Bottled water handed out in flooded Ky. with more rain in forecast
HINDMAN, Ky. — National Guard soldiers rushed to distribute bottled water to flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky as forecasters warned of more rain coming to the region.
In the days since historic flooding swamped the Appalachian region, the availability of water surfaced as a big concern for victims after the floodwaters badly damaged water systems. As donations poured into the region, water was a main priority, along with cleaning supplies.
“We’re going to deliver water until these counties and areas beg us to stop delivering water,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday. “As hot as it is, with as many systems that are out, we want a mountain of water there.”
National Guard soldiers have delivered more than 11,600 cases of water, the governor said, as intense heat and humidity added to the misery as people continued shoveling out from the wreckage left by flooding that struck a week ago.
Water service has been restored to many people in the region, the governor said. But about 13,500 service connections remained without water and another 41,000 service connections have boil-water advisories, Beshear said.
Work is continuing on heavily damaged water systems, but other systems were “wiped out,” the governor said Wednesday. In some areas, it could take weeks or even months to repair water systems, he said.
Scattered thunderstorms were moving through the area again Thursday, but most had been on the lighter side as of midafternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Philomon Geertson said.
He said storms were expected to continue moving through overnight that had the potential to cause some isolated flash flooding. A cluster of storms also have the potential to cause isolated or scattered flash flooding Friday, he said. The primary concern, he said, is that the saturated ground could cause waterways to rise quickly.
The statewide death toll from the historic flooding is 37, the governor said.
Former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez was arrested Thursday on bribery charges related to the financing of her 2020 campaign, the latest hit to an island with a long history of corruption that brought fresh political upheaval to the U.S. territory.
Vazquez, 62, is accused of engaging in a bribery scheme from December 2019 through June 2020 — while she was governor — with several people, including a Venezuelan-Italian bank owner, a former FBI agent, a bank president and a political consultant.
“I am innocent. I have not committed any crime,” she told reporters. “I assure you that they have committed a great injustice against me.”
The arrest embarrassed and angered many in Puerto Rico who believe the island’s already shaky image has been further tarnished, leaving a growing number of people who have lost faith in their local officials to wonder whether federal authorities are their only hope to root out entrenched government corruption.
Concern over previous corruption cases led to a delay in federal aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricane
Maria in 2017 as the U.S. government implemented more safeguards.
Calif. wildfire: Firefighters made gains against California’s deadliest and largest wildfire of the year, but forecasters warned Thursday that spiking temperatures and plunging humidity could create conditions for further growth.
After five days of no containment, the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border was 10% surrounded by Wednesday evening. Bulldozers and hand crews were making progress carving firebreaks around much of the rest of the blaze, officials said.
The fire didn’t advance much at midweek, following several days of brief but heavy rain from thunderstorms that provided cloudy, damper weather. But as the clouds clear and humidity levels drops in the coming days, the fire could roar again, authorities warned.
Weekend temperatures could reach triple digits as the region dries out again,
said meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis with the National Weather Service office in Medford, Oregon.
The blaze broke out last Friday and has charred nearly 92 square miles of forestland, left tinder-dry by drought. More than 100 homes and other buildings have burned and four bodies have been found.
Nuclear talks: Negotiators from Iran, the U.S. and the European Union resumed monthslong, indirect talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal Thursday.
The resumption of the Vienna talks, suddenly called Wednesday, appeared not to include high-level representation from all the countries that were part of Iran’s 2015 deal with world powers. The negotiations come as Western officials express growing skepticism over the prospects for a deal to restore the accord.
Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, met with EU mediator Enrique Mora, Iranian media reported. As in other talks, the U.S. won’t
directly negotiate with Iran. Instead, the two sides will speak through Mora.
Pope’s nurse promoted:
Pope Francis promoted a Vatican nurse whom he credited with saving his life to be his “personal health care assistant.”
The Vatican announced the appointment of Massimiliano Strappetti, the nursing coordinator of the Vatican’s health department, in a one-line statement issued Thursday.
Francis, 85, last year credited Strappetti with having accurately ascertained an intestinal problem that led to the pope’s 10-day hospital stay in July 2021 to remove 13 inches of his colon that had narrowed.
Strappetti’s appointment was announced days after he and a doctor accompanied Francis on his weeklong “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in the country’s residential schools for Indigenous children.
African life expectancy:
Africa recorded significant growth in its healthy life expectancy from 2000 to 2019, the World Health Organization Africa office said Thursday, exceeding the global average and progress seen in any other region over the same period.
Healthy life expectancy in the region “rose by almost 10 years to stand at 56 years in 2019 compared with 46 years in the year 2000,” Dr. Lindiwe Makubalo, assistant regional Director for WHO Africa, said at an online briefing, citing the WHO’s new State of Health in Africa report.
The gain exceeds that of the average global healthy life expectancy that increased by five years over the same period, Dr. Makubalo said, attributing it to better essential health services, improvement in health service coverage, in productive and maternal health and in health services to tackle infectious diseases.
However, life expectancy in Africa remains well below the global average of 64 years.