Raging wildfires continue to burn in Northern Canada


Important Takeaways:

  • The indiscriminate devastation of Canada’s raging wildfires
  • There have been more than 1,000 wildfires across Canada in the last week – a record number.
  • The biggest fires may have been tamed, but there is still a significant threat as new seats of fire start up at various places in the tinder-dry forest.
  • The helicopters flew and dropped water virtually from dawn till dusk and were back again the next day.
  • This crisis has undoubtedly strengthened the bond between the fire crews and a grateful public, who gather at fire houses in Kelowna to cheer home the firemen and firewomen after another exhausting day in the forest.
  • “There were times when our staff were surrounded on all sides by fire,” says the chief. “They would not say they were ‘trapped’ but there’s no question it’s been dangerous. We saw dramatic fire behavior, with winds ripping up trees by their roots and laying them down like toothpicks.”
  • Most alarmingly, Chief Brolund wonders about how his relatively small department can cope with an ever-expanding fire season. Normally the team would be dealing with a relatively small number of blazes in July and August. Now, he says, they can be fighting wildfires from March to November.

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Death toll from powerful typhoon in Philippines climbs to 12

By Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz

MANILA (Reuters) – The death toll from a typhoon that slammed into the Philippines rose to 12 on Friday, and its president feared it could climb further as authorities assess the devastation caused by one of the strongest tropical storms to hit the country this year.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would visit battered central and southern areas on Saturday to see the extent of damage, as the government tried to figure out how much it could raise for the disaster response.

Duterte said COVID-19 spending had already depleted this year’s budget.

“I’m not so much worried about damage to structures,” Duterte said in a televised briefing with disaster officials.

“My fear is if many people died. I am as eager as you to go there to see for myself,” he told Ricardo Jalad, undersecretary at the disaster agency.

Jalad said the death toll was preliminary and he was awaiting information from provincial units before a complete damage assessment could be made.

Most of the reported deaths were due to fallen trees and drowning.

Typhoon Rai, which saw winds of up to 195 km (121 miles) per hour before making landfall on Thursday, displaced more than 300,000 people, damaged homes and toppled power and communication lines, complicating the disaster response.

Rai at one point intensified into a category 5 storm, the highest classification, but later weakened and was due to exit the Philippines by Saturday. The country sees on average 20 typhoons a year.

“It is not expected to cause massive damage compared to typhoons of the same strength previously,” said Casiano Monilla, assistant secretary at the Office of the Civil Defense.

However, Bohol provincial governor Arthur Yap appealed for help as flooding hampered rescue efforts.

“Families are trapped on rooftops now,” he told DZBB radio.

The typhoon, the 15th to strike the archipelago this year, saw dozens of flights cancelled and paralyzed operations at several ports, leaving about 4,000 people stranded.

Authorities also postponed a mass vaccination drive in most regions.

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty and Michael Perry)

Floodwaters still rising in western Europe with death toll over 120

By Martin Schlicht and David Sahl

SCHULD/ERFTSTADT, Germany (Reuters) – German officials feared more deaths on Friday after “catastrophic” floods swept through western regions, demolishing streets and houses, killing more than 100 people and leaving hundreds more missing and homeless.

Communications were cut in many areas and entire communities lay in ruins after swollen rivers tore through towns and villages in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate as well as parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.

After days of heavy rain, 103 people have died in Germany alone, the largest number killed in a natural disaster in the country in almost 60 years. They included 12 residents of a home for disabled people surprised by the floods during the night.

In Belgium, which has declared a day of mourning on Tuesday, officials said there were at least 20 dead and another 20 missing.

The flooding was a “catastrophe of historic dimensions,” said Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and the ruling CDU party’s candidate to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel when she steps down after an election in September.

The devastation of the floods, attributed by meteorologists to a climate-change driven shift in the jet stream that has brought inland water that once stayed at sea, could shake up an election that has until now seen little discussion of climate.

