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Hurricane Maria strengthens again as it heads toward Turks and Caicos

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(CNN) — Hurricane Maria regained strength Thursday morning as it continued to ravage the Caribbean, with the Turks and Caicos islands next in its crosshairs.

The Category 3 storm lashed the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with heavy rain and 115-mph winds.

It is likely to strengthen over the warm waters of the Turks and Caicos, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said. The low-lying islands are particularly at risk of high storm surges.

The best case scenario, he said, is that the storm could skirt the island chain 40-50 miles to the east.

The storm has left a trail of destruction over the past few days, devastating the island nation of Dominica and the US and British Virgin Islands before slamming into Puerto Rico.

Here’s what has happened on the islands that have already felt Maria’s impact:

Dominican Republic Bracing for flooding

Dominican officials said they were taking a cue from neighboring Puerto Rico’s experience — and were concerned about the potential for flooding from the heavy rainfall.

After Hurricane Irma passed through the country just days ago, the ground is still saturated and the rivers swollen.

As Maria regained strength early Thursday, the country was not expecting a direct landfall — the center of the storm was about 43 miles (70 km) west of Punta Cana, a popular resort city.

Airports have been shut down but are expected reopen at noon Thursday.

Stranded tourists have been moved into interior rooms of their hotels, leaving oceanfront suites and villas empty.

Puerto Rico: ‘100% without power’

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló said Maria is the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history.”

The island’s energy grid took such a severe blow from Maria that restoring power to everyone may take months, he told CNN.

The US territory has been through a long recession and is deeply in debt and has a state-owned power grid that is “a little bit old, mishandled and weak,” Rosselló told “Anderson Cooper 360˚.”

“It depends on the damage to the infrastructure,” he said. “I’m afraid it’s probably going to be severe. If it is … we’re looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.”

Retired army veteran Manuel Torres called the devastation of Maria the worst he’d ever seen. His mother’s house in La Perla, an oceanfront community in old San Juan, was completely destroyed. Emerging after the storm had passed, Torres found their three-story home reduced to two stories, and was missing a roof.

Angela Magaña, a UFC fighter who lives in the area, said neighbors were helping each other.

“We need cleanup, water, food, and generators,” she told CNN.

“There are a lot of old people here who are going without necessities. We need to rebuild and restructure, and we need prayers. Any kind of help we can get because it’s a mess right now.”

While the winds have subsided as the hurricane continues to move to the northwest, continued heavy rain in the mountainous country means there is still heavy flooding.

The National Weather Service in San Juan tweeted in the early hours of Thursday that the island is now “completely under a Flash Flood Warning. If possible, move to higher ground NOW.”

The weather service also tweeted: “catastrophic flash flooding continues with multiple Flash Flood.”

The island’s airports are closed until Friday if not Saturday, CNN’s Derek Van Dam said, pending proper inspection.

US President Donald Trump sent a message to Rosselló via his verified Twitter account, saying the US government is “with you and the people of Puerto Rico. Stay safe!”

Dominica: Nation in ‘survival mode’

At least 14 people are dead after the hurricane barreled through the island nation and many of those who survived have “gone into survival mode,” Charles Jong, a spokesman for Dominica prime minister’s office, told CNN.

Jong said he had exhausted his supplies of food and water, and that there was widespread looting on the island.

The spokesman said he has been through “Hurricanes Hugo, Gilbert, Lenny, and many others in St. Kitts, but being in Dominica for Maria was the most horrifying experience.”

Jong said the island’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, is “homeless,” and is “bunking up in an area called St. Aroment.” He added that Skerrit is considering moving into the “State House where the president lives.”

For the island’s 73,000 residents, there are urgent needs for water, food and medical equipment.

“The need is great,” Philmore Mullin, head of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services, said. “Damage is severe and widespread. We know of casualties, but not in detail. We’ve heard of many missing, but we just don’t know much at the moment.”

