Hurricane Maria is bearing down on the Caribbean and is set to pass over much the same area devastated by Hurricane Irma.
A massive magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Mexico City has killed more than 200 people as of Wednesday morning.
Volunteer rescue workers, along with officials and other ordinary citizens, dug through the debris of collapsed buildings, including a three-story primary and secondary school, where they found students dead after Tuesday’s quake.
“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help,” volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano told the Associated Press.
Tuesday’s earthquake is the deadliest in Mexico since the 1985 quake, which took place on the same date and left thousands dead.
It is also the second devastating earthquake to hit the region in less than two weeks.
A week and a half ago, a magnitude-8.1 quake killed about 90 people.
Here’s how to help Mexico and those affected by the earthquake:1. Donate clothes, water and food
If you’re nearby the tragedy, donate canned goods to relief or collection centers listed here at Elfinanciero.com.
A simple retweet could get the right person where they need to be or the right information where it needs to go.
While you’re on social media, consider retweeting aid accounts or locals to connect them to the appropriate resources.
For example, Topos Mexico has been sharing lists of areas where they need professional medical care.
Locals are also tweeting photos of areas where help is needed. Here, someone calls for help on Twitter for a collapsed building in Coquimbo, where many were trapped.
Some have even tweeted about open hospitals and where victims can receive free treatment, such as the emergency room at Hospital Ángeles Pedregal below.
There is also a Google spreadsheet of rescued individuals that’s being shared on social media.4. If you’re around, volunteer
Mexico City officials have put together a volunteer coordination site, asking those interested to head to the Emergency Rescue Squad (ERUM) building in Chimalpopoca.
But officials warn volunteers to stick to their nearest disaster zones and avoid entering other zones.
Update 1:30 p.m. Sept. 19: American Airlines and United Airlines announced that they are capping some of their fares as Hurricane Maria churns over the Caribbean.
American Airlines said it will cap until Sept. 24 one-way, nonstop fares from airports in Antigua, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos islands, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Kitts and Nevis. Fares for travel in the airline’s main cabin will be capped at $99, while premium cabin fares will be capped at $199.
United Airlines officials said the company is adding additional seats for its flights leaving Puerto Rico. The airline capped its nonstop flights in economy class at $384.
The announcements came in response to a letter sent to nearly a dozen airliners from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, requesting that the airlines cap fees for people fleeing from Maria.
“Individuals and families should not be forced to delay or cancel their evacuation efforts because of confusion over the cost of airfare,” Nelson said.
Original report: Delta Air Lines said it is capping main cabin one-way fares at $199 for flights out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago in the Dominican Republic as Hurricane Maria approaches.
Atlanta-based Delta is also adding two extra flights from San Juan to Atlanta for those who want to get out of the hurricane’s path.
Delta is waiving change fees for travelers with flights booked to, from or through San Juan, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo and Santiago from Sept. 19-26.
Southwest Airlines is canceling its flights scheduled to and from San Juan for Tuesday after 6 p.m. and Wednesday, and to and from Punta Cana on Wednesday.
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
In two since-deleted tweets, Hulk Hogan called Hurricane Irma survivors who are complaining about the loss of water and power “crybabies."
On Thursday, the professional wrestling star wrote: “No water, no power, crybabies, everyone’s complaining, these people have no clue how bad it could be. Praying for those that got hit hard, lost homes, lives, businesses, lost everything, thank you God for helping those with divine highly blessings, God speed only love.”
Hogan rode out the storm at his home in Clearwater, Florida — a city on the west coast of the state. His tweets sparked a firestorm on social media, with many criticizing Hogan. While still a larger-than-life celebrity in the professional wrestling circuit, the star returned to fame a few years ago when he effectively put gossip and news website Gawker out of business.
The tweets have been taken down but were captured by The Washington Post before they were deleted. Hogan has not returned requests for comment on the statements.
Hogan also noted on Twitter that he spent Friday with linemen restoring power to Orlando, which was ravaged by Irma.
A 3-year-old Florida girl nearly had her birthday celebration ruined.
She was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 8, just two days before her birthday — and the day Hurricane Irma was poised to strike her home.
