Hurricane Maria:

Islands brace for ‘most destructive” hurricane in Puerto Rico history

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Latest from Joe Ruble

    Senator Bill Nelson joined members of the New Destiny Christian Church in offering a lunch and some hurricane relief supplies to residents of the Taylor Apartments on 15th Street. Several residents told News 96.5 WDBO that they had their power turned on two days ago, and took in friends and relatives who are still waiting for the lights to come back on. It lifted a lot of spirits. “It does. This lets us know that people really care. When we need help, people are there for you,” said one woman who also got a grocery bag of food from the ministry.    Apopka Mayor Joe Kilscheimer was also at the event and briefed Sen. Nelson on the recovery status in Orange County’s second-largest municipality. He said all the roads have been cleared and most residents have their power back, but some lift stations are still having issues. Residents are asked to curb their daily public water use.    
  • Think about this, an unlicensed contractor falls off a ladder while doing work at your work or home. You are liable. It’s one of the scenarios Orange County is painting to people who may give in to the temptation to spend less in paying someone else to make hurricane repairs on their property. Click here to learn more.
  • As announced, the last pre-hurricane flight from Orlando International Airport left at 5 p.m. today. Now airport officials and the airlines will begin securing items ahead of expected hurricane force winds on Sunday night and Monday morning from Irma. The airport announced that it would resume operations after an inspection of damage from the storm, but gave no specific timeline. Over 120 flights were canceled over Friday and Saturday, according to the airport.
  • Officials at the Emergency Operations Center announced today that they will not impose a curfew, but want residents to keep the roads clear during the hurricane. However, when prevailing winds are stronger than 45 miles per hour, first responders will not be allowed to travel to assist the public. Six shelters are open: The pet-friendly shelters are:  • Harmony High School, 3601 Arthur J Gallagher Boulevard, St Cloud, FL 34771  • Kissimmee Middle School, 2410 Dyer Boulevard, Kissimmee, FL 34741  • Liberty High School, 4250 Pleasant Hill Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746   Three more shelters for the general public are also open:  • Celebration High School, 1809 Celebration Boulevard, Kissimmee, FL 34747  • Horizon Middle School, 2020 Ham Brown Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746  • Narcoossee Middle School, 2700 N. Narcoossee Road, St. Cloud, FL 34771 Sandbags can still be filled on Saturday until 6 p.m. or when all the sand is gone.  Road & Bridge Department 3850 Old Canoe Creek Road, St. Cloud, 34769  Road & Bridge Department 1698 S. Hoagland Boulevard, Kissimmee, 34741  Poinciana Library 101 N. Doverplum Avenue, Poinciana, 34758  Archie Gordon Memorial Park 420 Buenaventura Blvd., BVL, 34743  Kenansville Community Center 1178 S. Canoe Creek Road, Kenansville, 34739  Holopaw Community Center 8801 Community Center Road, Holopaw, 34773  Celebration Library 305 Campus Street, Celebration 34747
  • Orange County plans to open nine shelters at 9 a.m. Saturday, September 9. Here are the locations: Apopka High School Colonial High School East River High School Edgewater High School Memorial Middle School Odyssey Middle School West Orange High School Barnett Park Community Center *pet friendly Bithlo Community Center *pet friendly Persons with special medical needs should call 311 for information about shelter locations. Click here for more information from the county website
  • The YMCA of Central Florida is closing its doors today and will remain closed until after Hurricane Irma passes and it’s safe to reopen. Here is the list: • Cocoa YMCA, Suntree YMCA, Titusville YMCA and all program locations in Brevard County remain closed from Thursday, September 7.  • Lake Nona YMCA location in Orange County will close Friday, September 8 at 5 p.m.  • Dr. P. Phillips YMCA, Downtown Orlando YMCA, Roper YMCA, Winter Park YMCA, Aquatic Center YMCA, Wayne Densch YMCA, Blanchard Park YMCA, Avalon Park YMCA, South Orlando YMCA and Tangelo Park YMCA locations in Orange County will close on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.  • YMCA Lake Buena Vista Child Development Center in Orange County will close on Friday, September 8 at 11 p.m.  • YMCA Sherberth Child Development Center in Osceola County will close on Friday, September 8 at 8 p.m.  • Oviedo YMCA and J. Douglas Williams YMCA locations in Seminole County will close on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.  • Frank DeLuca YMCA in Marion County will close on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.  • Osceola County YMCA in Osceola County will close on Friday, September 8 at 7p.m.  • Golden Triangle YMCA in Lake County will close on Friday, September 8 at 7p.m.  • All remaining YMCA Family Center locations and services in Central Florida will close on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m.  • All YMCA of Central Florida youth program activities remain closed from Thursday, September 7. Click here to reach their website
  • The city is closing the boat ramp at Dinky Dock Park and all canals in the Winter Park Chain of Lakes at 3 p.m. on Friday, to prevent anyone from being on the water during the hurricane. The city ran out of sandbags earlier this week and is directing residents to seek out sandbags at nearby Orange County locations. Trash collection is normal on Friday, but canceled for next Monday. All city parks, the golf course and recreational facilities will be closed at 6 p.m. Saturday. Since Winter Park has a municipal utility, its crews will be out after the storm repairing any outages. They will not be out, if winds exceed 35 mph, according to city leaders. Click here to reach the city website.
  • The owners of Quantum Leap Trampoline Sports Arena are sympathetic to the needs of hurricane evacuaees who are finding many hotels booked for the next several days, so they are offering their facility as a place to rest. Click here to reach their Facebook page and learn how to make a reservation. “We have 71 trampolines in our building and at night no one is using them,” explained co-owner Leah Bolton. Since they have hosted trampoline slumber parties, “We just can’t sit by and see them empty at night when we know that people don’t have a place to put their head.” “I know there’s no hotel rooms all the way up through Georgia,” she said.  
  • Hurricane Hunter aircraft from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are flying into Irma to check on its status and strength. The first flight was posted to NOAA’s Facebook page. Click here to see it. The aircraft, a specially equipped C-130, was on display in Orlando before the start of this hurricane season.
  • Fire Station 67 on University Boulevard will be servicing the University of Central Florida and fast growing east Orange County soon. Ground was broken Friday morning for the $6.4 million project which should be open next spring. Fire Station 67 is a flagship project of Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ INVEST in our Home for Life initiative. Through INVEST, Orange County Fire Rescue will receive $30 million over the next five years for the following, according to OCFR:  • $18 million for three new fire stations;  • $7 million for new fire apparatus and equipment; and  • $5 million allocation as partial funding for a regional fire training facility.
  • Joe Ruble