A flight Wednesday over the island nation revealed that the storm showed no mercy. CNN saw thousands of trees, snapped and strewn across the landscape, the island stripped of vegetation.

CNN also saw evidence of dozens of landslides, although not in population centers. The usually blue green seas in many places are now a muddy brown from the earth swept down hillsides and into the water.

Virgin Islands: Homes destroyed

Images showed the scale of the destruction that Maria caused as it barreled past the US and British territories.

Retired NYPD Detective Austin Fields, who has lived in the US Virgin Islands for 17 years, told CNN that his home was trashed by the storm.

He was staying with friends when Hurricane Maria came through St. Thomas, so he wasn’t able to see what happened to his house until this afternoon.

“My home is no longer a home,” he said. “Hasn’t hit me yet, but it will.”

Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the US Virgin Islands and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in his wine cellar on his private island in the British Virgin Islands. He spoke to CNN’s “New Day,” giving the message: “Climate change is real.”

“Look, you can never be 100% sure about links,” Branson said after CNN anchor John Berman asked if he saw a correlation between the recent hurricanes and climate change.

“But scientists have said the storms are going to get more and more and more intense and more and more often. We’ve had four storms within a month, all far greater than that have ever, ever, ever happened in history.

“Sadly, I think this is the start of things to come.”

Farm to table: McKinley Elementary students grow healthy foods in school garden

WQAD News -

Students at McKinley Elementary School  in Davenport are taking healthy cooking and eating to a whole new level.

50 to 60 second grade students, their parents and teachers from the school started a Farm to Table - School Garden Cooking program to promote healthy cooking and eating.

Vegetable are grown in a garden at the school and harvest every year. This year, students will take the food from their garden and make a Ratatouille dish that not only is healthy, but tastes delicious!

This is the school's sixth year doing the program.

Chef Robert Lewis, from Happy Joe's Pizza joined us on Good Morning Quad Cites to talk about the effort that is making a difference in children's lives.

He made the dish during the show and made our studio smell divine! Mouths were watering!

Recipe for the dish:

1 1/2 cup sliced zucchini

1 1/2  cup sliced yellow squash

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup diced egg plant

1/2 cup sliced red onion

1/2 cup sliced white onion

1/2 cup sliced red or green peppers

1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce

2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tbs fresh basil

1 tbs chopped garlic

2 tbs parmesan

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

1 - heat olive oil in pan

2- add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook until tender

3 - add all other ingredients and cook until tender

4 - add tomato pasta sauce

5 - add chopped fresh basil, parmesan cheese

6 - season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Chef Lewis is also known as the Happy Diabetic for happydiabetic.com

The Farm to Table program is made possible by the partnerships with Happy Joe's, McKinley Elementary School, Davenport School Systems, The Happy Diabetic, Amy Wine with the McKinley Parent Organization,  and Principal Aaron Vincent at McKinley Elementary whose efforts go to help kids and teachers do great things together to enrich lives.  

We Need YOUR Questions for the Vice President of Western Illinois University-Quad Cities

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Hundreds of students in Illinois and Iowa are continuing their education after high school at Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Campus and school leaders want that number – and the campus – to grow.

On Thursday, September 28th, we are having “Breakfast With…” the Vice President for WIU-QC, Dr. Joseph Rives, live on Good Morning Quad Cities at Dead Poet’s Espresso in Moline.

We’re going to ask Dr. Rives about the exciting things happening at WIU-QC in the 2017-18 school year, how the long-term impact of the state’s budget impasse, and what the future looks like for the riverfront campus.

If you have any questions/comments for Dr. Rives, fill out the form below:

[contact-form]

This “Breakfast With…” comes after visiting the newest residence hall at the University of Iowa, learning about the progress of a huge project for Scott Community College, talking about the Illinois school funding battle with East Moline Schools Superintendent Mr. Kristin Humphries, previewing Kewanee Hog Days, and spending a morning at the Bureau County Fairgrounds.

To see all our “Breakfast With…” discussions, click here.