Willow Stine, who lives in Wesley Chapel, rode out the storm with her mother at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, but because of Irma it meant no birthday celebration for Willow — or so her mother thought, according to CNN.
“I was like, I don't know how much more I can take,” Willow's mother, Jennifer Stine, told CNN. “My baby's turning 3 and has cancer and on top of that, my 4-year-old daughter and husband are an hour and a half away in a hurricane. I'm just trying to process all this.”
“The nurses were amazing. They're so wonderful,” Stine told CNN. “[Willow] got to be a toddler again.”
Read more at CNN.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that several Central Florida counties have been declared a federal disaster area following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
That means residents can now register for disaster assistance from FEMA.Brevard County
Homeowners, renters and business owners can apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage.
Assistance for eligible survivors can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs.
Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also may be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
Survivors should contact their insurance company to file their insurance claim. FEMA is unable to duplicate insurance payments. However, those without insurance or those who may be underinsured may still receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.Flagler County
People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Lake County
FEMA expanded the list of counties late Wednesday to include Lake County. People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Marion County
People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Orange County
Orange County has been approved for individual assistance. People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Osceola County
Osceola County has been approved for individual assistance. People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Polk County
People will need to provide their Social Security number, daytime phone number, current mailing address, zip code of the damaged property and insurance information.
Once all that information is given, people will be able to look up their claim on FEMA’s website.
Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida Sunday night into Monday morning and brought downed trees, power lines, power outages, flooding and other damage.Seminole County
Seminole County has been approved for individual assistance. People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Sumter County
FEMA expanded the list of counties late Wednesday. People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.Volusia County
People can enter their address into FEMA's website to see if they qualify. Individuals can register online here, through the FEMA app here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) while those who use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585.
When Mark Sandy saw a Facebook post on Wednesday about a Lake Worth, Florida, nursing home that was without power, he went to check on a family friend who was living there. “When we showed up, the fire department was there with trucks waiting to take people away,” he said.
He walked inside and saw employees at Signature HealthCare putting cold compresses on the foreheads of elderly patients, wheelchairs lined up down the hall and a man lying on a mattress on the floor.
“It was extremely hot and humid. It was rough to see elderly people in those conditions,” Sandy said. “The staff was working their butts off to make them comfortable. They deserve credit. The problem is they didn’t have sufficient equipment.”
The evacuation started, Sandy said, only after a paramedic had arrived on a medical call. “When he saw the deplorable conditions, he called for backup.”
Earlier in the day, eight people died at a Broward County nursing home in Hollywood. “I realize now after seeing what I saw (in Lake Worth) how that could happen,” Sandy said.
It wasn’t the only nursing home in Palm Beach County where residents sweltered in heat because of power outages caused by Hurricane Irma, which made landfall Sunday.
Jennifer Greco did a welfare check Wednesday on a friend’s grandmother and said she was horrified to see elderly residents sweltering in the lobby of a Jupiter nursing home that had been without electricity since Saturday.
“Nobody looked like they were suffering, nobody called out to me. They were just sitting there with the look in their eyes like, ‘I’m just miserable,’’’ Greco said after visiting Courtyards Garden nursing home on Indian Creek Parkway.
So Greco posted on Facebook an “urgent need” for battery-operated fans at the facility. She even went to CVS and bought the last fan in the store.
“You can’t cool 25 people in a room with a tower fan, especially if they’re in a wheelchair or on the other side of the room,’’ she said. “I’m just trying to find people, if they have fans they’re not using, to bring it there.’’
A Courtyards Garden employee who wouldn’t give her name told a reporter that the 120-bed facility has one air-conditioned room powered by a generator that residents can use. The employee said none of the residents is in peril.
“We are well-equipped with food, water and everything in between. The only thing we need is air,’’ she said, adding that some family members have picked up loved ones since the storm passed.
Of the more than 300 nursing homes in the county, seven have reported problems due to a lack of power, including generators that malfunctioned, said Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.
While that may sound like a small percentage, it’s still unacceptable when considering the frailty of the residents, O’Connor said. But he said the seven facilities lacking electricity have either gotten generators or transferred patients to other facilities.