“It is a sad certainty that such extreme events will determine our day-to-day life more and more frequently in the future,” Laschet said, adding that more measures were needed to fight global warming.

Proposals by the Greens, running a distant second in polls to Merkel’s conservatives, to introduce motorway speed limits to cut carbon emissions had previously drawn outrage.

Days after the European Commission unveiled plans to make Europe the “first climate-neutral continent, Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the scale and intensity of the flooding was a clear indication of climate change and demonstrated the urgent need to act.


Achim Hueck, a fish farmer in the town of Schuld, said he had only just managed to escape. “It was rising really fast, it started from the path back here,” he said, pointing to the wreckage of his business.

“There was a path, there were ponds, lots of them up there. Fishing hut, toilet facilities, everything is gone,” he said.

As officials assessed the damage, the devastation appeared to have exceeded that caused by disastrous flooding in eastern Germany almost 20 years ago.

Some 114,000 households in Germany were without power on Friday and mobile phone networks had collapsed in some flooded regions, making it hard for authorities to keep track of the number of missing.

Roads in many affected areas were impassable after being washed away by the floods. Rescue crews tried to reach residents by boat or helicopter and had to communicate via walkie-talkie.

“The network has completely collapsed. The infrastructure has collapsed. Hospitals can’t take anyone in. Nursing homes had to be evacuated,” a spokeswoman for the regional government of Cologne said.

Authorities worried that further dams could overflow, spilling uncontrolled floods into communities below, and were trying to ease pressure by releasing more water.

Some 4,500 people were evacuated downstream from the Steinbachtal dam in western Germany, which had been at risk of a breach overnight, and a stretch of motorway was closed.


Thousands of residents in the north of Limburg province in neighboring Netherlands were ordered to leave their homes early Friday as floodwaters peaked.

Emergency services were on high alert, and authorities were also reinforcing dikes along vulnerable stretches where floodwaters continue to rise.

Waters were receding in the southern city of Maastricht, where there was no flooding and in the town of Valkenburg, where damage was widespread, but no one was hurt.

France sent 40 military personnel and a helicopter to Liege in Belgium to help with the flood situation, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Twitter.

“The waters are rising more and more. It’s scary,” Thierry Bourgeois, 52, said in the Belgian town of Liege. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In the town of Maaseik, on the Dutch border, the Meuse had risen beyond a retaining wall and was spilling past sandbags placed on top.

Several towns and villages were already submerged, including Pepinster near Liege, where around 10 houses partially or fully collapsed.

The death toll in Germany is the highest of any natural catastrophe since a deadly North Sea flood in 1962 that killed around 340 people.

Floods at the Elbe river in 2002, which at the time were billed by media “once-in-a-century floods”, killed 21 people in eastern Germany and more than 100 across the wider central European region.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told magazine Spiegel the federal government aimed to provide financial support for the affected regions as quickly as possible, adding a package of measures should go to the cabinet for approval on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Kirsti Knolle, Douglas Busvine, Anneli Palmen, Matthias Inverardi, Tom Sims, Thomas Escritt, Anthony Deutsch, Phil Blenkinsop; Writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Alex Richardson)

Trump sees Michael’s wrath, rescuers search for bodies

U.S. President Donald Trump visits a street in the the town of Lynn Haven, Florida, as he tours areas ravaged by Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia, U.S., October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Steve Holland

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump got a first-hand look on Monday at the “total devastation” that Hurricane Michael brought to Florida, as rescuers searched for scores of missing and hundreds of thousands of residents remained without electricity.

U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) help distribute water in the town of Lynn Haven, Florida, during a tour of areas ravaged by Hurricane Michael in Florida U.S., October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) help distribute water in the town of Lynn Haven, Florida, during a tour of areas ravaged by Hurricane Michael in Florida U.S., October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump and first lady Melania Trump passed out bottles of water at an aid center in Lynn Haven, a city of about 18,500 people near Panama City in northwestern Florida, after taking a helicopter flight from Eglin Air Force Base about 100 miles (160 km) to the west.