Davenport Police seek help finding missing man

WQAD News -

Chuanyong Li, photo from the Davenport Police Department

DAVENPORT — Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a man who was reported missing.

Chuanyong Li, age 65, is described as standing 5-feet, 7 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen in the area of 3500 Jersey Ridge Road, wearing a black T-shirt with white stripes, grey shorts and grey shoes.

If you have any information you are asked to call 911.

 Moline Police seek help in finding man who’s missing ‘under suspicious circumstances’

Watch Live: Overnight rains exceed 5 inches in spots

WQAD News -

Non-stop thunderstorms provided Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois with gusty winds and torrential rainfall overnight. Some areas received more than 5 inches. Flash Flood Warnings are in effect for Scott, Rock Island, and Muscatine County through 8 a.m. Watch for low-lying areas on your morning commute and never cross a flooded roadway, even if it doesn't seem deep. Rainwater could undermine the road structure, causing dangerous conditions.

The Davenport fire chief tells WQAD News 8 that overnight flash flooding caused people to become stranded in cars. Rain showers will weaken through sunrise with dry skies expected after 9 a.m. Below you'll find a look at how much rain has fallen so far this morning. Submit storm reports by clicking here. 

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

Lightning starts garage on fire overnight in Davenport

WQAD News -

The Davenport Fire Department is investigating a house fire that occurred in the early morning of September 21.

The fire happened around 2:45 a.m. in the 45-hundred block of Eastern Avenue, near the Windsor Crest Club and Mt. Nebo cemetery.

When crews arrived the entire garage was fully engulfed in flames, which was behind the house.

It took crews 15 minutes to put out the fire.

Davenport District Fire Chief Robbie Minnaert say this was the third fire that was caused by lightning, but no one was hurt in any of them.

Chief Minnaert also say the storm also caused first-responders to be out rescuing people from their cars due to high waters.

Davenport Police Department requests 150 body cameras for officers

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT -- The Davenport Police Department asked the City Council for permission to buy 150 body cameras during Wednesday night's council meeting.

The cameras, which would be implemented over the next six years and would cost $550,000, are worn on the officer's shirts and then the data is uploaded through a wireless system.

In addition to the cameras, the officers also asked for camera mounts and charging station equipment.

Officers say the cameras would help them to be more transparent with community members.

The decision is expected to go in front of Davenport City Council for a vote next week.

 

Little York boy makes it to the Bigs with Milwaukee Brewers

WQAD News -

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin-- Every day's a good day when you're living your dream.

Players at Miller Park get ready to go, but they can't play without him. Meet 22-year-old Andrew Raes, a top groundskeeper for the Milwaukee Brewers.

"A lot of people thought I'd be a farm kid and country boy," remembers Andrew. "I'm like uh uh. You can count me as a city boy now."

Andrew grew up in Little York, Illinois. Little York has a population of 300 people.

"Greg was brought up on a family farm, I was brought up on a family farm," says Andrew's mom Michelle.

Andrew was brought up on something else, baseball. He was good at the game but excelled in the work behind it. He constructed and cared for his own baseball field right in his backyard.

"If he painted wrong, he would pull the grass out. It had to be perfect," says Andrew's dad, Greg.

The pro perfected his home field everyday, his fans, Greg and Michelle, watched.

"Making a mound the right height, then he'd make his steps to measure out the bases," remembers Greg.

"He would have Greg and I come out to the field to look at it and give our input, although I don't know why he was asking us. He knew more about it than we ever did," says Michelle.

But Andrew didn't stop there.

"I walked outside and saw the paint on the barn, and I thought oh my gosh, what is his dad going to say," says Michelle.

Andrew, without his parents permission, spray painted his very own yellow foul line pole onto the family barn to complete his field.

Andrew eventually left his field of dreams to pursue his even further. He studied field management in college and landed a job in the Minors with the Burlington Bees. His fan club grew along the way.

"There are certain things you have to do, and something he would go above and beyond to do to make it look that nice," remembers Andrew's colleague Tom Gray.