    Joe Ruble is a veteran radio reporter, afternoon anchor and baseball fan.

    He claims to have been to every spring training site in Florida over the last ten years. "Steinbrenner Field in Tampa is one of my favorites," he said.

    Before landing in Orlando a year after the hurricanes did, Joe reported for Newsradio 740 KTRH in Houston for 15 years. He also covered news in Denver at KOA and was a news director for KYGO AM-FM. He is now a Broncos fan after watching John Elway from the press box at Mile High Stadium for two seasons. 

    Joe was raised in Hawaii and began his reporting career there while still a student at the University of Hawaii. He has earned awards for his reporting from natural disasters like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Not wanting to press his luck, he stayed away from high surf.  

    Joe has interviewed former presidents, professional athletes and music legends over the years. Most memorable chat? "Stevie Wonder, he joined me live on the radio in Hilo one night. He was touring and writing music for an album. I played his records while he sat on the other side of the turntable talking about his songs. Unforgettable."

    Ruble is married, raising two pups and living in Ocoee, Fla.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  •  A teenager is dead and police are searching for a suspect.   Sanford police say a 16 year old boy was fatally stabbed at Stonebrook Apartments in Sanford,  Tuesday afternoon. The victim was found in a car outside a building at the complex and police say he was not a resident of the apartment complex.  Police are searching for someone named Joshua, possibly driving a orange 2 door car in connection with the fatal stabbing. This is a developing story, no other information was avaialble.
  • Two employees of the transit system at Auburn University have been accused of raping an 18-year-old student on one of the buses Friday night.  Tony Martin Patillo, 51, of Columbus, Georgia, and James Don Johnson Jr., 32, of Auburn, are each charged with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy, according to Lee County Jail records. Patillo is also charged with four counts of public lewdness.  The Opelika-Auburn News reported that the lewdness charges stem from an incident just before midnight on Friday in which witnesses spotted a man exposing himself while standing over a woman on the ground. Patillo was arrested when responding officers found him nearby. Detectives conducting additional investigation into the incident learned that Patillo had allegedly sexually assaulted the woman, who appeared to be incapacitated, while on the bus, the News reported. The woman, who was no longer present when Patillo was arrested, was identified and tracked down by police officers, whom she told about the alleged rape. According to investigators, Johnson drove the bus and “engaged in actions to perpetuate the crime while Patillo was in the rear of the bus, assaulting the victim,” the News reported.  Patillo exited the bus with the woman in the area where the passersby spotted him exposing himself a few minutes later, police officials said.  The Auburn Plainsman, the university’s student newspaper, reported that the alleged assault took place on a Tiger Ten bus that runs from the downtown area to multiple apartment complexes and student housing areas off-campus. The late-night buses are specifically designed to give students a safe ride home.  “Our top concern is the well-being of the victim, and we cannot stress in strong enough terms our shock and distress over this despicable act,” officials with Auburn’s Department of Campus Safety and Security said in a statement. “We immediately provided support and all available resources to the victim and continue to do so.” >> Read more trending news The Plainsman reported that the university operates campus security shuttles to take students to on-campus locations late at night. Tiger Transit and Tiger Ten buses are operated by outside contractor First Transit. First Transit is required in its contract with Auburn University to perform background checks on all of its drivers, the campus newspaper said. Company officials told the Plainsman it is performing its own internal investigation of the alleged assault.  “At First Transit, we are greatly troubled by the events of Friday night,” officials said in a statement. “The safe and reliable transportation of our passengers is our highest priority. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.” Both Patillo and Johnson were immediately removed from service and First Transit has begun termination proceedings, the statement read. Company officials said they are working with campus and city police in the investigation.  Auburn University is re-evaluating its contract with First Transit, the Plainsman reported.  Patillo was being held in the Lee County Jail in lieu of $127,000 bail, the News reported. Johnson was being held in lieu of $125,000 bail. 
