Entries in Recovery (9)


Oklahoma Starts Recovery in Aftermath of Tornadoes

ABC News(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- Officials are stepping up cleanup efforts on Sunday in Oklahoma after a number of communities were hit by deadly tornadoes in the last two weeks as the death toll from Friday's storms increased to 11.

Among the fatalities from the deadly twisters was well-known meteorologist and storm chaser Tim Samaras, according to family members.

Samaras, who founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumented Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment) and appeared on the show Storm Chasers, dedicated three decades of his life to studying tornadoes.

"Out of all storm chasers he doesn't take chances, he's the one that puts the probes in the path of the tornado to learn more about them. He is not, you know, a young gun running around making bad decisions person so I am so sad and shocked, it is such a loss for the community," ABC News weather anchor Ginger Zee said of Samaras.

Samaras' son Paul and along with storm chase partner Carl Young were also killed in Friday's storms.

Heavy rains flooded the same roads packed with debris after a number of twisters criss-crossed traffic-packed highways outside of Oklahoma City during rush hour Friday night.

That same storm system heads east, bringing hail, damaging winds, and flooding.

To aid recovery efforts, Oklahoma Gas and Electric has worked hard to get customers in the Oklahoma City back up and running. Friday night's tornadoes left tens of thousands without power. With approximately 48,000 in the dark in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area alone, questions loom as to how soon residents will have their lights back on.

"The flooding though that we've had has really hindered our access to get in and determine what kind of damage we have," Kathleen O'Shea of OG&E told ABC News.

But Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said that the storms could have been a lot worse for the Sooner State's capital.

"It could have been really, really bad," he told ABC News Saturday. "The fact that it did not come down out of the sky and in retrospect, did not have the high winds as the May 20 storm, we're probably pretty fortunate."

Yet Cornett said he plans to review why the majority of the lives lost in the storm were people on the road trying to outrun the twisters.

"We don't need people in their cars during a high risk storm like that," he said. "[People] have tornado precautions in their mind, they just need to use them. They don't need to start getting in their cars and taking off."

"The worst place you can be in a tornado is in your car. You get in your car, almost anything can happen," said Cornett.

As Oklahoma continues to rebuild in from tornadoes' destruction in the Oklahoma City area and from the storms in Moore, officials acknowledge relief efforts will be trying both physically and emotionally for residents.

"We're still holding funerals for families that lost loved ones, families that lost kids in grade schools [in Moore]," said Cornett. "The emotional impact of May 20 remains with us. The physical aspect will take us time."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Superstorm Sandy: Death Toll Up to 50, But Some Steps Toward Recovery

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It blasted the ocean itself over dunes, seawalls and berms and into downtowns, tunnels and subways. It killed dozens of people, destroyed famed landmarks and amusement parks, pushed houses off their foundations and toppled trees. It virtually shut down New York City, the nation's largest city, with major airports, highways, bridges and tunnels in and out of Manhattan shut down, just as they were after 9/11.

For millions of people in New York City and elsewhere, the lights remain out, communications remain down and floodwaters, downed trees and power lines still make roads impassable.

However, some of the hardest-hit areas on the East Coast were beginning to take the first steps towards recovery. For instance, some New York bridges, tunnels, highways and airports reopened or were slated to be reopened by Wednesday morning.

So far, Sandy has been blamed for up to 50 fatalities, and has left more than eight million customers without power. The number of dead continued to rise by the hour a day after the storm made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., and rocked several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

"I just never thought I would see what I saw today -- ever," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. "It won't be same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean."

The power outages were spread over 17 states, from Virginia to Maine, and while the number of customers affected topped eight million, the number of people living without power would be several times that number. The number of power outages topped two million customers in New Jersey and half a million in New York City, and approached another million on New York's Long Island.

President Obama issued disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey so that federal aid will be offered to the affected areas to help supplement state and local clean-up efforts.

During a visit to the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon, Obama sent a very clear message to federal agencies.

"Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something," the president said. "I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible."

The president said mayors and governors who run into any trouble can call him directly at the White House. He praised the heroic efforts of rescuers and helpful community members, but emphasized that recovery is going to take some time.

"It is not going to be easy for a lot of these communities to recover swiftly, and so it is going to be important that we sustain that spirit of resilience, that we continue to be good neighbors for the duration until everybody is back on their feet," Obama said.

Among the hardest hit were New Jersey and New York, where public transportation was shut down, millions lost power and storm surges swamped cars, homes, businesses and boardwalks.

But in the wake of the devastation, states are beginning to make moves toward comebacks.

In New York, the New York Stock Exchange is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after being closed for an unprecedented two days. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was scheduled to ring the opening bell.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the area's airports and bridges, said it plans to have two major airports -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey -- open Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. with limited service. However, LaGuardia Airport in New York City will remain closed amid flooding on the tarmac and other damage.

Public transportation in the city also screeched to a halt as the subway system, rail yards and bus depots were flooded in what officials called the biggest disaster of its 108 years in existence.

"The New York City subway system ... has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement.

All bridges into Manhattan were reopened Tuesday and limited bus service was to resume Tuesday evening -- though the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel remained submerged beneath floods. The Holland Tunnel also remained closed though the Lincoln Tunnel was reopened early Tuesday.

Officials hoped to have power restored to New York in two to three days and aim to have the subways running in three to four days, Bloomberg said.

It will take about a week for PATH trains between New Jersey and New York to resume service.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday.

Obama will visit ravaged New Jersey on Wednesday, where search and rescue missions have become a priority.

A berm in Bergen County, N.J., was breached Tuesday morning, resulting in four to five feet of water flowing into three towns and endangering as many as 2,000 people, said Jeanne Beratta, spokeswoman for the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management.

"We're doing rescues by boat. We're doing rescues with large trucks. We're doing rescues all over those areas," Baratta told Good Morning America.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the state "kind of took it in the neck worse than any other place," but praised Obama and his administration for how it has handled the crisis.

"[President Obama] called me last night around midnight to ask what else can be done," Christie told GMA. "I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this."

Other parts of the country were struggling with snow and blizzard conditions. West Virginia was under a blizzard warning and more than two feet of snow was reported in some parts of the states. More than 100,000 customers are without power.

Sandy also brought winter conditions from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, and into Ohio.

The former hurricane had joined forces with a cold front coming from the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland to dump snow on eight states. Davis, West Virginia has been blanketed with 17 inches of snow, which continued to fall into the early morning.

By Thursday, meteorologists predict up to three feet of snow was possible in higher elevations.

New York University Medical Center was among the millions left without power in the wake of Sandy. A full evacuation was under way after the hospital's back-up generators had failed.

Early Tuesday morning, approximately 200 patients had been evacuated by private ambulance with assistance from the FDNY.

John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison, said it was too soon to say when power could be restored and that inspectors would be out once it was daylight to assess the damage.

Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm shortly before it made landfall at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City, N.J., on Monday.

By late Tuesday evening, Sandy remained a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Though it was weakening over Pennsylvania, it churned up the waters of the Great Lakes, prompting gale warnings and small craft advisories in some locations, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states remained under flash flood watches and warnings.

"Sandy is expected to turn north across Western New York or Lake Erie ... and continue to move northward into Canada on Wednesday," the National Weather Service said in it's 11 p.m. ET briefing Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fundraiser Held for Model Recovering from Propeller Accident

ABC News(PLANO, Texas) -- Friends and community members came out for a fundraiser Tuesday night to assist model and fashion editor Lauren Scruggs with her medial bills after an accident with a plane propeller sliced off her hand and left her face disfigured.

The event, which took place at Sambucco 360 in Plano, Texas, featured a silent auction where local businesses donated gifts including a pearl necklace and earrings, while a local restaurant donated a cocktail party for 12.