But it was the field he took care of first along with his loyal fans from day one that ultimately took care of him.

"Keep dreaming. There is nothing you can't achieve if you keep trying, and he keeps proving that everyday," says Michelle.

Every day's a good day when you're living your dream.

"When I first walk in [to Miller Park], in the back of my mind I say it's a dream come true," says Andrew.

But that dream's even better when that dreamer remembers where it all began.

"It never gets old, it never gets old," says Andrew.

Debate continues over new Taco Bell in Davenport

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT -- The debate over whether or not to allow a new Taco Bell to open in Davenport is getting, well, spicy.

The proposed restaurant would sit on the corner of West Kimberly Road and Sturdevant Street, right next to the Quick Star Gas Station.

Some say the property, which has been vacant for 17 years, is perfect for the food joint, while others say it would only add to the existing traffic nightmare.

Back in 1999, the land was set to be a Shnucks Grocery Store but the project fell through.

 

VIDEO: Incoming storms light up Wednesday night skies

WQAD News -

As rain moved into the area, the sky began to light up with spectacular lightning shows. Check out some of the videos we received from News 8 viewers.

From Joe Harris in Bettendorf:

From Jereon Van de Sande between Woodhull and Andover:

From Nathan Bell:

From Karen Berhenke in Moline:

It may not be video but we had to include this picture captured by Kala Peterson while trying to get the cat inside:

Iowa Supreme Court hears woman’s $75 speeding ticket case

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa woman who says she was wrongly ticketed by an automated traffic camera when she wasn't speeding has accomplished the unusual feat of getting the state Supreme Court to consider her $75 small-claims case.

For Marla Leaf, 67, it's not about money, but about constitutional rights. Her attorney, James Larew, argued Wednesday that the city of Cedar Rapids, where Leaf lives and was ticketed, is violating equal protection and due process clauses of the Iowa Constitution in part because it delegates police power to Gatso USA — the private, for-profit company hired to run the equipment.

Leaf said she pursued the case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court for a simple reason: She's not guilty. Given her experience, she also questioned whether Cedar Rapids' system is fair to motorists.

"Why should I pay for a ticket I didn't do," she asked after the hearing. "Why should others have to pay for tickets they didn't do?"

Leaf's case, which the Iowa Supreme Court combined with another case with similar arguments involving six vehicle owners, is unusual because small claims rarely make it to the state's highest court.

"It shows that what seems sometimes like the smallest case can actually involve really major issues," said Drake University law professor Mark Kende.

Such cases are closely watched by other communities with automated traffic equipment, much of which is run by private companies. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 142 communities in the United States use automated speed camera systems and 420 have automated red light cameras.

Leaf was driving her Ford Mustang home from an eye doctor's appointment on Feb. 5, 2015, when the automated speed camera system on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids clocked her at 68 mph in a 55 mph zone. She recalls the roads were icy and she was driving so slowly that cars were passing her on both sides. Leaf, who had never had a speeding ticket, insists she was traveling between 50 and 55.

Cases involving traffic cameras have been appealed before to federal and state courts on various constitutional grounds, but it's unusual for the Iowa Supreme Court to take a case already considered once on appeal. The cases heard Wednesday were assigned to the Iowa Court of Appeals last year and in February the court ruled in favor of the city. Leaf and the other ticketed vehicle owners sought and were granted further review from the Supreme Court.

One of their arguments is based on the fact that semitrailers and government vehicles are not ticketed by the automated Cedar Rapids interstate cameras. Larew claims in court documents that it's "clearly arbitrary and unreasonable."

Patricia Kropf, an attorney for the city, contends that doesn't matter.

"Incremental problem solving or under inclusiveness does not make an ordinance unconstitutional," she argued in court documents.

Another argument centers on a requirement that citations be appealed to a city administrative hearing officer, which in Leaf's case was the son of a police officer. Larew alleges that denies people of their right under state law to appeal directly to a magistrate or district court judge.

