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Saturday
Jun252016

Flood-Stricken West Virginia Counties Get Federal Disaster Designation

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — Three West Virginia counties devastated by flooding will receive federal disaster assistance, the state's governor announced Saturday as the death toll rose again.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide individual assistance, which includes emergency medical support, housing and addresses a number of immediate needs, to residents in Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, West Virginia officials said Saturday.

Authorities said this afternoon that the death toll from the flooding had risen to 24, after another body was recovered in Greenbrier County.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has called the flooding "among the worst in a century" for some parts of the state.

 

 

The body of a child who was swept away in fast-moving floodwaters was found Friday morning, about a mile from where he was last seen in Jackson County Thursday, the Ravenswood Fire Department said. Also among the dead are a man whose body was found in a home in the Clendenin area, and two females whose bodies were found in a home near Little Sandy Creek, with all three presumed to have drowned, according to the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.

Initial reports showed 100 homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, the governor said.

But amid the tragedies were stories of heroic actions, Tomblin said: police rescued a woman trapped in her car with water rising to her neck, and some people risked their lives to rescue others who were stranded on rooftops and in rivers.

A state of emergency was declared in 44 of the state's 55 counties.

Some 200 National Guard members were helping Friday in eight counties, Tomblin said.

Rescue efforts were also underway Friday to save hundreds of people who became stranded inside a West Virginia mall overnight after a bridge connecting the shopping center to a main road collapsed and washed away, officials told ABC News.

About 500 people, including employees and customers, became got stuck inside the Crossings Mall in Elkview, about 12 miles from Charleston, around 4 p.m. Thursday, said Rick McElhaney, assistant deputy director with Metro 911 in Kanawha County.

First responders Saturday walked some people from the mall around to a back road to board public transportation, an official with the Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center told ABC News Friday morning.

"I have a farm, I have got to get home," one woman said while walking down a steep hill behind the mall.

Crews were also working Friday to build a gravel road to get people out. But some people stayed at the mall because their homes were flooded.

The flooding attracted the attention of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is in Scotland. He tweeted, "Thoughts and prayers are with everyone in West Virginia- dealing with the devastating floods. #ImWithYou."

 

 

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun252016

2 Dead in California Fire That Torched 19,000 Acres

iStock/Thinkstock(LAKE ISABELLA, Calif.) -- Firefighters in central California are struggling to contain a devastating fire of "epic proportions" that's killed two people, according to Kern County Fire.

The Erskine fire, which began Thursday afternoon, continued to spread Saturday across the Lake Isabella area of Kern County. It's affected more than 19,000 acres.

California Gov. Edmund Grown declared a state of emergency for Kern County.

“Anne and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to everyone impacted by this destructive blaze,” said Brown said in a statement. “We join all Californians in expressing our gratitude to the courageous firefighters, emergency personnel and volunteers working tirelessly throughout Kern County to help residents and extinguish this fire.”

As of Saturday morning, about 100 structures were lost and 1,500 more were threatened.

The cause of the fire is not known, Tyler Townsend of Erskine Creek Fire said this morning.

There are 600 firefighters battling the blaze with several hundred more expected to arrive on scene.

Officials have called it a "firefight of epic proportions."

With wind gusts over 20 miles per hour, the fire covered 11 miles in 13 hours.

"I've been a firefighter for nine years," Townsend said during a Facebook Live broadcast Thursday. "This is definitely the most destructive fire I've ever been to."

"This fire's driven by winds, steep terrain," he continued. "We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can."

Evacuations are in place for some neighborhoods and the Kern Valley hospital has also been evacuated. There was a great sense of urgency as many homes in the area have propane tanks and some could be seen exploding in Townsend's video.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun252016

Homeless Grumpy Cat Adopted by Home Inspector

Paul Tateosian(BRADENTON, Fla.) -- When Paul Tateosian and Jason Burnside showed up to an empty house in Bradenton, Florida, for a home inspection, the last thing they expected to find was somebody still living there. But that’s exactly what happened when Tateosian, a real estate agent assistant, stumbled upon a little orange furball with a particularly grumpy face.

“I was walking around the around looking at the roof and when I got around to the back and this little guy was just sitting there,” Tateosian told ABC News of the extremely thin, matted Persian kitten he immediately nicknamed Garfield. “His face, he just looked so upset, like he was so bent out of shape. I just went up to him and I bent down and even though he looked really upset, he was really happy to see us.”

