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Monday
Sep112017

US stocks close higher as investors relax after Irma

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors breathed a sigh of relief on Monday in the wake of Hurricane Irma's impact on the U.S. as Wall Street posted major gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 259.58 (+1.19 percent) to finish at 22,057.37.

The Nasdaq gained 72.07 (+1.13 percent) to close at 6,432.26, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,488.11, up 26.68 (+1.08 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was about 1.18 percent higher with prices at $48 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Apple Inc. climbed 1.81 percent ahead of the release of the newest iPhone.

Equifax Inc. is still reeling after it disclosed its massive data breach. Shares tumbled 8.20 percent on Monday.

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Monday
Sep112017

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma could cost US economy $290 billion, estimate says

ABC News (NEW YORK) --  Combined damages from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could cost the U.S. economy as much as $290 billion, according to a new forecast.

Hurricane Harvey, which battered Houston with record amounts of torrential rain and flooding last month, is estimated to be one of the costliest weather disasters in U.S. history and Irma is expected to cause record-breaking damages as well, AccuWeather President Joel Myers said in a statement Sunday.

"We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion," Myers said. "We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP."

"Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP, which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter," he added.

Myers said the economic costs includes disruptions to businesses, increased rates of unemployment, damage to infrastructure, crop losses, property damage and higher fuel prices.

"Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people," Myers said. "Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another."

At least five people died of storm-related injuries in Florida, including a sheriff's deputy, as Irma barreled across the Sunshine State with punishing wind gusts of up to 142 mph at its height. At least 27 people died in the Caribbean.

More than 4 million people were without power in Florida on Monday and many towns and cities imposed curfews. Miami-Dade police said early Monday they arrested 28 people for burglary and looting. Fort Lauderdale police also said they arrested several looters. More than 73,000 were powerless in Georgia.
Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday morning bring powerful winds, rain and flooding. The storm swamped parts of Naples and Miami on opposite coasts before moving north over the center of the state.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said it expected the storm’s center to remain inland over Florida and then move into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee where heavy rain and possible flash floods will be a major concern.

"This is a story for many days to come, and Florida will be ravaged the most through Sunday night and maybe north Florida Monday morning," Myers said.

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Sunday
Sep102017

What to do if Hurricane Irma blows you off the power grid 

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Roughly 1.6 million people are without power in Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma, and Elaine Duke, the acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, told ABC News on Sunday that "over 5 million households" could be without power before it’s over.

More specifically, three-quarters of the City of Miami has no access to power as the storm rolls through, according to the mayor.

Here's what to do if you're without power in a storm, according to a page on Ready.gov, a national public service campaign operated by the federal government.

Use flashlights and not candles

The government notes that candles can cause fires, and should be avoided.

Protect your food supply

The government suggests that the doors of refrigerators and freezers should be firmly closed, and that food requiring refrigeration can typically be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without causing concern.

"An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours," the government notes. "A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours."

Stay cool if it's hot, and wear layers in the cold

If the weather is hot, Ready.gov suggests, you should try to stay cool by wearing lightweight clothing, and drinking water, even if you do not feel thirsty.

If the weather if cold, wear layers and never burn charcoal for cooking or warmth.

Unplug

Ready.gov also recommends that Americans pull the plug or turn off appliances during a power outage to avoid momentary power surges.

Such incidents can damage computers and other devices, the website notes.

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Sunday
Sep102017

9-year-old boy pays for Irma evacuee's lunch: 'I felt like I should help'

Tara Parker Routzong(TROY, Ala.) -- A 9-year-old Alabama boy didn't want a Florida evacuee to worry about lunch ahead of Hurricane Irma, so he paid for his meal with the help of his proud mother.

Tara Parker Routzong told ABC News her son Landon noticed Friday that the car in front of them at their local Chick-fil-A had a Florida license plate, and the two figured the driver was an evacuee.

"I didn’t want them to waste their money on food because they’re trying to escape the hurricane," Landon Routzong, 9, said. "I felt like I should help out."

The Troy, Alabama, restaurant is on the evacuation route from Florida, Chick-fil-A director of operations Savannah Smith told ABC News.

The Chick-fil-A on Highway 231 has seen an increase in customers since local evacuation advisories were issued earlier this week, she added. Smith said the restaurant had wanted to "do something for everyone that came in our store" but weren't able to.