“To see this personally is very tough – total devastation,” said Trump, who later traveled to neighboring Georgia to see storm damage there.

At least 18 deaths in four states have been blamed on Michael, which crashed into the Panhandle last Wednesday as one of the most powerful storms on record to hit the continental United States.

Thousands of rescuers, including volunteers, are still combing remote areas of the Florida Panhandle for those reported missing. They include 46 in Mexico Beach, according to ABC News. The town took a direct hit from the hurricane, and at least one person died there.

With most Mexico Beach homes already searched for survivors, rescue workers began using cadaver dogs to try to recover any human remains that might be buried under debris.

“The next phase is recovery,” Ignatius Carroll, a Miami fire captain who leads a Federal Emergency Management Agency rescue team, said by phone as he combed through wreckage. “We start using the dogs for larger rubble piles that were created by the storm.”

Searchers went through debris by hand, rather than with machines, so as not to destroy any bodies, Mexico Beach Councillor Linda Albrecht said.

“We expect to find everybody, because that’s our mentality. We expect everything to work out, but who knows what’s down the road?” said Albrecht, who returned to her home on Sunday to find it destroyed.

About 200,000 people remained without power in the U.S. Southeast, with residents cooking with fires and barbecue grills during daylight in hard-hit coastal towns such as Port St. Joe, Florida.


Insured losses for wind and storm surge from Hurricane Michael will run between an estimated $6 billion and $10 billion, risk modeler AIR Worldwide said. Those figures do not include losses paid out by the National Flood Insurance Program or uninsured property, AIR Worldwide said.

With top sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph), Michael hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by roads choked with downed trees after coastal woodlands and forests were uprooted by the storm.

Water service was restored to some in Panama City on Monday but Bay County officials said it was not yet safe to drink. Homeowners were advised to keep toilet flushes to a minimum because the sewer system was operating only at half capacity.

U.S. President Donald Trump riding aboard Marine One tours storm damage from Hurricane Michael along the Gulf Coast of Florida, October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Donald Trump riding aboard Marine One tours storm damage from Hurricane Michael along the Gulf Coast of Florida, October 15, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said that while power was returning in most areas, at least 85 percent of customers in four mainly rural Panhandle counties were without electricity on Monday. Officials said it could be weeks before power returns to the most-damaged areas.

“We’re living in the daylight, and living in the dark once night gets here,” said Port St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson, whose town of 3,500 was without power.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Terray Sylvester, Bernie Woodall in Florida, Makini Brice and Roberta Rampton in Washington, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

Rescuers search for missing near Guatemala volcano as death toll climbs

Soldiers search for remains at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonzo

By Sofia Menchu

SAN MIGUEL LOS LOTES, Guatemala (Reuters) – Rescuers scoured a lava- and ash-ravaged landscape in Guatemala for a third straight day on Wednesday in search of survivors and victims of Fuego volcano’s calamitous eruption, which has killed at least 99 people.

Volcan de Fuego, which means “Volcano of Fire,” exploded on Sunday in its most devastating eruption in more than four decades, showering ash on a wide area and sending rapid pyroclastic flows through nearby towns.

Volcanic rocks are seen around houses after the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Volcanic rocks are seen around houses after the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The volcano shot thick plumes of ash miles (km) into the sky that rained down on nearby towns and a thick smoldering layer of ash and volcanic rock blanketed the tiny hamlet of San Miguel Los Lotes, with only the roofs of some homes sticking out.

The Central American country’s disaster and forensic agency Inacif on Wednesday afternoon raised the death toll to at least 99, up from 85.

Guatemala’s seismological, volcanic and meteorological institute Insivumeh heightened its warnings after the volcano erupted again on Tuesday, forcing evacuations and sending rescue workers scrambling for cover.

But by Wednesday morning, rescuer workers were back at work with pickaxes, metal rods and flashlights in hand, risking their own lives in search of victims or a miracle survivor. Bulldozers stood by to help.

