President Donald Trump warned Hurricane Florence will be “tremendously big and tremendously wet,” and urged residents under evacuation orders to get out. Still, he says the federal government is as ready “as anyone has ever been” to respond. (Sept. 11) AP
A monster. A beast. Catastrophic. Vicious.
Hurricane Florence is all of the above – and more, according to meteorologists, who predict the powerful slow-moving Category 4 whirlwind that’s set to crash into the Carolinas by week’s end could go down as “the storm of a lifetime” for this part of the East Coast.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump promised the federal government’s support, saying that the U.S. was “as ready as anybody’s ever been,” but urged people in mandatory evacuations areas to get out now – even if they’ve successfully weathered past hurricanes.
How serious is the storm surge? The National Hurricane Center lists any storm surge over 12 feet as “life-threatening,” the center’s director, Ken Graham, told CNN.
“Large, battering waves will ride atop this surge,” The Weather Channel reported Tuesday night.
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday predicted storm-surge inundations up to 13 feet in some areas of Florence’s path.
With maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, as of 11 p.m. EST Tuesday, Florence will undoubtedly pack a punch, delivering the power to structurally damage buildings, knock down power lines and topple trees.
The extreme winds can also transform furniture, decorations and other debris into flying projectiles, the division chief for Durham Emergency Management, Leslie O’Connor told CBS 17 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Anything that gets picked up by wind becomes a projectile, and it could also become a life-safety hazard,” O’Connor said.
The rainfall predictions are staggering, potentially up to 35 inches in some isolated areas, the Weather Channel reported, and the dangers will intensify if the storm – as projected – stalls over North Carolina and Virginia.
“All indications are that the storm will slow down and just crawl or meander over the inland sections and the coastal Piedmont,” Weather Channel hurricane expert Bryan Norcross said. “We don’t know exactly where the center will go, but it’s not really relevant. It’s more like a (Hurricane) Harvey situation, where it’ll just slowly wind down.”
After Harvey made landfall near last year near Corpus Christi, the storm stalled over Houston, drenching the metro area with as much as 5 feet of rain.
“It will be worse than a Harvey in the sense that the terrain is not like Houston, which is flat. If you put 2, 3, 4 feet of rain over flat ground, you have a certain kind of problem,” Norcross said. “But if you put a foot or 2 – or maybe in some isolated places more – of rain over hills and mountains, you have a very different kind of problem, which is really more dangerous than the flat situation, as bad as that was.”
Peter Pyros has survived cancer, a stroke and nine surgeries. Yet his most challenging and terrifying ordeal, he said, occurred in his own car parked inside his Cleveland garage late last month.
“I actually scribbled a letter to my nephew, I wrote, ‘This is a terrible death, but I love you.’ I didn’t want anyone to think I committed suicide,” Pyros told the Free Press.
Pyros, 75, was trapped inside his 2006 Cadillac XLR roadster when the car failed to start, shutting down its electrical system and locking him inside. Over the next 14 hours, Pyros said he passed out twice and experienced despair and heat exhaustion before he was finally rescued from his car.
Here’s what happened:
On the morning of Friday, Aug. 31, Pyros decided to give his beloved burgundy 2006 convertible Cadillac XLR a spin before the weather turns too inclement to enjoy having the top down.
“I had started the car a couple weeks earlier and backed it out, then I put it back in the garage,” said Pyros. “I was going to do the same thing, but then go for a little ride.”
Pyros got in, shut the door and hit the push-start button. Silence. He tried putting the key fob into a slot to start it, but still nothing. He had two new key-fob batteries in the center console, so he replaced the battery with each. Still, the engine was silent.
The car, which has only about 12,000 miles on it, has buttons instead of door handles, so with the engine dead and the electrical system not working, the doors and windows did not budge. Even the horn did not work, he said. Electricity is required to take the hard-top convertible cover down.
“It was getting really hot and it was difficult to breathe — this was all within a half hour,” said Pyros. “I was trying to find something to get me out of the car. Nothing worked. I started to scream as loud as I could.”
Pyros lives alone. At 10 a.m. that day, his neighbors were at work. He tried punching and kicking out the window, but he couldn’t break it.
“I tried pounding on the window thinking someone would hear me,” said Pyros. “That didn’t work either.”
Critics say that what happened to Pyros can occur too easily in late-model cars.
