Category: Syndicated

Governor Signs Ag Proclamation, Supports Equality in Military Service

IOWA  --  Governor Kim Reynolds showed appreciation for agricultural entrepreneurs on Monday morning.

She signed the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Week Proclamation, which is meant to show an appreciation for the impact agricultural entrepreneurs add to the state and Iowa's legacy in helping create world changing technologies, products, and services.

Following Monday morning's signing, reporters asked the governor about her position on President Trump's transgender military ban. Governor Reynolds said anyone willing to serve in the military deserves the nation's respect.

"So less than 1% of Americans today sign up to serve and to defend those liberties and freedoms. And I think that anybody that signs up to serve our country and defend those liberties and freedoms deserves our utmost appreciation and respect," she said.

The governor said she and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst are both in agreement on the issue.

‘Texas has never seen an event like’ Harvey, FEMA Chief Says

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Swollen rivers in east Texas aren’t expected to crest until later this week, but federal officials are already predicting Tropical Storm Harvey will drive 30,000 people into shelters and spur 450,000 victims to seek some sort of disaster assistance.

And yet, forecasters say, more rain is coming. Lots more.

Several locales have already received 2 feet or more of rain, and forecasters say a reprieve won’t arrive till week’s end at the earliest. By then, rain totals could reach another 2 feet — with isolated instances of 40 to 50 more inches — along the upper Texas coast.

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“This is a landmark event for Texas,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. “Texas has never seen an event like this.”

But, Long warned, Harvey presents a dynamic situation, and “every number we put out right now is going to change in 30 minutes.”

Harvey will likely surpass 2008’s Hurricane Ike and 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison, two of the most destructive storms to hit the Gulf Coast in recent memory, he said. Around 13 million people from Corpus Christi to New Orleans were under flood watches and warnings as of Monday morning as Harvey’s storm bands repeatedly pummel the same areas.

Keep track of Harvey

Early Monday, Harvey was just barely clinging to tropical storm status, but the danger is far from over. The storm is forecast to head southeast toward the Matagorda Bay and Gulf of Mexico where it will pick up additional moisture before sliding back over Galveston and Houston, cities it’s already hammered.

Even when the rain is gone, dangers will persist, said National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini, because “the flooding will be very slow to recede.”

Here are the latest developments:

— The average annual rainfall in Houston is 50 inches. The city has seen 25 inches of rain in two days. Another 25 could fall by Saturday.

— Several cities, including Alvin, Friendswood, League City, Pasadena, Pearland, Seabrook and Webster, have issued 11 p.m. curfews.

— A mandatory evacuation order was issued for areas along the Brazos River in Fort Bend County.

— Dallas is opening a “mega-shelter” capable of accommodating 5,000 evacuees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center by Tuesday morning.

— The Houston Independent School District has canceled school for the week for the district’s 215,000 kids.

— President Donald Trump will travel to Texas on Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are scheduled to tour the coastal bend region Monday.

— Energy provider CenterPoint says 96% of its Houston customers have power, but more than 93,000 are without electricity as the company’s crews experience difficulty reaching the affected areas.

— The storm killed two people in Texas — a woman in Houston and a man in Rockport — authorities said, and the death toll will likely rise.

Finding a ‘new normal’

Flooding continued in and around Houston on Sunday as citizens with boats assisted authorities in search and rescue efforts on roads that have turned into rivers.

A CNN crew was with one such volunteer when he used his vessel to rescue an elderly couple, their daughter and two dogs in Dickinson, Texas.

“It was shocking,” daughter Pam Jones said of the floodwaters. “It just creeped up.”

At Monday’s press conference, Long encouraged more citizens to come forward, saying the rescue and recovery efforts would require community involvement. He said the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website would direct folks to religious and nongovernmental agencies through which residents can help out.

Nursing home residents rescued

“It’s going to require the citizens getting involved,” said Long, who was headed to Corpus Christi. “Donate your money. Figure out how you can get involved as we help Texas find a new normal.”

The victims so far span at least 30 counties, the FEMA chief said, and that number may be as high as 50 counties.

1,000s of rescues

One victim, Aaron Mitchell of Aransas Pass, appeared shell-shocked as he recounted riding out the storm in his mobile home, which he said “felt like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ man.” He had walked 12 miles to find his father in Rockport, to no avail. Left without cell service for days, he hadn’t been able to touch base with his mother in Oklahoma, either.

Though he has no intention of abandoning the place he calls home, he was second-guessing his decision not to evacuate, he said.