O’Connor said the county Wednesday was prepared to dispatch ambulances to pick up clients from nursing homes and take them to the county-run special-needs shelter at the South Florida Fairgrounds, but no request was made.
“We don’t anticipate the kind of situation that unfolded in Hollywood, but you can never say never,’’ he said.
Janice Dougherty, 84, of the Christian Manor senior living apartments in West Palm Beach, said the community on Executive Center Drive was still without power Wednesday night and the property’s management didn’t use generators on the site.
“It’s about 95 degrees in here,’’ said Dougherty, who said she has ovarian cancer.
On The Palm Beach Post’s Hurricane Irma Facebook page, Cindy R. Morrone-DiVincent, who said she runs a nursing home in Stuart, claimed that a West Palm Beach facility had no air conditioning and temperatures over 90 degrees. A call to the facility was not immediately returned.
There were other issues with nursing homes not related to a lack of electricity.
As Hurricane Irma roared through South Florida, a frantic woman from California who was trying to check on her elderly mother called Palm Beach County’s Emergency Operations Center because no one was answering the phone at her mother’s nursing home in Lantana.
Turned out her mother was safe at a shelter at Park Vista High School. She’d been dropped off there with 27 other elderly residents, many of them in wheelchairs and walkers, by The Carlisle Palm Beach.
But no staff from the Carlisle stayed with their clients at the shelter, leaving many retirees, some in their 90s and 100s, at the mercy of county and School District employees who for the first time were in charge of supervising hurricane shelters, a job previously done by the American Red Cross.
When The Post contacted The Carlisle seeking comment about the concerns, a person at the switchboard passed the call to a man who hung up after saying: “We have no one at the shelters right now. Everyone’s been taken care of. Thank you.’’
At MorseLife Health System’s facility in West Palm Beach, Chief Executive Officer Keith Myers said all nursing homes are supposed to do monthly checks on equipment, including generators, to make sure they’re working properly.
“They should’ve tested them and had a plan. It was their responsibility,’’ he said.
Myers said Morselife, on Haverhill Road just south of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, would’ve taken in residents from other nursing homes.
“We plan and we take it very seriously,’’ he said. “When you have even one life in your hands, you need to make sure you have all your systems in place.’’
– Palm Beach Post staff writer Julius Whigham II contributed to this story.
The powerful storm surge that roared over the Middle Keys left the main highway covered in seaweed, tiny crabs, shrimp and fish, now decomposing in plowed mounds by the side of U.S. 1.
A roadblock at Florida City is preventing anyone but residents from traveling down the single road in and out of the string of tiny islands. But even residents can only go as far as Islamorada until the road is cleared and the Lower Keys bridges are inspected.
Thirty percent of the Upper Keys lacks power, emergency management authorities said after a meeting Tuesday night.
In the Lower Keys, there is no power at all.
In Key Largo, a few businesses have re-opened. A Winn Dixie. A liquor store. Here and there, a restaurant.
Further down in Islamorada, the damage is more apparent.
Broken power poles dangle from power lines. By the sides of the road, gumbo limbo trees, denuded of leaves, lie broken and tangled with shredded aluminum, the bimini tops of boats and crab pots meant to catch the upcoming season’s stone crabs.
In spots where U.S. 1 runs close to the ocean, storm surge covered the road with sand, now scraped intro roadside drifts, like the aftermath of a snow storm.
In Lower Matecumbe Key, the ocean stormed over the road to Sandy Cove on the Gulf side, smashing the foundation of a three-story apartment building, which then pancaked down on itself, ending up a single story of cracked concrete with the sea still lapping at its destruction. Under it all, the wheels of a car can be seen in what had been the building’s garage.
At Seabreeze Mobile Home Park on Islamorada’s Atlantic side, Billy Quinn stopped his bike on the blue concrete pad where his trailer had stood before Irma rearranged the park’s geography.
“That’s it over there,” said Quinn, a carpenter, who said his family had owned the trailer for 56 years. “The wind and water moved it about 15 feet away.”