“He looked pretty hungry so I cut him a mango from a mango tree next door. But he hated it,” he said.

Burnside, a home inspector, had been inside examining the house with the future buyers as Tateosian and Garfield were outside making fast friends. Once he walked back out though, he, too, was immediately drawn to the affectionate kitten and knew he needed to help.

Burnside believes the cat was left behind by the previous renters, but hasn’t yet taken it to the vet to check for a chip.

Although extremely grumpy-looking, the kitten couldn’t have been friendlier with the two men.

“I set the backseat down in the truck and set a towel down and she just went to sleep,” Burnside explained. “I got her home and my girlfriend and her friend, who works at a vet's office in town, helped clean her up because her tail was all matted. Her tail was so mangled she couldn’t even pick it up. We got her in the house and wrapped her in a towel and shaved her tail and cut all the nastiness away from her, and she was just happy as can be. It took her about a day to start eating again.”

Burnside’s mother just recently lost her pet cat, so she is now thrilled to be adopting Garfield, who is now named Girdy because they’ve discovered she’s actually a female.

“She has an appointment at the vet’s office the beginning of next week to get all checked out to make sure she’s good to go,” said Burnside. “We got her all cleaned up and taken care of. She’s in good hands now.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun252016

Man Raises $103K for Teen Who Offered to Help Carry Groceries

Matthew Michael White(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- A Memphis teenager asked a stranger at the grocery store to buy him and his mother some food in exchange for carrying the man's groceries to his car, and what happened next will tug at your heartstrings.

An unlikely bond formed between the pair, and within two weeks, the stranger helped raise more than $103,000 to support the teen and his mother, who is disabled. Friday, that stranger, Matt White, told ABC News that he helped the teen, Chauncy Black, and his mother move into a new house with the money they raised.

"When Chauncy approached me, it just tugged at my heart," White said. "Here comes Chauncy, just trying to get food for him and his Mom off of the grace of other people. When I looked at him and saw what he was doing and what he was asking for, I said he was my hero."

So White set up a GoFundMe page for the teen and his mother. It's touched the hearts of many, garnering over 8,900 shares and raising more than $103,000 in less than two weeks.

"Chauncy lives in Memphis with his disabled mother," White explains on the crowdfunding site. "He is a straight A student who is doing his best to make it in a world with no money and very few resources. He wants to work and help his mother financially."

White's original Facebook post sharing the story also has more than 10,000 likes.

"Chauncy came up to me at the Kroger here in Memphis, and he had taken a bus in from South Memphis just hoping that someone would buy him some food," White told ABC News.

White said Chauncy asked him for donuts, but White knew that the teen needed more food than that, "So we just went aisle by aisle and he told me his story, about him and his Mom, and we just went through the store and got him his necessities, about a week's worth of groceries.

"He missed the bus, so I drove him back to his house and I saw what he and his mom lived in, and just how much the groceries meant to them. Then I went home and posted on Facebook."

White said he just shared the story with his friends, and had no idea his and Chauncy's story would go viral.

White told ABC News how inspired and encouraged he is by the outpouring of love from his community, and that he wants to encourage others to "look for Chauncys out there, look for them and their stories."

"I live to fulfill God's heart and God has a heart for the fatherless and for the needy," White said. "The focus of this is not me and what I did, because I really didn't do anything. I just captured a story and put it online but our community, Memphis, picked up this family and put them on a platform."

Chauncy Black told ABC News that his favorite subject in school is math and that when he grows up he wants to be a business owner.

He is currently in 10th grade and plans to launch a lawnmowing business over the summer while he is out of school to support him and his mother.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun252016

Illinois Man Has Won the Lottery Twice Using Same Numbers

Illinois Lottery(MATTESON, Ill.) -- A man named Gambles has won the lottery for a second time using the same five numbers he plays every week.

Larry Gambles, of Matteson, Illinois, has been buying seven lottery tickets -- one for every day of the week -- for the last 15 years, he told ABC News. On June 7, the 65-year-old won more than $1 million dollars playing the Lucky Day Lotto, and nine years ago, he won $50,000 when it was still called the Little Lotto, he said.

Every day, Gambles plays the numbers 01 – 06 – 12 – 14 – 25, which represent the jersey number of one of his football heroes, his jersey numbers from when he played football and basketball in high school, and the number he wore while in a fraternity at the University of Illinois.

"I always play the same numbers," Gables said. "I never change it."