Why didn’t Houston evacuate?

“I just lost everything I worked for. Everything,” he told CNN. “I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve left.”

(Following his interview, Mitchell was able to reach his father via telephone and, in tears, told him, “OK, dad, I’m going to jump on a bus. I’ll be there.”)

Houston resident Louise Walker also chose to brave Harvey’s wrath, leaving her trapped in a neighbor’s apartment, watching as authorities prioritized rescues based on who was in the most immediate danger.

Recovery could take years

“Our bottom level is waist-deep in water,” she said. “We have people who are living in these first-floor apartments, like I have. They have been breaking into empty second-level apartments just to have somewhere to go because we can’t get out. We’re simply completely surrounded with water,” she said.

State, local and military rescue units have plucked thousands of stranded residents from the water and from deluged homes. That includes well more than 1,000 victims in Houston and between 800 and 1,200 in Galveston County, officials said.

The US Coast Guard has contributed 19 helicopters to the effort, Capt. Kevin Odditt said. Gov. Abbott late Sunday called in an additional National Guard troops to bolster the force of 3,000 he initially mobilized, he tweeted.

Dam releases

The US Army Corps of Engineers began the controlled release of water from the Addicks and Barker dams in west Houston early Monday, said Jeff Linder, Harris County flood control district meteorologist

This is ahead of schedule because the water levels at the dam began to rise quickly, Linder says.

Harvey’s impact by the numbers

“Residents adjacent to the reservoirs need to be vigilant because the water in the reservoirs is rising rapidly,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, Galveston District commander. “Both reservoirs are rising more than half a foot per hour.”

In Conroe, an hour’s drive north of Houston, record levels of water are also being released from Lake Conroe Dam and flooding is imminent in some areas. The city will be evacuating some neighborhoods as a result,

“Public safety officials have been overwhelmed by the number of calls and are currently prioritizing calls as they come in,” the city said in a statement.

Cities, counties struggling

In Fort Bend County, a voluntary evacuation order was made mandatory for areas along the Brazos River, with the National Weather Service predicting river levels of 56.1 feet — nearly two feet above the record during flooding last year.

“Harvey continues to batter Fort Bend County,” said County Judge Robert Hebert. “Residents who flooded last year know how serious this situation is.”

In Brazoria County, south of Houston, officials set up an evacuation route for its more at-risk residents, ordering them to “LEAVE NOW!” under a mandatory evacuation order. Those in need of shelter can take refuge in the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, officials said.

Stuck in the floods? Here’s what to do

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned Sunday night that some 911 calls are going unanswered as operators “give preference to life-threatening calls.”

The 911 dispatchers in the nation’s fourth-most populous city had received 2,000 requests for rescue, Turner said. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said his department had responded to 2,500 calls and have about 1,000 more waiting to be serviced.

As Abbott equated driving into the state’s high waters with “taking your life into your own hands,” officials reported that many thoroughfares throughout eastern Texas were submerged and unnavigable. Among them were portions of interstates 10, 45 and 610 in Houston.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he understands the compulsion to find safer ground, but urged people to think twice before venturing out into high water and to consider unforeseen dangers, such as manhole covers being lifted from their holes.

With neighboring Louisiana in Harvey’s sights this week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards wrote to Trump on Sunday requesting that he issue a disaster declaration for the state. Search and rescue initiatives and shelter accommodations will be especially important in Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion parishes, the governor wrote.

Trump approved the emergency declaration Monday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Addicks and Barker dams are in Galveston. They are in west Houston.

Reporter Shares Photo of Dogs Left Behind as Family Flees Flood

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DICKINSON, Texas — It is a heartbreaking picture that shows the devastation caused by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

CNN reporter Ed Lavandera shared a picture that shows two dogs sitting in a boat in Dickinson, Texas.

The dogs apparently had to be left behind when their owners had to evacuate due to flooding caused by heavy rains from Harvey.

In a comment on his Instagram post, Lavandera provided an update. “I should add, I think the people have every intention of coming back to get the dogs. Food was left behind and I suspect it had to be a tough choice and that they will come back for them as soon as they can.”

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Houston Inundated by Water as Harvey Pummels Texas

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Around 13 million people are under flood watches and warnings stretching from Corpus Christi to New Orleans as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey menace drenched Texas and Louisiana.

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding” continues in southeastern Texas, where bands of storm have been repeatedly pummeling the same areas.