“We can only work in places where we can stand on the roofs of houses … because the ash is very hot. There are places where you stick the pickaxe or rod in and we see a lot of smoke coming out and fire and it’s impossible to keep digging because we could die,” said 25-year-old rescuer Diego Lorenzana.

Rescue workers inspect a house at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Rescue workers inspect a house at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Elsewhere, rescuers plunged metal rods into the quickly hardening ash that sat atop what was previously a roadway in a desperate search for trapped vehicles, a video by local TV station Televisiete showed.

The extent of the devastation was widespread.

An elderly man, who was featured in a video shortly after the eruption that showed him in a state of shock, caked from head to toe in ash and mud, died from the severe burns he suffered.

Guatemala’s national disaster management agency, CONRED, said 1.7 million people have been affected by the volcanic eruption and over 12,000 have been evacuated.

Volunteers were also distributing humanitarian aid, including clean drinking water, to victims.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said they have released more than 250,000 Swiss francs ($253,446) from its global emergency fund to support frontline emergency efforts.

These funds will help “Guatemala Red Cross support 3,000 of the most vulnerable survivors for three months,” they added.

A child sits sleep in a provisional shelter after the eruption of the Fuego volcano has damaged her community in a local school in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

A child sits sleep in a provisional shelter after the eruption of the Fuego volcano has damaged her community in a local school in Escuintla, Guatemala June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

In addition, the Mexican government said on Wednesday evening that it would send a team of medical specialists and, if necessary, transfer victims to hospitals in Mexico.

The 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) Volcan de Fuego is one of several active volcanoes among 34 in the Central American country. It lies near the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site that has survived several major eruptions.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Anthony Esposito and Julia Love; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Sandra Maler)

Trump says he will work with Congress on more aid for Puerto Rico

Trump says he will work with Congress on more aid for Puerto Rico

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will work with the U.S. Congress to approve grants and loans to help rebuild Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria a month ago.

Already mired in debt after years of recession, the U.S. territory faces storm-related damages that some estimates have pegged as high as $95 billion, and has asked the federal government to make exceptions to rules that typically require states and local governments to shoulder part of the cost of recovery.

Trump did not give any specifics about how much money the government may give or loan to the cash-strapped territory, home to 3.4 million U.S. citizens.

“I have given my blessing to Congress, and Congress is working with you and your representatives on coming up with a plan and a payment plan and how it’s all going to be funded. Because you are talking about some substantial numbers,” Trump said to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello at the beginning of an Oval Office meeting.

Trump and some of his top aides suggested last week that there would be limits to how much help Puerto Rico could expect from Washington. But on Thursday, the president’s remarks were broadly supportive.

The hurricane laid waste to the island’s power grid, destroying homes, roads and other vital infrastructure. The bankrupt territory is still struggling to provide basic services like running water. An oversight board charged with resolving Puerto Rico’s debt crisis has said the island’s government would run out of money by the end of the month without help.

Trump emphasized that repayment of federal loans and other storm-related debt owed by Puerto Rico would come before repayment of the island’s existing $72 billion in debt.

“Any money that’s put in by people – whether it’s public or private – they’re going to want to come in first position,” Trump said.

“We’re going to coming before – far before – any existing debt that’s on the island,” he said.

Trump declined to opine on whether the process would be easier if Puerto Rico were a state rather than a territory – a hot-button political issue on the island.

“You’ll get me into trouble with that question,” he told a reporter.


While in Washington, Rossello also met with Senate leaders. The Senate is expected to vote in coming days on an aid package that includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been helping Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands recover from three massive hurricanes.

Some senators would like to see more funds added to that package, Senator John Thune, a member of the Republican leadership, told reporters.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who has been deeply involved in discussions over the aid, said earlier on Thursday that he wants to tweak the bill so the island could more quickly access funds.

Congress is expected to consider another aid package by the end of December, but that could be too late for the island, which currently has no tax revenue, Rubio said.

“I know from experience the further away we get from these hurricanes, the less of a sense of urgency there is,” Rubio said.