The retired school administrator, who worked for Chicago Public Schools, said once a week he buys seven lottery tickets for the week from a gas station on his way home "in case there's a snowstorm" or something that prevents him from getting there, he said. (In Illinois, you can buy tickets for the Lucky Day Lotto up to 25 days in advance.) The highlight of Gambles' day is when he comes home from his daily workout to look up the winning numbers, which he does in a print newspaper delivered to his home every morning.

Gambles said he feels "extremely lucky" to have won the lottery a second time, but doesn't believe it has anything to do with his last name.

"I equate gambling with dice, cards and casinos," he said. "To me, lottery is just luck."

Gambles, who was born and raised in Illinois, plans to set up annuities for his 34-year-old daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter once he receives the check. After that, he has no major plans for his winnings, other than sharing his good fortune with family and friends, he said.

He will keep on playing the lottery every day, using the same numbers.

"I will continue until I can't play anymore," he said. "I feel very fortunate, and I feel blessed, and I’m very grateful."

The gas station that sold the winning ticket will receive a $10,500 bonus, 1 percent of the prize amount, according to the Illinois Lottery. More than 36,000 people won prizes ranging from $1 to $200 in the June 7 drawing.

Gambles' advice to fellow lottery players: “Pick your favorite numbers and stick with them. It worked for me!”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jun252016

New York's Mega Millions Jackpot Rises to $390 Million

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The upcoming New York Mega Millions drawing will be for a whopping $390 million, one of the largest jackpots in the game’s history, after there were no winners in Friday’s drawing.

The numbers drawn on Friday for a $363 million jackpot, the game's sixth-largest jackpot to date, were 54-57-63-14-11, and the Mega Ball was 11.

There were three second-prize winners for $1 million who matched all five of Friday’s winning numbers but not the Mega Ball. No one has chosen all five winning numbers plus the Mega Ball in the last 31 drawings.

The next drawing will be on Tuesday at 11 p.m. EST. Visit the New York Lottery website to check your numbers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Couple Struck by Lightning in Daytona Beach, Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A Georgia couple visiting Florida was struck by lightning while wading in ankle-deep water off Daytona Beach on Friday just before 5 p.m.

Capt. Tamra Marris, of Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue, told ABC News that an adult male and female were taken unconscious from the beach and transported to a local hospital. The male victim woke up while being transported to the hospital, while the female regained consciousness later, Capt. Marris said.

A third victim reported feeling a tingle in the water but walked back to a nearby hotel and was attended to by emergency crews.

Multiple witnesses at the scene around the Hyatt Daytona Beach Shores hotel called 911 after seeing the lightning strike. It was unclear if the lightning struck the couple directly, or the water nearby.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Friday
Jun242016

Deputies Recount Horrific Scene at Pulse Nightclub in Incident Reports

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Orange County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the scene at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando the night a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 more recounted the "chaotic" scene they witnessed as they tended to the wounded and tried to bring patrons to safety, according to incident reports recently released to the public.

As deputies -- who assisted with evacuations and held a perimeter until Orlando PD SWAT arrive -- got to the scene in the early morning hours of June 12, they were told that it was an "active shooter" situation and that there were "multiple victims" in the area who were "seriously injured with gunshot wounds," according to the report.

As soon as one deputy approached the scene, the first thing he saw was EMS tending to victims.

"The scene was chaotic as many of the victims had gunshot wounds and some who had been carried over appeared to be dead," the officer wrote in the incident report.

The officer was tasked with crowd control, he said, as several of the victims and witnesses were "hysterical." Victims who were fatally and critically wounded were being placed behind a nearby bagel shop and the wounded who were able to walk were placed in the parking lot.

A deputy who was positioned on the south entrance of the club saw three to four deceased victims in the parking lot, as well as several people exiting the building, the report said. When he saw a woman who was shot, he assisted an Orlando Police Department officer in moving her away from the building, he said. He then saw a second woman who had been shot and attempted to ask her about what she witnessed, but she did not have any information to provide, the officer reported. He then heard "numerous sounds of gunfire" inside.

While taking cover on the east side of the building just outside of the patio, one deputy described covering the other officers as they extracted injured victims from inside the club.

Another deputy described hearing shots fired as he approached the club on foot and seeing people covered in blood running out of the building and several more in the parking lot who suffered from gunshot wounds. That officer assisted in carrying the injured people to vehicles to be taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, the report stated.