“Too many of the automakers shortchange the technology in the vehicle in that there should be fail-safe electrical backup just as there is for the air bag system,” said Byron Bloch, a court-qualified auto safety expert based in Potomac, Maryland.
Bloch has consulted on and testified in hundreds of auto safety cases over a 40-year career, including on a similar case in 2015 when a Texas man became entrapped in his Corvette and died. It’s a risk most people don’t consider when they get in their car.
“You should be worried because unless you can check in your owner’s manual to determine if you have an energy reserve power system. You could not only be entrapped, but if it’s a hot summer day and you have a child in there with you, you’d be powerless to save your child when the car reaches 120 or 130 degrees,” Bloch said.
Pyros’ Cadillac has a manual door release on the floor, but he didn’t know that and his owner’s manual was in the house.
‘I will die’
According to AccuWeather, the outside temperature that day in Cleveland hit a high of 77 degrees. Inside the cramped car in his muggy garage, Pyros said it was well over 100 degrees.
He sweated so much that the car interior is stained with what resembles road salt from his dried sweat, he said.
“I came to the conclusion that I was going to die,” said Pyros. “I was at peace with it. I asked God to help me twice, then I said, ‘OK, God if this is the way I’m supposed to die, I will die.’ “
When darkness came, Pyros said he tried one more time, pressing his face to the window, screaming his neighbor’s name and “help.”
Around 11:20 p.m., he looked up and saw his neighbor entering the garage. Earlier, that neighbor had noticed Pyros’ garage door open and called Pyros to tell him. Pyros had left his cell phone in the house. When Pyros did not return the neighbor’s call, the neighbor went over to tell Pyros. That’s when the neighbor heard muffled pounding and his name, Pyros said.
“Something told him, I think it was God, not to go to bed that night,” said Pyros. “And around 11 or 11:30, he came over and he saved my life.”
Pyros’ all-electric car could not be opened using the fire department’s usual crowbars, so a fireman instructed Pyros to pop the hood, he said. Then, rescuers jumped-started the engine, opened the doors and freed Pyros. He spent the night in the hospital recovering.
Days later, he found in the owner’s manual the directions to a mechanical door release handle on the floor next to each seat.
That brief instruction in the vast owner’s manual is unacceptable to Pyros’ lawyers who are investigating the case and, “Looking at all avenues of litigation. We are in touch with other attorneys who have pursued similar actions against General Motors,” said John Meros, partner at Schulman, Schulman and Meros in Cleveland. Meros said his firm is working with another Cleveland law firm, Friedman, Domiano, and Smith on the incident.
“Automakers must have recognized that with all-electric features and the power failing, you’re locked inside your car,” said Meros. “Why not put a warning sticker on the visor or dashboard that says if the power fails and in the event of entrapment, there is an escape lever on the floor?”
A GM spokesman said any vehicles could lose electrical power and that risk can increase as a vehicle ages. He said GM provides ways to manually unlock doors in that event.
“Because this varies by make and model, drivers should review the door lock section of their owner’s manual, and follow up with their dealer or customer assistance center if they have any questions,” GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson wrote in an email to the Free Press.
Wilkinson said on most vehicles, the driver can simply pull the inside door handle, adding, “Some like the Corvette continue to have a clearly marked door release handle.”
Not the first time
This is not the first incident of vehicle entrapment.
In 2015, a 72-year-old man and his dog died of heat exhaustion after they were unable to get out of his locked Corvette in a Waffle House parking lot in Port Arthur, Texas. Police believe that when James Rogers got into the vehicle, a cable became loose and cut off the power to operate the horn and locks. Rogers did not know how to manually unlock the vehicle and became trapped inside.
Meros and Bloch said General Motors reached a confidential settlement in that case last year.
In 2014, a New Zealand couple in their 60s spent 13 hours trapped in their keyless Mazda 3 hatchback when they forgot to bring the electric key opener with them and the doors automatically locked. The owner’s manual was in the house so they couldn’t find a manual override and became convinced they were trapped. The couple was rescued.
Most people are not studying or reading these owner’s manuals and, “If there is an escape latch they are not displayed prominently in the manual,” said Meros. “There is no warning sticker in the vehicle either.”