"So he asked if he could pay for the meal and of course I agreed," Routzong said of her son.

After Routzong told Smith, who's worked for the restaurant since 2013, of their plan, Smith informed them that since the evacuee was in the car ahead of them, they'd have to reach the window before he did to execute their kind deed.

Routzong then told her son: "Here's my debit card. Run!" And he did.

"He went up to the window and asked the gentleman in the car if he minded if he paid his meal," the mother recalled. "The man said yes and thanked him and shook his hand."

Routzong added that the unidentified man also pulled over and thanked her, confirming he was indeed an evacuee. Afterward, both her and her son were "almost in tears."

The mother later posted the heartwarming moment on Facebook, where it quickly went viral, with more than 1,000 reactions.

"I was really proud of him for doing that," she said of her normally shy son.

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Saturday
Sep092017

Parrots seek refuge from Irma on 22nd floor of Miami hotel 

Laura Aguiar(MIAMI) -- As Hurricane Irma bears down on south Florida, residents are taking shelter in droves -- but not all of them are human.

A family staying on the 22nd floor of the Miami Marriott Dadeland caught snapshots of two of Florida's more colorful residents, a pair of parrots, who were taking shelter from the beginnings of what is expected to be a very powerful storm.

U.S. parrots are found in the greatest numbers in parts of South Florida and California, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

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Saturday
Sep092017

'Functional hot mess' mom shares hilarious video hiding from other moms at bus stop

Nicole Walters/Facebook(ELLICOTT CITY, Md.) -- One mother of three is giving other moms some comfort by admitting she's not perfect -- just like them.

Nicole Walters, of Ellicott City, Maryland, calls herself a "functional hot mess" mom in a video that's gone viral on Facebook with more than 279,000 views by Saturday.

"I don't know about everybody else but I'm not faking the funk. I've not showered yet...because real life!" she continues in the hilarious video. "Don't judge me!"

Walters, 32, told ABC News she created the video Thursday while hiding out from other moms at the bus stop on her 6-year-old's second day of kindergarten.

The entrepreneur and her husband of 10 years Josh adopted three children -- now aged 6, 15 and 18 -- four years ago.

"I'm new to this," she admitted of parenting. "On the first day, I went out there and I just wasn't ready. I didn't have a bra on; I had a bonnet on. I wasn't ready to engage people on the level they were ready to engage with me."

Walters said being out on the bus stop felt like being in the "mom Olympics."

Although she didn't expect her latest video to go viral, Walters said she hopes it inspires other parents to give themselves a break.

"I really, really admire these moms out here who make it look easy, but I also recognize I'm not that mom," she said. "It's important to have fun with parenting because you're in it for the long haul."

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Friday
Sep082017

Few airline seats to be found as Miami evacuates 

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Residents and visitors of Miami are showing up to the airport in droves and finding very few seats available as Hurricane Irma approaches.

Despite airlines adding more than 10,000 additional seats by scheduling more flights and bigger aircraft out of South Florida since Wednesday, the demand is far outpacing the supply, airline officials told ABC News. Airline and airport officials say all flights are sold out, but they are working on bringing in additional planes to fly customers out.

Miami International Airport is urging people to book their reservation prior to going to the airport. If you don't have a reservation, please do not come, the airport said.

The last flight out of the major international gateway will be on Friday evening, according to an airport spokesperson, but given the constantly changing nature of flights, it's not clear which one that will be.

The decision to cancel flights on Saturday and Sunday at Miami International was a decision made by the airlines, not the airport or the FAA.

A spokesperson for the airport told ABC News if passengers are stranded after the last flight leaves, they will be bused to a shelter.

 

 

If it is unsafe or not possible to do so, they will be centrally located in the airport.

Airports have comprehensive plans for situations like a major hurricane. Long before the storm arrives, airport personnel, food, water and other resources are prepositioned to last for days.

While an airport is generally a safe place to take shelter, officials ask that people do not come to the airport for that purpose. While they have supplies to take care of stranded passengers, they are not designed to be a shelter for large amounts of people.

While Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has already announced it will close this weekend, Miami International Airport says it has no intention to do so, saying it will close only if the airport suffers serious damage.