"Tonight is about celebrating -- it is about celebrating that Lauren Scruggs is going to come back 10 times stronger than she was before this accident," LeeAnne Locken, the night's emcee, told the crowd gathered on Tuesday.

Scruggs was badly injured on Dec. 3 when she walked into a moving plane propeller that sliced through her face, shoulder and left hand.  She had just gotten off of the plane where she was viewing Christmas lights from above with a friend.

The communications graduate, who worked on the set of the hit TV series Gossip Girl, has been in severe pain since the accident and on Dec. 15 doctors performed surgery to remove her left eye.  Through it all, Scruggs and her family have remained positive, as she makes strides in her recovery -- walking, biking, even picking out her clothes and dressing herself.

"I'm really here for them -- it's a difficult time for them -- Lauren's got a long road ahead in recovery -- they're just a genuine family," attendee Eric Krisher said Tuesday night.

"By the grace of God, Lauren is doing amazingly well.  It is truly a miracle to think of how far she has come in such a short amount of time," Janee Harrell, Scruggs' friend told ABC News.  "Her mind and her outlook and her spirit is amazing … her beauty is truly from within."

Scruggs is working hard on occupational therapy now, and her pain is getting better every day.  Her family continues to pray that it will keep improving, and they say she is looking for natural alternatives to the pain medication she is on now.

Tuesday night's fundraiser reportedly raised over $10,000 for Scruggs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Model Lauren Scruggs Rapidly Recovering from Propeller Accident

ABC News(DALLAS) -- Lauren Scruggs, the 23-year-old Texas woman who accidentally walked into an airplane propeller, is now not only walking her way through rehab, she is eating her favorite foods, picking out clothes to wear and even working out on an exercise bike following surgery to remove her left eye.

Scruggs, who was badly injured in the accident 17 days ago when a moving airplane propeller sliced through the left side of her face and shoulder and severed her left hand, is making a rapid recovery, according to her family.  She walked into the propeller after viewing Christmas lights above Dallas on Dec. 3.

The model and fashion blogger is freely walking around the Dallas hospital where she is recovering, showering and dressing herself and riding a stationary bike.

The young woman's steps forward after last week's surgery to remove her left eye are providing hope for her family, who told reporters shortly after the accident that they didn't think she'd survive the tragedy.

"She really shouldn't be alive, so we feel blessed in that and although she has some challenges ahead, we're lucky to have her," her mother Cheryl Scruggs said.

Both Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs remain optimistic about their daughter's recovery.  In a web posting entitled "Miracle After Miracle, " Cheryl Scruggs writes that Lauren is responding "stunningly" and that she "has a healthy appetite and is eating well."

"Lo," as her family and friends affectionately call her, had just landed with a girlfriend after viewing Christmas lights from above in a small prop plane piloted by a family friend.  The young communications graduate, who had started a fashion website called Lolo and had worked in the wardrobe department of the TV show Gossip Girl, is thought to have turned to say a final goodbye to the pilot when the accident occurred.

The Federal Aviation Administration continues to investigate the accident.  The pilot, Kurt Richmond of Frisco, Texas, has not answered repeated requests for an interview. ABC News has learned that the Scruggs family does not blame Richmond for the accident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lara Logan at Home after Assault in Egypt, Gets Call from President Obama

Photo Courtesy - The Gracies dot org(WASHINGTON) -- CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is resting at her Washington, D.C.-area home with her husband and two children after being sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square on the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, a close friend of Logan's said.

According to a White House aide, President Obama called Logan Wednesday afternoon. The White House did not provide details of the phone call, but Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that "violence against journalists was unacceptable, and that the perpetrators of violence needed to be held accountable."

Logan, 39, was released from the hospital Tuesday at about 5 p.m., the friend told ABC News.

Logan, CBS News' chief foreign affairs correspondent, was surrounded by "a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy" on Feb. 11, according to a CBS News statement.

