Informed and prepared. They're the two things you want to be if you’re in the path of a tropical storm or hurricane.
Some preparations for storms like Isaac, the tropical storm making its way toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, can begin (ideally) months ahead of time or within hours of its expected landfall.
But knowing how to react and whether to evacuate requires that you stay informed of the storm’s progress by tuning into local television and radio stations – preferably, with a battery-powered radio. You can buy a battery-powered NOAA radio that tunes in to special Weather Radio frequencies.
While the power is still on, people can find the most recent information on the storm's movement on the National Hurricane Center's Isaac advisory page. You can also get NHC updates on your mobile phone. Other useful apps can be found for iPhone at the App Store and for Android devices at the Google Play Store.
Some states keep general information about hurricane preparedness on their websites, including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Here's a state-by-state breakdown of Isaac's impacts. Many towns, counties and parishes keep information on their websites regarding the storm's progress, evacuation procedures, shelters and suspension of services. Some use Twitter and/or Facebook to post real-time updates. Below are just a few municipal websites that CNN.com has identified, though the list is not exhaustive:
Develop an evacuation plan tailored to your family’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. If the safest areas are not in your home, locate safe areas or buildings in your community and listen to local news for announcements on schools, shelters or designated safe areas. Determine an escape route from your home and places to meet in case family members become separated.
If your family hurricane plan includes immediate evacuation because of the location or conditions of your home, the National Hurricane Center recommends that you do not delay your departure. You may want to evacuate ahead of official orders to avoid travel delays or traffic congestion. Pick a location as close to your home as possible. If it’s a motel or hotel, make a reservation before you leave to ensure space. If you have a pet, this may be your best bet, as many shelters do not accept pets.
Before you leave, make sure you have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
Securing your home includes putting away anything surrounding the home that the wind can pick up: bicycles, lawn furniture and decorations and branches, to name a few. Seal all your windows and doors, and if you don’t have hurricane shutters, board up windows with plywood. Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure to reduce roof damage.
The National Hurricane Center has tips for preparing yourself and your home for a storm and coping with its aftermath, as well as assembling a plan and emergency kit.
Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed. Close off propane tanks.
Whether you ride out the storm in your home or evacuate, you’ll want to have a disaster supply kit at the ready that includes these items, according to the National Hurricane Center:
- Water: At least one gallon daily per person for three to seven days
- Food: At least enough for three to seven days nonperishable packaged or canned food and juices, snack foods.
- Eating supplies: Nonelectric can opener, cooking tools, disposable plates and utensils.
- Flashlights and extra batteries, radio
- Baby supplies: Bottle, formula, baby food, diapers.
- Toiletries: Hygiene items, moisture wipes, etc.
- Bedding: Blankets and pillows, etc.
- Clothing: Seasonal clothes, rain gear, sturdy shoes.
- First aid/medical: Pain relievers, bandages, splints, insect repellant, sunscreen, seven-day supply of prescription drugs, hearing aids with extra batteries, eyeglasses.
- Modern necessities: Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a telephone set with a cord, cash in small bills, extra sets of house and car keys,
- Important documents in a waterproof container: Passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
More tips can be found here.
[Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET] A suspect is in custody in connection with a shooting at a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, bar early Tuesday, Tuscaloosa police said on Twitter.
[Posted at 12:00 a.m. ET] Multiple people were shot early Tuesday at a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, bar, and a suspect remains at large, Police Chief Steve Anderson said at a news conference.
The suspect is a stocky white male, who is between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, the chief said. It appeared from surveillance video that he walked up to the bar, stood outside for a few minutes looking for someone, then began shooting a military-style assault rifle, Anderson said.
Tuscaloosa police Sgt. Brent Blankley told CNN 17 people were admitted to DCH hospital with injuries related to the shooting. Anderson could not confirm how many of those admitted were shot and how many were injured by shrapnel or flying objects. Of those hurt, he said, one was "extremely critical," and three others were in critical condition.FULL STORY
The University of Alabama's crystal prize for winning last season's college football championship had a pretty short shelf life – and somewhere, a player's parent is blushing crimson.
The roughly $30,000 Waterford crystal football that tops the trophy from the American Football Coaches Association fell and shattered on Saturday when the father of an Alabama player caught his foot on a rug where the trophy stood at Alabama's Mal Moore Athletic Facility, according to CNN affiliate WIAT and ESPN's Alex Scarborough.