Over the next few days, Tropical Storm Harvey is forecast to head back into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will pick up moisture before moving back over Galveston and into Houston again, CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis says, meaning at least four more days of rain.

The National Weather Service (NWS) warns that flash flood emergencies are in effect for some areas and the rain — which can be measured by feet rather than inches — is not letting up.

It says that up to 25 inches of rain (2 feet) could fall through Friday over the upper Texas coast, while “isolated storm totals may reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast, including the Houston Galveston metropolitan area.”

Latest developments

— Over two days, Houston got 25 inches of rain — more than half of its annual rainfall.

— 11 p.m curfews were introduced Sunday in the City of Alvin, City of Friendswood, League City, City of Pasadena, City of Pearland, City of Seabrook and City of Webster.

— A mandatory evacuation order was issued for areas along the Brazos River in Fort Bend County.

— Several states and the US military are sending emergency workers and equipment to Texas.

— Dallas is opening a “mega-shelter” capable of accommodating 5,000 evacuees at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center by Tuesday morning.

— The Houston Independent School District has canceled school for the week.

— President Donald Trump will travel to Texas on Tuesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

— 316,000 customers had lost electricity across the state.

Follow live updates

Houston volunteers

Flooding continued in and around Houston on Sunday night as citizens with boats assisted authorities in search and rescue efforts on roads turned rivers.

A CNN crew was with one such volunteer when he used his vessel to rescue an elderly couple, their daughter and two dogs in Dickinson, Texas.

The family became trapped upstairs when flood waters came through the garage, filling the house with about three feet of water.

“It was shocking,” Pam Jones said. “It just creeped up.”

Houston resident Louise Walker told CNN she was trapped in her neighbor’s apartment.

“Our bottom level is waist-deep in water. We have helicopters that are flying over us rescuing people, we have people who are living in these first-floor apartments like I have. They have been breaking into empty second level apartments just to have somewhere to go because we can’t get out. We’re simply completely surrounded with water,” she said, adding that the helicopters were only rescuing people who were in immediate danger.

“My only plan at this point is to stay out of the water. I’ve been keeping in contact with family and friends, but other than that we can’t do anything. We are literally stuck here,” Walker said.

Officials say they have executed over 250 water rescues and rescued over 1,000 people from floods. The US Coast Guard’s Captain Kevin Odditt says 19 Coast Guard helicopters are also involved in relief efforts.

As of Sunday evening, between 800 and 1,200 people had been rescued from their homes in Galveston County, County Judge Mark Henry said.

One thousand additional National Guard members are being called in to help Houston flood victims affected by flooding, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced via Twitter Sunday evening.

The governor is expected to tour the Texas Coastal Bend region Monday with Senator John Cornyn.

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Dam releases

The US Army Corps of Engineers began the controlled release of water from the Addicks and Barker Dams in Galveston early Monday, after water levels began rising quickly, according to Harris County Flood Control District Meteorologist Jeff Linder.

This is ahead of schedule because the water levels at the dam began to rise quickly, Linder says. The engineers are expecting spillways and roads in the area to be impacted, according to a release from the agency.

“Residents adjacent to the reservoirs need to be vigilant because the water in the reservoirs is rising rapidly,” said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, Galveston District commander. “Both reservoirs are rising more than half a foot per hour.”

The City of Conroe says record levels of water are also being released from Lake Conroe Dam and flooding is imminent in some areas.

“The City of Conroe will be evacuating McDade Estates. Other neighborhoods will be evacuated by the County,” it said.” Public Safety Officials have been overwhelmed by the number of calls and are currently prioritizing calls as they come in.”

Evacuation orders

The rainfall threatens to exacerbate an already dangerous situation, as Harvey’s rains have left many east Texas rivers and bayous swollen to their banks or beyond.

Harrowing tales from Houston

“The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before,” the NWS said. “Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days.”

In Fort Bend County, a voluntary evacuation order was made mandatory for areas along the Brazos River, with the NWS predicting river levels of 56.1 feet — nearly two feet above the record during flooding last year.

“Harvey continues to batter Fort Bend County,” said County Judge Robert Hebert. “Residents who flooded last year know how serious this situation is.”

Fort Bend had worked with the Red Cross to establish shelters for residents, Herbert said.

Stuck in the Texas floods? Here’s what to do

911 overwhelmed

The storm killed two people in Texas, authorities said, and the death toll will likely rise. A woman who drove her vehicle into high water in Houston was killed, and fire killed a man in Rockport.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned that some 911 calls are going unanswered as operators “give preference to life-threatening calls.”