But Kropf pointed out that the ticketed vehicle owners obviously have had the opportunity to appeal to the courts.

Several justices seemed skeptical about the city's contentions, especially regarding whether it was clear to ticketed motorists that they could appeal their fines through the court system and why semitrailers weren't ticketed.

Kropf noted the citation sent to motorists that outlined their options now has been changed to add clarity.

"Hindsight is 20-20," she told the justices.

Larew said the case also raises fundamental questions about whether the city can impose fines on people driving on a federal interstate highway. Iowa is the only state to allow automated speed cameras on interstates.

The Iowa Department of Transportation ordered the speed cameras removed a year before Leaf was ticketed in February 2015, but Cedar Rapids has been allowed to keep then while it appeals. The state agency requires speed cameras to be at least 1,000 feet from a posted speed reduction, but Larew said the camera is 896 feet beyond a sign that reduces the speed limit from 60 mph to 55 mph.

It likely will be several months before the court makes a decision.

‘Totally disgusting’: Neighbors shocked by Oklahoma man’s decorations

WQAD News -

GUTHRIE, Okla. – Some residents in the Oklahoma city of Guthrie say decorations for Halloween at one home may have gone too far.

Swinging, bloody props that have many people thinking they're real can be found hanging from a tree in front of Tyler Everest's home.

"Totally disgusting, and scary, and way out of control for the age limit of the kids on the street," one neighbor told KFOR.

Some people have even contacted law enforcement to see if Everest is breaking any laws or ordinances, but police say it's all protected by free speech.

"It would have to be something way more graphic, something with profanity. If they had a name or something written on them, something like that would be against the law," said Sgt. Jeremy Thorne with the Guthrie Police Department.

Everest defended his Halloween the decorations, which he says are his passion.

"It’s really the only time of year that people like me who love the unknown, love haunted houses, love horror movies can really express how much they like it," Everest said.

He's been going all out at Halloween for years. His truck is covered year-round in zombie decals.

"I don't ever mean anything to be mean, rude, or anything like that," Everett said. "It's always in good fun."

He typically starts decorations mid-September to spread out cost and labor.

All the pieces for the bodies, an idea he said he got from Pinterest, were cheap or already on hand.

"Foam head from Hobby Lobby, and a cheap mask from Walmart," he said. The head and mask are fitted onto a shirt and jeans stuffed with pillows and linens, covered in fake blood, then wrapped in plastic and hung from the tree.

He said he's gotten positive feedback from passersby.

As for the negative comments, he hopes those people will have patience.

"If you wait, you get more of the 'oh, it’s not just dead bodies in a tree, it’s a cemetery.' People are just jumping to conclusions," he said.

And Everett said he plans to keep half of the yard kid friendly so that any kids scared of the frightening decorations can still get candy.

Why a Michigan man carries an American flag and wears a tutu on his morning run

WQAD News -

WYOMING, Mich. – He's well known to his neighbors in Kent County, Michigan – it's hard to miss a man jogging while carrying an American flag and wearing a tutu.

At first glance, one might think he's a little nuts, and Robert Woldhuis will admit that he kind of is. He's an ultra runner, now training for a 50 mile race, but Fridays are what he calls 'Fly the Flag Friday' and it's getting a lot of attention.

Everyone has a favorite superhero. Some people might say Batman or Superman, but what about 'Tutuman?' Woldhuis told WXMI it started in 2014, when he wore a tutu during a race.

The costume stuck, and now 'Tutuman' can be seen running around Wyoming carrying the American flag and wearing a ballet skirt every week.

"People smiled and engaged with me as I was running by and I thought, you know what, something this simple brings a little bit of joy and a little bit of light into someone's life, then absolutely I'm all about doing it," said Woldhuis.

But there's a little more to it. Woldhuis is an Army veteran and is hoping to send a message by carrying the flag.

"The flag is a very important thing for me," said Woldhuis. "Carrying the flag on Fly the Flag Friday is just getting people that are busy with their lives and busy with everyday stuff to stop for just one second and realize that a lot of people have died for this flag. A lot of people have sacrificed so much for this flag and if they just see this for one second and they remember that, then it's worth it."