He pointed to a rubber hose buried in coral rock pebbles. “That’s my pressure cleaner,” he said, “and my refrigerator is over there and one of my boat’s engines is half in the water.”
Quinn wants FEMA to help clean up the park quickly, so he and the other residents can start cleaning up the Keys.
The park, once a retiree paradise, was one of only a few places low-income workers could afford in the Keys’ pricey rental market.
“This is low income, workforce housing,” Quinn said. “We’re waitresses, cooks, construction workers. We’re the ones that do the work for the tourists.”
On the other side of the park, Sharon Noeller, a waitress at the Lorelei restaurant, a Keys landmark, started to cry, thinking of the three bins of her daughter’s photos still inside her wrecked trailer.
“This was our little oasis,” she said as her boyfriend, Kevin Collina, salvaged an unbroken glass table top from a pile of storm-tossed belongings. Their master bedroom was down what had been their road.
“We had a little pool and an outdoor shower right on the ocean,” she said.
“Now there’s no place left to go. No place we can afford, anyway.”
Wi-Fi and cellphone coverage remain spotty throughout South Florida and other locations along Hurricane Irma's path. There’s a simple reason: Like everyone else, the companies that provide it don’t have power, thanks to the storm.
Cell towers across Florida have been cut off from the power grid and are relying on generators to keep going, spokespeople for two of the four major wireless carriers said.
“The faster the power comes back on, the faster all telecommunication services can get back on,” a T-Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. “The power outages are just everywhere. It’s definitely causing a lot of effect across the board.”
For Comcast, the main provider of Wi-Fi in Palm Beach County, it’s a similar story.
“Many of our facilities in Palm Beach County, and virtually all of them in Broward County and further south in Miami-Dade, are functioning on generators due to the complete loss of commercial power,” Comcast spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said.
Physical damage to cell towers doesn’t appear to be an issue. Towers are meant to withstand high winds.
“It’s really rare to see a tower topple over,” said Roni Singleton, a Sprint spokeswoman for Florida.
But because of the power outages, the lack of coverage right now is worse in South Florida, and — bizarrely — much worse than Houston recently experienced despite that city’s massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
“There was really very little loss of mobile service in Houston, across all carriers,” the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. “Houston was able to maintain power the entire time.”
Cell towers are required to have batteries that provide eight to 12 hours of power for first responders, the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. After that, they rely on generators for power. But fallen trees and debris have made it difficult to refuel some of the generators, she said.
Verizon said close to 90 percent of its facilities were working, with many running on backup generators.
“Massive refueling operations are underway to ensure those sites without commercial power continue in service for our customers and first responders,” the company said in a statement.
Sprint and Comcast said they’re sending satellite trucks and mobile platforms to South Florida to provide temporary coverage until power returns. AT&T said it was sending portable cell sites to the Keys, Miami and Tallahassee.
None of the companies would give a time frame for when full coverage would return, but T-Mobile and Sprint said coverage was getting better by the hour.
“I think by [Wednesday], we’ll see a huge improvement in the number of sites that are back up,” Singleton said.
Volusia County, Florida, residents on Monday morning awoke to toppled trees, downed power lines, flooded streets and damaged property.
Hurricane Irma brought howling winds and pounding rains to the county.
Officials urged residents to ascend to the highest floor of their homes. But for some, the rising water became too dangerous.
The Daytona Beach Fire Department said it had to evacuate people from flooded apartments along Beach Street.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office said deputies rescued 14 people from the floodwaters.
The residents were taken to the city's Midtown Cultural and Education Center. No injuries were reported.
Elsewhere in the city, iconic attractions weren't spared from Irma's wrath.
A large water slide at Daytona Lagoon, a popular water and amusement park, blew into an adjacent street.
Storm surge washed away beaches and left a Ponce Inlet boardwalk in ruins.
The Daytona Beach Police Department said officers arrested a trio of burglars who were raiding a store.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said that he has no tolerance for looting. He said that the county would be under curfew from 10 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Daytona Beach firefighters housed at Station 1 said the kitchen ceiling caved in. They said the bays harboring the fire trucks were so heavily flooded that the vehicles had to be moved to prevent damage.
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