  • Duke Energy and FPL will have two ways to pass on the storm recovery costs to its customers.   9 Investigates reporter Daralene Jones has been digging into this issue for two days and learned not only can the utility companies tack on a storm recovery surcharge, they can also sell bonds that the customers would be forced to pay for.   Read: Help after Hurricane Irma   The Florida Legislature approved the measure in 2005.   Duke has not issued bonds and has no current surcharges for storm costs. However, FPL customers are paying for bonds and a surcharge, which equals an extra $5 a month on a customer’s utility bill.   Duke and FPL customers will likely be paying another surcharge for Irma. Both will be allowed to petition the Public Service Commission for a surcharge to pay for the repairs following the hurricane.   >>> Read more Hurricane Irma stories <<<   That money would typically come from the utilities storm recovery fund, but records 9 Investigates obtained show Duke had only $60 million on hand before Irma.   FPL was in the red with $203 million because it wiped out $93 million after Hurricane Matthew, last year.   FPL filed a petition for a surcharge that shows costs related to Hurricane Matthew reached $318 million. The latest earnings reports show Duke Energy earned $686 million in the second quarter of this year while FPL earned $526 million. Both are increases of about 100 million from the same time last year.   >>> Download the free WFTV weather app <<<   Both utilities are in the early stages of hardening its systems against hurricanes, even though the Public Service Commission demanded changes in 2006.   Some state lawmakers said they’re committed to push harder through legislative action.   “Look at the past history of the rate cases that have been granted and what they've been doing with that money. Each storm recovery surcharge typically lasts about a year, but can be renewed,” said Rep. Jason Brodeur, (R) from Seminole County.   The bonds issued are long term. FP&L customers have been paying off the 2006 bond for 11 years and it will stay on the customer’s bill until 2019.   Public utilities like OUC and KUA are eligible to apply for storm recovery costs from FEMA.   A Duke Energy representative apologized Tuesday morning to the 37,000 customers who are still without power.   Duke had originally said it would have power restored Sunday at midnight.
  • Orange County is setting a timeline for debris clean-up from Hurricane Irma. According to county government spokeswoman Doreen Overstreet, Public Works set an “eight week timeline for substantial cleanup.” “We have met with our contractors and are working to meet this deadline,” Overstreet said.  “Citizens should move vegetative debris to the curb now.  Please do not block, gutters, inlets, fire hydrants and sidewalks.” Overstreet says the county estaimtes about 1.3 million cubic yards of debris still needs to be picked up. That’s comparable with the City of Miami, which estimated one million cubic yards still remains.  Miami-Dade County reportedly has triple that amount and set a clean-up deadline for four to six months.
  • Anyone in Central Florida who needs information on obtaining Hurricane Irma recovery assistance from FEMA is invited to a free workshop on Thursday. Orlando Democratic Congressman Darren Soto says it’s a “bi-partisan” workshop where FEMA representatives will go over benefits and help people with applications directly. “If you want to sit down with a FEMA representative and have them walk you through the application process, this would be a good opportunity for you,” Soto says. You can also apply for FEMA assistance at FEMA.gov.  All Central Florida counties were given the FEMA designation of individual assistance, so all constituents are eligible for potential FEMA relief. The workshop is at Polk State College’s Advanced Technology Center at 310 Technology Drive in Bartow, Florida from 3 to 5 p.m. (Tweet)