Woldhuis says he remembers why he carries the flag when it starts to get heavy.

"It's a good reminder of why I'm carrying it," said Woldhuis. "When it gets to where your arm is cramping up, it's just a good reminder that so many people have fought and died for this flag. I'm honored to carry it just so one person could possibly remember why we have this flag."

But what about the tutu?

"This is just about getting people to laugh, smile a little bit and have a good time and just be in the moment," said Woldhuis.

Woldhuis tells people to not take life too seriously and hopes people passing by will smile and laugh, because a decade ago life was very different for him.

"Ten years ago, my two oldest sons were killed in a car accident," said Woldhuis. "I kept it together for about a year or so and then after that I lost it and started self-medicating."

Woldhuis fell into a dark place, using drugs and eventually getting in trouble with the law.

"I decided I needed to get my life together," said Woldhuis. "I'm not honoring anybody's memory by doing the things that I'm doing. I'm not living to my full potential."

In 2010, it was running that helped turn his life around.

"Sobriety for me is very important and running goes hand in hand with that," said Woldhuis.

Now, he hopes to inspire others with his story and make one person think and maybe smile.

"Every day is a gift," said Woldhuis. "Just to be able to bring a little bit of joy and happiness into somebody's life at this point knowing where I was 10 years ago is a blessing to me."

Woldhuis runs every morning, but only carries the flag and wears a tutu on Fridays. If you want to see him, he runs around 6:30 every morning starting near 36th and Byron Center in Wyoming.

How to protect yourself from identity theft

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT-- Almost 143 million Americans had their personal information exposed after a data breach from Equifax.

That's almost half the population and the chances of those affected being in Iowa and Illinois are very likely.

During a presentation on what to do if you've been hacked at the Davenport Library, many Quad Citians shared their concerns.

"We have to be aware in this age of technology," says attendee Mona Martin.

Although Martin wasn't hacked, she's looking for answers on how to make sure it stays that way. Her questions were answered by Certified Public Accountant Douglis Reiling of CPA Oelerich and Associates.

"Once people have that data available, they can take and use it for things like opening new credit cards in someone else's name with a few simple tricks they rack up debt in someone elses account," says Reiling.

If your personal information has been hacked, Reiling recommends signing up for free Identity theft protection with Equifax.

"Probably the most common question I got today was how did Equifax do this and why should I trust to help it(...) simply the damage is already done they already have this data out there. Turning down free help from somebody who is trying to make it right probably isn't in your best interest," says Reiling.

But Reiling says if you are still a little skeptical to try a different website.

Other tips included are

  • Freeze accounts with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
  • Set up transaction alerts on bank and other accounts
  • Change passwords
  • Monitor accounts frequently
  • Check your credit score

"All people need to do is go through them line by line and make sure there's nothing on there that shouldn't be on there," says Reiling.

With the constant change in technology, Reiling says it's possible for more data hacks in the future.

"Hacking is apparently going to be a part of our society now and I think we all need to learn how to deal with it, cope and move forward," says Reiling.

In this new age, people need to be aware of hackers and always be two steps ahead of them.

"It's part of the new information technology age. The internet the world wide web...we are all more connected and therefore more at risk," says Martin.

 

 

Moline looks to get rid of first-responder fee

WQAD News -

MOLINE - The city of Moline is looking to get rid of it's first-responder fee.

Currently, non-residents of Moline are charged if a first-responder comes to the scene of an accident they caused.

The charges are $66 for police, $262 for a fire truck and $127 for an ambulance.

Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri says the revenue received from this fee could be made up in other ways.

"We would consider it as a potential financial benefit because if people feel more welcome to shop in Moline, we'll have more sales tax revenue, so I think that we feel like it will be a financial wash," said Acri.

The proposal to eliminate the fee still has to go to council but passed 7-0 during the Bi-Annual Review.

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