A deputy who helped carry a man who appeared to have gunshot wounds to his right forearm and left shin remembered exactly what he was wearing: a black T-shirt and blue jeans. The officer then responded to the hospital after reports of shots fired there. When he arrived, he was advised by security that shots hadn't been fired and he positioned himself in the emergency room to assist with the hospital's lockdown protocol.

First responders have been grappling with the emotional toll of witnessing the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in recent American history.

"It was like a war scene," EMT Julio Salgado told ABC News earlier. "It was load and go. Just get them out of there."

Some officers have been hailed as heroes for rescuing wounded patrons as shots continued to ring out.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS during a call to authorities as the massacre was going on.

Officials have called the shooting an act of terrorism and a hate crime.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Friday
Jun242016

Pentagon to End Transgender Ban for Military in July 

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is set to end the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military in July, according to Defense official.

One official says the lifting of the ban could be announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter as soon as July 1, though final details remain to be worked out, which could delay the announcement.

Defense officials confirm that there will be a meeting Monday involving top personnel officers from all of the military services to discuss the transgender ban.

According to one of the officials, lifting the ban will be followed by a one-year implementation plan to address housing and personnel issues that would be required.

Last July, Carter announced lifting the ban and formed a task force to review how that would occur. He directed the task force to work under the assumption that the ban would be lifted.

The task force's assessment continued beyond the original six-month deadline and recommendations were not presented until February.

It is unclear how many transgender people might be serving in the military, but one study by UCLA estimated there could be as many as 15,000 among the 1.3 million active duty force.

"Our transgender service members and their families are breathing a huge sigh of relief," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, President of the American Military Partner Association, in a statement issued Friday following a USA Today story that broke the news of the pending announcement.

"Soon, anyone who is qualified will finally be able to serve our great nation, regardless of their gender identity. We are eagerly anticipating the details of this historic announcement, and we are incredibly grateful for the leadership Secretary Carter has shown in getting us to this critically important point for our military families."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Friday
Jun242016

Dozens Injured After Walking on Hot Coals at Tony Robbins Event

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Dozens suffered burn injuries Thursday night in Texas after walking across hot coals as part of a self-help program put on by celebrity motivational speaker Tony Robbins, according to Dallas authorities.

"Unleash the Power Within," a three-and-a-half-day event with Robbins held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, promised to help participants "achieve your goals and improve the quality of your life," according to Robbins' website.

One method of self-improvement on the schedule for Thursday evening was to "storm across a bed of hot coals" in order to "overcome the unconscious fears that are holding you back," the website stated. "Once you start doing what you thought was impossible, you’ll conquer the other fires of your life with ease." The event schedule has since been removed from the website.

At least five people ended up hospitalized, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR).

In total, approximately 30 to 40 people were evaluated at the convention center for minor burn injuries and as many as five rescue units and two EMS supervisors were assigned to help manage the situation, Jason Evans, a spokesman for the DFR, said in a statement.

"Apparently, as part of a motivational event being held at the location, several people attempted to walk across hot coals. As a result, a large number of these people sustained burn injuries to their feet and lower extremities," Evans said in a statement.

"This is not something I can personally recall having seen before," Evans told ABC News Friday.

In a statement, Robbins' spokeswoman Jennifer Connelly told ABC News Friday: "At an Unleash the Power Within seminar in Dallas, seven thousand attendees successfully participated in a fire walk which has been a celebrated part of this event for 35 years. It is always the goal to have no guests with any discomfort afterwards but it’s not uncommon to have fewer than 1% of participants experience 'hot spots' which is similar to a sunburn which can be treated with aloe. As always there were trained medical and event staff at the fire walk specifically to offer quick and easy remedies for any soreness.

"Someone unfamiliar with the process of the fire walk called 911 reporting the need for emergency services vehicles to be dispatched. While there was no need for emergency personnel we are grateful to the quick and robust response from Dallas emergency services, only 5 of 7,000 participants requested any examination beyond what was readily available on site. We are pleased to have completed another successful fire walk for 7,000 guests and look forward to the remainder of an outstanding weekend with them."

Tad Schinke, a trainer at yesterday's event, told local ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV, "We always have a few people that have some discomfort afterwards and we do our best to take care of them."

Jacqueline Luxemberg, a participant, told WFAA-TV that many people took selfies and pictures while storming across the bed of hot coals. She speculated that that may have been why so many suffered burns.

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