Safety expert Bloch recommends all automakers install a “fail-safe electrical backup” system for the electrical system similar to what they have for air bags. In the current case, if the engine loses power, the air bag still has reserve energy to ensure it will inflate.
Yet, said Bloch, GM and some others automakers do not have a backup power reserve for the doors and windows.
GM’s Wilkinson said only, “GM’s mechanical door releases provide a reliable backup in the event of a power failure.”
As to which specific automakers offer a power backup, Bloch did not have a full list. In most cases, a car’s handles should override a failure of the electronic system to let the occupant out.
Still, he said, “All vehicles with the electronic doors need to have the electric reserve system.”
Bloch said car owners can ensure their safety by making sure they and family members who use the car know where the emergency manual door release handles are located. Next, he said, go through the owner manual and find out whether there’s a reserve system for the electrical system. If not, your vehicle is “less safe than those” that have one, he said. Finally, check the key fob battery every two to three years.
“Car companies like to say, ‘We put it in the owner’s manual and if you were stupid enough to not read it, it’s your fault,’ ” Bloch said.
But he said even dealership sales’ staff can’t recite the vast information contained in an owner’s manual.
“Just putting a line in the owners manual, that’s not fair to the purchaser of the vehicle,” Bloch said. “It’s truly life and death.”
Indeed, Pyros’ life has permanently changed since his ordeal, he said.
“I’m having a hard time. I wake up and think I’m in the car. I cry now when I say my prayers because I don’t know why I was so lucky to live,” Pyros said. “I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through one thousandth of what I went through. You can’t describe it … you’re dying, you’re dying.”
Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the two men accused by the United Kingdom of attempting to murder a former Russian double agent and his daughter are not criminals and have been identified as civilians.
British prosecutors charged two Russian nationals, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, last week for allegedly poisoning former spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a military-grade nerve agent in the city of Salisbury in March.
Putin, speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian port city of Valdivostok, said that Russia had found the two men, there was nothing criminal about them and that he hoped they would come forward and tell the world their own story.
“We, of course, checked who these people are. We know who they are, we found them… I hope they will come out themselves and speak about themselves. It will be better for everyone,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the economic summit.
“There is nothing special there, nothing criminal, I assure you. We’ll see in the near future,” he added.
Putin urged the two men to speak to the journalists.
“I would like to appeal to them so that they hear us today.”
On March 4, Skripal and his daughter were found slumped unconscious on a bench in Salisbury after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. They spent weeks in hospital before being discharged.
The failed attack triggered a major diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia, with the British government alleging Moscow was responsible for their attempted murder. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement.
British prosecutors issued European arrest warrants last week for Petrov and Boshirov, charging them with conspiracy to murder.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the two suspects were Russian military intelligence officers almost certainly acting on orders from high up in the Russian state.
In response to the charges last week, the Russian foreign ministry said that the names and the photographs of the accused “mean nothing to us”.
Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Vladivostok, said Putin’s remarks contradict the earlier claims made by the Russian foreign ministry.
“That’s a change in the script there,” he said.
British police said the suspects, both about 40-years old, flew from Moscow to London on Russian passports two days before the Skripals were poisoned.
UK prosecutors said they had “sufficient evidence” to charge the pair, but did not formally demand their extradition, as Russia does not extradite its citizens.
“If we do actually see these two men in front of TV cameras or sitting down with journalists, being quizzed on what this was all about, it would be interesting to see what their explanation is.”
While any gamer would like to have a $300 gaming headset, it isn’t always practical or affordable. Typically, it’s the latter that is the issue, since most premium headsets cost almost as much as a new console. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent pair of headphones on a budget, though it might make finding some just a little harder. Thankfully, HyperX is here with a headset perfect for the conscious gamers out there.
The HyperX has a history of delivering reliable gaming headsets across the board, and the Cloud Stinger is no different. Admittedly, the build quality of the headset isn’t going to be anything special. It’s an unassuming headset that, while all-plastic, doesn’t feel cheaply made. The Stinger is also fairly comfortable for the price, though the ear pads could be a bit thicker.
The Cloud Stinger will also deliver reliable audio across the board, with most sound effects coming through clearly enough. In fairness, it won’t be booming into the ear the way more expensive headsets do, though that’s to be expected from a $50 headset. One major advantage it does have though is cross-platform compatibility.