The accident is said to have happened after the Crimson Tide's annual intrasquad spring game, which 78,526 fans watched Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
Scarborough's Twitter account has a picture of what he says is a tiny piece of the broken crystal prize, made in Ireland.
A sampling of Thursday's headlines from some CNN affiliates nationwide:
Students at a Jewish girls’ high school in New York have been ordered to delete their Facebook accounts in accordance with school policy, CNN affiliate WCBS-TV reported.
Juniors at the school who were found to have Facebook accounts were taken out of class and told to stop their accounts or face expulsion, according to WCBS. Students at the school sign contracts promising not to have the accounts; the school principal says having such an account violates religious expectations of modesty.
Editor's note: A devastating storm system moved across the United States on Friday, spawning a slew of tornadoes that contributed to at least 28 fatalities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Friday's storms come days after a separate tornado outbreak that left 13 dead across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee and battered parts of Kentucky as well.
[Updated at 11:41 p.m. ET] the death toll from Friday's storms has risen to at least 28, authorities say. The deaths were reported in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
[Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET] A second person has died in Clark County, Indiana, as a result of apparent tornadoes that swept through the area Friday, the county's emergency management director told CNN.
That brings the death toll for the state to five – two in Clark County and three in Jefferson County – according to state and county officials.
[Updated at 6:14 p.m. ET] At least four people have been killed in Indiana after powerful tornadoes swept through the state Friday, according to state and local officials. Three of the deaths are in Jefferson County and one is in Clark County.
[Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET] Between 40 to 50 homes in Hamilton County, Tennessee, have "significant damage that we know about," the county's Chief of Emergency Management Bill Tittle told CNN on Friday. He said that there are 24 reported injuries and, while none of those appear to be life-threatening, he acknowledged that "we have not reached all the homes."
[Updated at 3:01 p.m. ET] Trained weather spotters reported a tornado at 1:43 p.m. CT (2:43 p.m. ET) in Posey County, Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. It is the third tornado the weather agency has reported on Friday.
[Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET] Severe weather injured at least six people Friday and caused damage near Chattanooga, Tennessee, said Amy Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management.
[Updated at 11:44 a.m. ET] At least 17,000 customers were without power Friday near Huntsville, Alabama, amid reports of a tornado or tornadoes in the area, the Madison County Emergency Management Agency said. Huntsville is in Madison County, which is in far northern Alabama.
[Updated at 11:26 a.m. ET] The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for Madison County, Alabama, on Friday morning after saying a large and extremely dangerous tornado caused widespread damage near Meridianville, Alabama.
[Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET] At least one apparent tornado damaged or destroyed several homes Friday morning in Limestone County, Alabama, just west of Huntsville in far northern Alabama, said Cindy Adams of the Limestone County Sheriff's Office.
Touchdowns were reported in the communities of Tanner and East Limestone, she said. One apparent tornado touched down at least once before authorities could sound a warning siren, she said.
[Initial post, 10:55 a.m. ET] An apparent tornado touched down Friday morning near Huntsville, Alabama, authorities said. Officials have reports of houses damaged in Madison County, said Paige Colburn, an emergency management official.FULL STORY
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crashed Tuesday night in Mobile Bay in Alabama while on a training mission, the Coast Guard said.
Authorities rescued one passenger and were searching for three others, CNN affiliate WKRG reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court has given an Alabama death row prisoner another chance to appeal his conviction after a mailroom mistake initially left him unable to pursue further claims in court.
Cory Maples' case now goes back to lower courts.
Maples was convicted in the 1995 murder of two companions, Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II, with whom he had been drinking heavily. Court records showed that Maples took a .22-caliber rifle in his Decatur, Alabama, home and shot both men twice in the head, execution-style. He later confessed to police but offered no explanation for the crimes. The defendant was convicted, and the jury recommended the death sentence by a vote of 10-2.FULL STORY
Joran van der Sloot on Friday was sentenced to 28 years in a Peruvian prison for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores.
With credit for time served, his sentence would end on June 10, 2038.
He was also ordered to pay about $74,500 to the victim's family.
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old Dutch national confessed to the charges of "qualified murder" and simple robbery.
It was an apparent attempt to win a more lenient sentence, using a plea called an "anticipated conclusion of the process" under Peruvian law.