The 911 dispatchers in the nation’s fourth-most populous city have received 2,000 requests for rescue, Mayor Turner said. Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said his department had responded to 2,500 calls and have about 1,000 more waiting to be serviced.

People are also taking to social media to announce their locations and ask for help.

How social media is helping

Many roads impassable

In a Sunday news conference, Gov. Abbott said, “We want to stress when there is heavy rainfall and flooding, the importance of staying off the road. If you drive into water, you’re taking your life into your own hands.”

Portions of major highways, including Interstates 10, 45 and 610, were submerged and unnavigable. Houston resident Dion Laurent said the White Oak Bayou flooded I-10 and I-45.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he understands the compulsion to find safer ground, but urged people to think twice before venturing out into high water and to consider unforeseen dangers, such as manhole covers being lifted from their holes.

In Brazoria County, south of Houston, officials set up an evacuation route for all residents living west of State Highway 288 and south of State Highway 6, ordering them to “LEAVE NOW!” under a mandatory evacuation order. Those in need of shelter can take refuge in the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, officials said.

Louisiana in Harvey’s sights

Meantime, Louisiana Gov John Bel Edwards wrote to President Trump requesting that he declare an Emergency Disaster for the state.

“The National Weather Service forecasts that remnants of Hurricane Harvey will bring heavy rainfall to Louisiana posing serious danger to life and property of the citizens of our state. Significant lifesaving efforts such as search and rescue, transportation to shelters, logistical support, and shelter operations are particularly needed in Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermillion parishes,” Edwards wrote. The NWS predicted 10 to 20 inches of rain between Sunday night and Monday, he said, with “major river flooding” anticipated.

Harvey blasted ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday night, making landfall just north of Corpus Christi before quickly being downgraded to a tropical storm.

Keep track of Harvey

“What is unique in Harvey is that as the storm moved inland, a large high pressure built in to the north and, basically, the steering currents, which guide Harvey, collapsed,” said CNN senior meterologist Dave Hennen. “This has caused the extremely slow movement of the storm, moving only around 60 miles, less than 2 miles per hour. This has allowed the bands of storms to move over the same areas over and over.”

Senator Visits Iowa Coop

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is touring through the 99 counties of Iowa and made a stop at Two Rivers Cooperative in Monroe.

At a roundtable discussion, many questions were asked about regulation such as OSHA's role in the Trump Administration, the Waters of the U.S. rule, or how much grain weight a truck can have before going on the federal interstates.

Another point made by co-op representatives were the little rules, like mandates to have a safety gate on top of grain bin ladders. That rule cost the co-op $25,000 to comply

Ernst says,  "That's a lot of dollars that are then passed onto the members of that coop. So what we have to figure out is that cost. What is that associated with or attributed to? Is it worth the additional expense? We have to evaluate that. Sometimes the government goes way too far and the benefit doesn't necessarily equal the cost."

The farm bill is another big topic for farmers, Ernst is optimistic, "I think this is something that we have to get done and as we look ahead in the next several months. The intent is to really work very hard, diligently on this package. Have it to the floor of the Senate by Christmas."

The Insiders: August 27th Edition, Who is to Blame for Violent Protests, Displays of Racism?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  People had a lot to say on social media following the recent violence in Charlottesville, and it appears as if blame is being directed to multiple places.

Dave Price discusses what he saw as reactions to the protests and considers what may or may not be effective ways to fight racism, as well as whether blame for the violence should be placed on various levels.

The Insiders: August 27th Edition, What’s the Status of Race Relations in Iowa?

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Race has been a widely-discussed topic since the violent Charlottesville protests, and Political Director Dave Price talks to Iowans about their views on race relations in Iowa and across the country.

Des Moines resident Brenda Moore thinks the issue is becoming more prominent in the United States, but Izaah Knox--the executive director of the nonprofit group Urban Dreams--thinks having open and honest conversations can help combat the problem.

The Insiders: August 27th Edition, Iowans’ Political Reactions and Politicians’ Strategies

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Last week, Political Director Dave Price issued a challenge to Republican politicians in Iowa, asking them to come onto the show and talk about President Trump's response to the violent protests in Charlottesville. While they didn't take him up on the offer, some Iowans had pretty strong opinions about the request.

Doug Gross--a frequent Insiders contributor over the years, former Chief of Staff to Governor Terry Branstad, former Republican nominee for governor, and former advisor to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign--also joined Dave in the studio to discuss the president's strategy and other Republicans' roles.