More expensive headsets tend to be locked to one or two platforms, so you have to be careful with which headset you purchase. If you were to get the Cloud Stinger, that’s one concern that can be crossed off the list.
Jeremy P. Snow expressed his happiness with the Cloud Stinger, saying:
“Fantastic headset for the price! The earpieces are very comfortable and can definitely drown out the surrounding noise when you’ve got them cranked at full volume. The intuitive microphone design is great too. Before this I had the PS4 wireless headset and sometimes my wife would come in and not know whether I was in a chat or just listening to my game, and now she knows if the mic is up, I’m good to talk, and if it’s down…it’s game time!”
Humane Society Southern Regional Director Laura Bevan gives pet owners advice on how to keep pets safe during a natural disaster. Animalkind
Dr. Robin Ganzert’s home, located in the barrier islands of South Carolina, was put under mandatory evacuation on Monday.
The owner of an 8-year-old Morkie (Maltese and Yorkie mix) named Daisy, Ganzert snapped photos of her pet, got her disaster prep kit ready — including a few toys for Daisy — and planned to head inland, away from the impact zone.
She is just one of the many pet owners whose homes are in the path of Hurricane Florence, however, she did something that experts advise every pet parent to do if they can: Get out early.
The dangerous storm is forecast to bring high winds, heavy rains and potential flooding to the coastal areas of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia over the coming days. Though it’s a high-stress time for those living in the region, pet owners are encouraged to use this time to plan, prepare and stay informed.
“We recommend that all pet parents have a disaster kit on-hand at all times,” said Ganzert, CEO of American Humane, which has provided animal safety services for over 100 years.
Ganzert said pet owners should equip the kit for almost every situation by including items like a pet carrying case, food bowls, sanitation materials, chew toys, medication and veterinarian’s contact information.
Packing up-to-date photos of you and your pet can help provide additional proof of ownership or identification if you and your animal are separated.
“Last night I took some pix of Daisy, with her cute little summer haircut, so she’s easily recognizable,” Ganzert said.
Disaster kits don’t have to be large, bulky plastic bins that may be difficult to travel with, experts say.
“You can even use a large ziplock bag to pack everything, ” said Joe Elmore, CEO of Charleston Animal Society, a shelter within the evacuation zone. “Don’t make it complicated. Stop by a local drug store. Get a human first-aid kit. Almost everything can be used if you or your pet has an emergency.”
While packing food and water for both you and your pet may be one of the first things that comes to mind, it’s easy to forget vaccination records or other relevant documents that could come in handy during an evacuation.
Without them, your pet may be put in quarantine at animal shelters or turned away altogether, Elmore said.
Most importantly of all, experts say, don’t leave your pets home alone.
“Take your pets with you,” said Elmore. “Don’t just dump them at a shelter. Animal shelters are overwhelmed already. We’re all overcrowded.”
Ganzert said American Humane has relocated animals in the wake of Hurricane Florence. “During the middle of all of this, we were rescuing over 76 cats from an area that was going to flood in South Carolina — an area very prone to storm surges. These cats are now safely on the road, out of harm’s way.”
The felines are being relocated to Connecticut and New York until the storm passes.
“We are working with shelters that are in the path of the hurricane to clear as many animals as we can so we can make room for pets that get displaced during the hurricane,” said Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society of the US.
Block, whose organization also assisted relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina, said thousands of people often choose not to evacuate because they fear leaving their pets behind. She said that the answer isn’t showing up unannounced at an animal shelter, but to instead call ahead.
For those who can not evacuate, experts say choose a safe room in your home without windows to ride out the storm with your family and pets.
“They depend on you for food and water. Don’t leave pets in vehicles,” Ganzert said. She said to secure all exits in your home so your pets can’t escape into the storm and to know your pet’s hiding places because that’s where they are likely to run.
The evacuation expert also warned against using tranquilizers during hazardous storms. “They’ll need their survival instincts should the storm require that. They need to have all their wits about them,” Ganzert said.
After the storm has passed, Ganzert said it’s important to assess any damage before allowing pets to return home.
“Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier …,” Ganzer said. “Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.”
Though there are precautions you can take, the best thing to do is get out of harm’s way.
“People don’t leave soon enough. People don’t evacuate soon enough. It’s better to be safe. People wait too long and then it’s too late,” said Ganzert. “When your governor or your mayor says evacuate, please do like Daisy and I did.”