It’s not often that a newspaper can attack another state, pontificate on a hot-button national issue and deliver a targeted economic development pitch in one go.
That’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board did Tuesday with its open letter, “Hey, Mercedes, time to move to a more welcoming state.”
News surfaced this week that police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently pulled over a man because of a problem with a tag on his rental car. The man, who was German, didn’t have handy what the state considers proper identification, so he was arrested under a provision of Alabama’s immigration law, which is considered the strictest in the land.
Turns out, the man was Detlev Hager, a 46-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive traveling on business. About 10,000 people in the region rely on the company for their livelihood, according to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which happens to be the state’s largest exporter.
Hager – one of 66 people charged with not having proper identification since October 1 – had his charges dropped after an associate tendered Hager's passport and German driver’s license, the Tuscaloosa News reported.
Not before the Post-Dispatch took its shot, though.
College football's top-ranked LSU Tigers defeated the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide 9-6 in overtime Saturday night.
LSU won the coin toss in overtime, electing to start on defense. The Crimson Tide's offense sputtered in the extra session with two incomplete passes, a penalty for having 12 men in the huddle and a 5-yard sack.
Cade Foster, Alabama's placekicker, who had already missed three field goals earlier, missed another from 52 yards out.
After that, LSU marched down the field, nearly scoring a touchdown but running back Michael Ford stepped out of bounds.
LSU elected to attempt a field goal and Drew Alleman– who kicked two field goals earlier - hit the 25-yard game-winner.
The game, before a Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd in Tuscaloosa, mainly witnessed field goals and punts. Neither team scored a single touchdown.
The low score might be surprising, given that the teams totaled 45 points in 2010, 39 in 2009 and 48 in 2008.FULL STORY
A federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of parts of a controversial immigration enforcement law in Alabama.
The injunction issued Friday from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta came after the U.S. Justice Department - supported by a coalition of immigrant rights groups - requested the legislation, known as HB 56, be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions can be addressed, a process that could take some months at least.
The Obama administration argues the Constitution does not permit states to deter illegal immigration, saying an issue with foreign policy implications is the exclusive mandate of the federal government.
Alabama's law, passed by the legislature this summer, would allow state and local officials to check the immigration status of public school students; to detain suspected illegal aliens without bond; and make it a crime for immigrants who lack proper documents to conduct business with the state for things like driver's licenses.
Among selected provisions blocked from being enforced are:
– Section 10, requiring immigrants to carry an alien registration card;
– Section 28, allowing public school students to be questioned about their immigration status.
Among selected provisions Alabama will be allowed to enforce are:
– Section 30, blocking undocumented immigrants from entering into a "business transaction";
– Section 12, allowing local law enforcement to stop, detain or arrest upon reasonable suspicion anyone "unlawfully present" in the state
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights figure who helped lead efforts in Birmingham, Alabama, has died, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute said Wednesday.
Shuttlesworth is among the iconic figures honored in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. King once called Shuttlesworth "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South."
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama, Shuttlesworth rallied the membership of a group he established in May 1956 - the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights - and they challenged the practice of segregated busing in Birmingham.
Shuttlesworth also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with King and other civil rights leaders.FULL STORY
[5:47 p.m. ET] Former Tropical Storm Lee left at least four people dead as it crossed Southern states.
In Gwinnett County, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, firefighters said Tuesday they found the body of a man who drowned in a rain-swollen creek near Norcross. He was one of two men who were trying to walk across the creek Monday "when a sudden gush of rushing water swept them over into the middle of the creek," the Gwinnett Fire Department said.
The creek was estimated to be 8 to 10 feet deep near the spillway where the two were swept away. The first man held onto the second but eventually lost his grip. He was washed downstream as well but managed to escape the water.
In Baldwin County, Alabama, police said they no longer believe a missing 16-year-old boy is alive. The teen was last seen on a beach near Gulf Shores on Sunday, said sheriff's spokesman Maj. Anthony Lowery. Lowery said Tuesday hopes of him coming to shore have faded.
A flooding death was also reported in rural northeast Mississippi, where one person drowned after floodwaters swept away a vehicle in Tishomingo County, emergency officials said.
In addition, a woman died in Chattanooga, Tennessee, early Tuesday. A woman went outside about 12:30 a.m. to move her vehicle and was struck by a tree, said police Sgt. Jerri Weary. About 30,000 people in the area were without power as of Tuesday morning, Weary said, and several roads were closed because of flooding.