Rossello has asked the federal government for approval to use disaster aid to cover a broad range of costs. He has also asked the White House and Congress for at least $4.6 billion in block grants and other types of funding.

“The reality is that we still need to do a lot more for the people of Puerto Rico and that’s why we’re meeting,” Rossello said.

“This is not over, not over by a long shot.”

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Additional reporting by Richard Cowan, Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Dan Grebler and Rosalba O’Brien)

Hurricane Nate threatens U.S. central Gulf Coast after killing 25

Heavy machinery is used to remove mud from a highway that connects with the south of the country collapsed by Storm Nate in Casa Mata, Costa Rica October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

By Oswaldo Rivas

MANAGUA (Reuters) – Hurricane Nate may strengthen on Saturday, threatening to hit the U.S. central Gulf Coast with strong winds and storm surges after it killed at least 25 people in Central America.

New Orleans evacuated some residents from areas outside its levee system as Nate, a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest on a five-category scale used by meteorologists, churned towards the central Gulf of Mexico.

“Nate is at our doorstep or will be soon,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, adding that the winds could cause significant power outages, and storm surges are projected to be six to nine feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) high.

“We have been through this many, many times. There is no need to panic,” Landrieu told a news conference.

The storm brushed by Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, home to beach resorts such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as it headed north, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

With maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 kmh), Nate was about 345 miles (550 km) south-southeast of the Mississippi river and expected to strengthen before it makes landfall, the NHC said.

A state of emergency was declared for 29 Florida counties and states – Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi – as well as the New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The NHC issued a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.

“By Saturday noon you should be in your safe place,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey told a news conference. “This is a fast-moving storm and we must begin preparing now.”

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production was offline ahead of the storm, and more oil companies halted operations on Friday.

On Saturday morning, Nate was moving north-northwest at 22 miles per hour (35 kmh), a fast pace which if maintained could mean the storm does less damage when it hits land.


The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 12 people in Nicaragua, nine in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador.

Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and Costa Rica’s government declared a state of emergency.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis urged residents to remain vigilant, noting rains would likely resume.

In Honduras, residents wondered whether they would have to flee. Norma Chavez and her two children anxiously watched a river rise outside their home in Tegucigalpa, the capital.

“We are worried that it will grow more and carry away the house,” said Chavez, 45.

Through Monday, Nate is expected to produce two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) more rain in eastern Yucatan and western Cuba and three to six inches (8 to 15 inches) in the U.S. central Gulf Coast.

About 71 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production and 53 percent of natural gas output is offline ahead of Nate’s arrival, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said on Friday.

Oil companies have evacuated staff from 66 platforms and five drilling rigs, it said. Oil production equaling 1.24 million barrels of crude per day is offline, according to BSEE.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Alexander Smith)

Old San Juan shows its resilience after Puerto Rico hurricane

Jesus Santos sings operatic love songs while repairing plaster to a Hurricane Maria damaged facade at Cathedral of San Juan Bautista in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 4, 2017. Picture taken on October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hugh Bronstein

By Hugh Bronstein and Gabriel Stargardter

SAN JUAN (Reuters) – High atop the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, Jesus Santos applied plaster to the building’s damaged facade, all the while belting out operatic love songs that echoed through Old San Juan’s eerily empty streets.

The city’s colonial heart is usually noisy and bustling with life but on Wednesday Santos’ booming voice was the dominant sound. Since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, cutting off power and communications to much of the island, tourism has come to a near halt, and Old San Juan’s restaurants, bars and clubs have been hit hard.

The old city’s historic luxury hotel, El Convento, remains full, its staff said, thanks to dozens of U.S. federal employees sent in after the storm. But it is unclear how long they will stay and who will replace them once they leave.

Yadiel Martinez, 24, a supervisor at the hotel, said local tourism was just starting to recover from a difficult 2016 when the Zika virus outbreak led to thousands of cancellations.