 

 

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Friday
Sep082017

Florida man who gave generator to stranger down on her luck gets a free one

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- It was a moment that captured the hearts of many: A Florida woman tearfully embracing a complete stranger who'd given her his generator after she'd lost out on one of her own in the mad rush before Hurricane Irma.

On Thursday, ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando was at a Lowe's Home Improvement store as residents frantically prepared for Irma.

Sanford resident Pam Brekke had driven more than 30 miles from her home to buy a generator, of which the store had received a surprise shipment of little more than 200. Within two hours, though, the generators were gone. And Brekke, who had been next in line to buy one, got nothing.

Amid Hurricane Irma prep, Florida man offers generator to stranger in need

WFTV captured her breaking down in tears in a corner.

Enter Ramon Santiago of Orlando.

He also saw Brekke crying and insisted that she take the generator he'd carted but had not yet bought. Brekke shared that she'd wanted the generator not for herself but actually for her ailing father who needed it to power his oxygen supply.

"I'm worried about this storm," she told WFTV.

The two embraced and went their separate ways but their story -- a random act of kindness in the middle of chaos and stress before a deadly storm -- made the rounds not only on social media, but also at Lowe's.

When a new generator became available later that day, the store manager told WFTV that she immediately thought of Santiago. On Friday, Santiago returned to Lowe's with WFTV to get his own generator for free from the store.

"I wanted to make sure he received it because he definitely deserved it," manager Melissa Rodriguez told WFTV. "He's the hero of the day."

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Friday
Sep082017

What to know about the Equifax data breach

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Credit reporting agency Equifax announced Thursday that it was the victim of a cybersecurity hack that impacts well over one-third of the United States population, resulting in the possible release of personal information, including Social Security numbers.

An estimated 143 million people were affected by the breach, which took place earlier this year. Equifax states that it has enlisted an outside cybersecurity firm to investigate the incident and that the issue is currently contained.

Here's what you need to know:

What happened?

According to Equifax, between mid-May and July, "criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files." As a result of the breach, personal information including "names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers" could have been retrieved by the hackers, the company said.

"In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed," read a statement from Equifax.

How to know if you're affected

Equifax is encouraging the public to visit the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to learn more about the incident and discover whether they are impacted. The site requires individuals to enter some personal information, including their last name and the final six digits of their social security number.

For consumers unwilling to enter the information, Equifax will be mailing notices to people whose "credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted."

The agency cautions that they will not be contacting individuals by phone and that members of the public should not provide information to anyone who contacts them about the breach.

What should you do?

Equifax recommends that individuals closely monitor their financial accounts and credit scores for unauthorized activity. The agency is further offering a free year of "identity theft protection and credit file monitoring" through its TrustedID Premier service, and individuals can enroll for the monitoring on the website that confirms whether they are affected.

The terms of use for the service, however, includes an arbitration provision limiting the right of individuals to participate in any class action or class arbitration action taken against Equifax.

The Federal Trade Commission also offers advice on its dedicated website for identity theft incidents, www.identitytheft.gov.

Among the steps listed given the parameters of the Equifax breach, the FTC suggests placing a credit freeze or fraud alert, to prevent or make it more difficult for a third party to open accounts using personal information; filing your taxes early to keep others from claiming your refund or using your Social Security number to gain employment; and canceling credit and debit cards and requesting new ones.

TransUnion, which, along with Equifax and Experian, is one of the three major credit reporting agencies, said in a statement that it is evaluating the intrusion to determine any action it may take and that it offers free monitoring services for consumers seeking extra support.

ABC News has reached out to Experian but did not immediately receive a response.

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Friday
Sep082017

US stocks close mixed as Hurricane Irma nears Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed mixed on Friday as investors awaited Hurricane Irma's impact on the U.S. this weekend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 13.01 (+0.06 percent) to finish at 21,797.79.

The Nasdaq sunk 37.68 (-0.59 percent) to close at 6,360.19, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,461.43, down 3.67 (-0.15 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was about 3 percent lower with prices over $47.58 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  A better-than-expected second quarter report for Zumiez Inc. caused the retailer's shares to skyrocket 23.48 percent. Zumiez reported an earnings and revenue beat, as well as growth in same-store sales for August.

Shares of Kroger tumbled 7.51 percent after reporting earnings in the second-quarter that missed investors' expectations and fell below earnings per share for the same quarter last year.

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