As of 5 p.m. ET, the center of what remained of former Tropical Storm Lee was located about 115 miles northwest of Atlanta and was nearly stationary, the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said Tuesday.
Winds of up to 30 mph may accompany the rain.
[Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET] More than 100 homes in north suburban Atlanta were damaged by heavy thunderstorms and possible tornadoes as the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee swept through the area Monday, authorities reported.
At least one person was rescued from the basement of a collapsed home near Woodstock, about 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta, Cherokee County Emergency Management Supervisor Robby Westbrook told CNN. He said sheriff's deputies counted more than 100 homes damaged in a roughly five-mile stretch around the town.
And Cherokee County Fire Department spokesman Tim Cavender said several trees were knocked down around Holly Springs, about five miles north of Woodstock. But there were no immediate reports of injuries, he said.
The National Weather Service issued a series of tornado warnings for the area starting around 2:30 p.m. Tornado sightings and radar indications were reported across the northwest Atlanta suburbs throughout the rest of the afternoon.
[Initial post, 11:45 a.m. ET] Lee whipped up winds, dumped rain and caused severe flooding across a broad swath of the Southeast on Monday even after weakening to a tropical depression.
The storm will bring up to 20 inches of rain to some areas Monday as it moves into southern Mississippi, the National Hurricane Center said.
The threat of flash floods forced authorities in Jackson, Mississippi, to evacuate more than two dozen families from an apartment complex early Monday, Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green said. The storm knocked down power lines and trees across the city, officials said Monday.FULL STORY
The largest employer in a northwest Alabama town that lost 18 residents and its business core to an EF-5 tornado will announce Monday night whether it will rebuild.
VF Corp. has been evaluating what to do at its Wrangler jeans distribution center since the April 27 storm destroyed it and killed one employee.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we finalize our evaluation process, especially the people of Hackleburg,” CEO Eric Wiseman said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to informing our associates and the Hackleburg community of our decision early next week.”
Since the tornado, the majority of the 150 displaced workers have been employed at company-owned locations in Hackleburg and Holly Pond.
Federal, state and local officials have conducted a full-court press, offering a range of incentives to VF Corp. The political leaders say a new Wrangler facility is a crucial component in the town’s recovery.
The extreme weather events that battered the United States throughout April impressed even the nation's top weather experts.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration special report outlines just how extraordinary the month was:
Calling the confluence of events "truly remarkable," CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano concurred with the report's authors in putting much of the blame on a phenomenon known as La Niña.
Tough new state immigration laws are striking fear in the hearts of illegal immigrants with American-born children.
“I worry about my children,” says one father of two young kids in Carrollton, Georgia. He didn't want to give his name, because he has no legal right to reside in the United States. “My kids were born here. What will happen with them? We don’t know, and that’s the fear we have.”
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a "tough illegal immigration law" Thursday morning, his press office said.
The bill is considered by both supporters and critics to be among the toughest in the nation, even stricter than controversial laws in Arizona and Georgia.
Under the new law, public schools will be required to determine the citizenship and immigration status of enrolling students through sworn affidavits or birth certificates.
Authorities will also be required to detain a person who they believe is in the country illegally if the person cannot produce proof of residency when stopped "for any reason."
Alabama businesses will be required to use a database called E-Verify to look up the immigration status of new employees. The use of the database was recently endorsed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a separate Arizona immigration law.
It will be illegal for Alabama residents to knowingly give a ride or transport an illegal immigrant or for a landlord to knowingly rent a property to an illegal immigrant.
Cecillia Wang, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's immigrants rights project, called the bill "outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional" in an interview with The New York Times before Bentley signed it.FULL STORY
Imagine a column of trash the size of a football field reaching more than a mile into the sky. That's how much debris the deadly tornadoes that struck Alabama in April left behind, according to estimates.
The 64 twisters left more than 10 million cubic yards of smashed homes, buildings, vehicles and trees in the state, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Cleanup crews have removed more than 4.3 million cubic yards of debris from the storms, which killed 238 people, FEMA says.
The Army Corps of Engineers is coordinating debris removal. The corps is encouraging people to sort debris into categories as much as possible so materials can be handled properly and some recycled.
Crews either burn or chip trees and shrubs; construction debris is hauled to licensed landfills; and hazardous materials are taken to facilities designed to handle them.