Now, with Maria striking just before the high season begins in October, the tourism industry is taking another hit. Like many other hotels in the city, El Convento still does not have consistent water and electricity, Martinez said, and bookings are being canceled.

Compounding a bad situation, the bankrupt island is still struggling to get past a decade-long recession and a $72 billion debt crisis. It needs all the tourist revenue it can get.

“This is going to hit us very hard,” Martinez said, noting that El Convento would likely be affected for months but was not in as dire straits as many tourist-dependent businesses.

“Lots of hotels are going to close,” he predicted.

In Nono’s, a popular bar in Old San Juan, some Puerto Ricans were doing their bit to reactivate the local economy.


Nursing a Bud Light with a Fireball-and-horchata chaser, 37-year-old Brenda Ansa said she was on “forced vacation” from work in the wake of the hurricane.

With her dentist husband attending to an emergency, she said, she decided to come see how the old town had fared over a pre-lunch drink. She was surprised at the absence of people.

“This is like a ghost town,” she said.

Still, in some ways, Old San Juan is one of the city’s bright spots.

While the area sustained damage to roofs, windows and vegetation, most of the sturdy buildings in the historic neighborhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, came through the storm without major damage.

The old town’s fortified walls were built by the Spanish after the city was founded in 1508 by Ponce de Leon, and the cathedral where Santos, the singing plasterer, was working has survived 496 hurricane seasons.

Santos, 47, said his fellow workers in the old city appreciate his songs in the aftermath of the storm, especially one of the Cathedral’s priests.

“When I stop, he comes out and complains,” Santos said with a grin, before launching into another full-throated ballad.

Carlos Hernandez, 62, a refuse collector, was optimistic about the long-term future of the old city, even as he swept up debris from the storm.

“Tourism has gone to zero. Those who are here are residents and it’s up to us to do the cleanup,” he said with a wide, toothless smile.

But “I am a Boricua,” he said, employing a phrase islanders use to describe themselves. “And to keep a Boricua down, you have to hit him hard – and I mean hard!”

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Sue Horton and Bill Trott)

Morningside team arrives in Florida for disaster relief and YOU made it happen!

Mondo and Ricky in Immokalee, Florida on Disaster Relief visit.

By Kami Klein

Our team from Morningside is now outside of Naples Florida, in Immokalee, one of the hardest hit communities of Hurricane Irma.  With no power, lack of good drinking water and warm meals for families, the people in this community have been devastated but have gathered together as family and are working together to recover from this massive disaster.   

Mondo DeLaVega, Ricky Bakker, Tammy Sue Bakker, Daina Martin are joined by our camera crew David Zorob, Hamilton Neumann and Adam Armstrong on the ground in Florida ready to help distribute the food, water bottles and the precious leatherbound MEV Bibles to people who are hurting so much.  These donations would NOT have been possible without your generous donations and compassion!  

Immokalee, Florida is the center of the region’s agricultural industries in Florida and home to many immigrant and migrant families who work the vast fields that produce huge amounts of fresh produce to the United States.  Crops include cucumbers, bell peppers, citrus fruits and about 90% of the nation’s tomatoes that are harvested during the winter months.  

The Morningside team is working with Pastor Frank Rincon of Bethel International Assemblies of God.  This church has been the heart of a community that has been ravaged by Hurricane Irma.  In addition to  cooking and serving hot meals by the thousands, they have been responsible for distributing blankets, sleeping bags, diapers, pillows, bed sheets, coolers, T-shirts, towels, water filter kits, women’s essentials and tarps for roofs.  

“Volunteers are coming in from all of the United States to help here!” said Ricky Bakker, one of the Morningside team members. “It is amazing how people are coming together to help this community!”

The Morningside truck arrived soon after the team in Immokalee.  Hundreds of buckets have been unloaded and volunteers are ready to pass out 90 day buckets of food, rice, beans, dehydrated bananas, apples and milk along with water filter bottles from Seychelle to the many needy people in that community.  Ricky added that the rice and beans from donations to our Disaster Relief fund can stretch 3 or 4 thousand meals to 5 or 6 thousand hot meals for the families in Immokalee and surrounding areas.  “We don’t just want to bring food and water to them, we want to help offer a little bit of normal, add a little bit of comfort.”

You are the hands and feet of Jesus on the ground, and you are making a tremendous difference!  The Morningside team is there representing you and spreading the love of God to people who are desperate to hear it!  

Mondo said it best in a recent Facebook live post on The Jim Bakker Show Facebook page.    

“Thank you for being a part of the blessing of relief for these people so hard hit by disaster!  Because of your donations and faith you have given us the opportunity to serve this community!  Thank you for believing in our ministry!  Thank you for making this happen!”  

There is so much devastation here in the world today!  Hurricanes and flooding in Texas, in Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.  There are thousands of homeless people in Mexico due to earthquakes.  You ARE making an impact!  Your gifts are saving lives and helping to rebuild communities with your love and donations.  If you wish to give to our Disaster Relief and help be a part of the work that God asks of us, please give now to the Disaster Relief Fund! 

Matthew 25:42-45 MEV   42 For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44 “Then they also will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not serve You?’45 “He will answer, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it not for one of the least of these, you did it not for Me.’

Stay tuned for more updates on our Disaster Relief Team out on the field and watch for more Facebook live reports!

Hiscox estimates $150 million net claims from Harvey

FILE PHOTO: Jesus Rodriguez rescues Gloria Garcia after rain from Hurricane Harvey flooded Pearland, in the outskirts of Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo

By Noor Zainab Hussain

(Reuters) – Lloyd’s of London underwriter Hiscox Ltd <HSX.L> estimated it would face net claims of about $150 million from Hurricane Harvey and said it has yet to determine losses from Hurricane Irma.

Insurers and reinsurers are counting the cost of Harvey, which lashed Texas in the last week of August causing flooding that put it on the scale of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Hiscox said it had two main areas of exposure to the hurricane – reinsurance and insurance lines, including flood cover for homeowners and businesses.

“This (claims) is within the group’s modelled range of claims for an event of this nature, and reinsurance protections for the group remain substantially intact,” Hiscox said in a statement. It said its claims’ estimate was based on an industry forecast that Harvey would lead to a total insured market loss of $25 billion.

Hiscox shares fell 3.1 percent to 1212 pence by 0913 GMT, the second biggest loser on the Stoxx Europe 600 Price Index <.STOXX>, as analysts expected the company would face bigger losses from Hurricane Irma than Harvey.

Germany’s Munich Re <MUVGn.DE> last week warned it could miss its profit target this year, the first major reinsurer to flag a hit to earnings from damage caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan noted that the loss from Harvey equated to about 6 percent of Hiscox’s net tangible asset value as at the June end.

Hiscox said it would announce an estimate of net claims arising from Hurricane Irma, once the impact of that storm has become clearer.

Chief Executive Bronek Masojada said the storms meant insurance rates were on an uptrend.

“After a long period of price reductions, insurance rates in the affected areas and in specific sectors such as large property are likely to increase. In the wider global insurance market for large risks, we expect rates to stabilise and begin to increase,” Masojada said.

Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storms on record, ravaged several islands in the northern Caribbean, killing at least 60 people, before barrelling into Florida’s Gulf Coast, causing further destruction.

“With Irma expected to be a larger event, our initial view is this is slightly more negative than we had anticipated. We expect Hiscox to trade down today and expect uncertainty to persist around Beazley <BEZG.L> and Lancashire <LRE.L> who are yet to publish their own estimates,” Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Rufus Hone, said, referring to other Lloyd’s of London insurers.

Hone added that while the this year would likely be a net loss overall for Hiscox, it would not have “much of an impact” on the insurer’s expansion plans or put the dividend under threat.

Risk modelling firms RMS estimates insured losses from Harvey of $25-$35 billion, while AIR Worldwide forecast total insured losses in the United States for Irma of $25-35 billion.


(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru Editing by Anjuli Davies and Susan Fenton)