In an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose before the attack, Logan said the Egyptian Army had labeled her and her crew spies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Giffords Taken Outside Hospital for First Time Since Shooting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Capt. Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said Thursday that the congresswoman soon will be "back at work" and predicted she would be walking around in a couple of weeks.

"I'm extremely hopeful that Gabby will make a full recovery. She is a fighter like nobody else I know," said Kelly.

In another sign of progress, Giffords was taken outside of the hospital Thursday for the first time since the attack to give her some sunlight. Just Wednesday, she stood up for the first time with assistance and looked out of a hospital window.

"I am extremely confident that she will be back here and back at work soon," said Kelly during a press conference Thursday. "I told the hospital staff to expect her to be walking around here in a couple of weeks. She'll be back."

Kelly also joked that he knows Giffords can't wait to write "thank you" notes to all of her supporters.

Giffords already has been able to scroll through an iPad, actions described Thursday by her doctors as "fantastic achievements forward."

Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to her head on Jan. 8 when Jared Loughner allegedly opened fire at an event held by the Democratic congresswoman outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz.

Since the shooting, Giffords has been treated at Tucson's University Medical Center. But she is scheduled to be moved to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital, which specializes in brain injuries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Stands on Both Feet, Looks Out Window

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stood on both feet with assistance and looked out a window Wednesday, another milestone in her recovery after a gunman fired a bullet through her brain during an attack in Tucson, Arizona 11 days ago, according to University Medical Center officials.

Giffords is expected to be transported Friday to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital, which specializes in brain injuries, her office said Wednesday. The exact day of the move could change, depending on Giffords' condition.

The institute, also known as TIRR Memorial Hermann, is part of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world. Giffords' office said in a statement that facilities across the country had been considered for her rehabilitation but TIRR was chosen because of its reputation and proximity to Tucson.

Her husband, astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, lives in Houston, where he trains at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

The congresswoman is the last of the shooting victims remaining at Tucson's University Medical Center, the hospital said Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tucson Doctors Hail Congresswoman Giffords' Continued Progress

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Doctors at Tucson’s University Medical Center said Thursday the prognosis for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from a bullet wound to the head continues to be encouraging.

Chief trauma specialist Dr. Peter Rhee said that Giffords, who was shot at close range last Saturday at a meet-and-greet event she hosted, “is doing some fairly specific things with her left hand.  She is yawning.  She is starting to rub her eyes.”  He added that movement in her right was only slight.

Dr. Michael Lemole, who heads the neurosurgery department, told reporters that Giffords is able to move both her legs on command.

Given that the bullet allegedly fired by accused 22-year-old gunman Jared Lee Loughner passed through the congresswoman’s brain front to back, Rhee and Lemole admitted that Giffords' recovery has thus far been remarkable.

There have been no major setbacks, such as increased brain swelling, since the Jan. 8 shootings that left six people dead and 14 wounded.  On Wednesday afternoon, the Democratic lawmaker opened her eyes for the first time since her surgery last Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords' Husband Keeps Vigil By Her Side

Photo Courtesy - Office of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is making a remarkably strong recovery, her doctors said Tuesday.  Despite the good news, however, a photo of her husband holding her hand while keeping an exhausted vigil by her side clearly showed the agony of the ordeal for her family.

Giffords' doctors were upbeat Tuesday on her chance of surviving the shot to her head on Saturday.

"She has a 101 percent chance of surviving," said trauma chief Dr. Peter Rhee said Tuesday. "She will not die. She does not have that permission from me."

While Giffords' breathing tube remained in place, her neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Lemole said she is breathing on her own for the first time since the shooting.

Doctors added that Giffords is also moving both arms. Two days ago they were delighted that she could raise two fingers and squeeze a hand.

The doctors corrected themselves on one aspect of the wound. They now believe she was shot in the forehead, with the bullet traveling the length of the left side of the brain and exiting the back. They originally believed she was shot in the back of the head and the bullet exited her forehead.

Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, has been by her side since shortly after she was shot on Saturday, allegedly by 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio