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An adult mosquito is shown in the laboratory as the 2007 West Nile Virus program of the Middlesex-London Health Unit kicked off in Strathroy, Ont., on May 10, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

West Nile virus kills 2 in Windsor

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

Health officials say two people in the Windsor area have died as a result of the West Nile virus.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit confirms that two deaths within the last week have been attributed to the virus.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Doctor Wajid Ahmed says the two people who died were seniors.

The health unit says the virus will continue to be a risk in the area until temperatures dip below freezing.

Irma weakens to a tropical storm

SETH BORENSTEIN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Sep 11th, 2017

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Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

Irma is centred about 105 miles (170 kilometres) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).

Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.


Related stories:

Federal government sends team to determine how Canada can help hurricane victims
Toronto-based Global Medic sends volunteers to storm-stricken St. Maarten
Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category 2 as it pummels Florida


Before crashing into Florida, Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength as it flattened Caribbean islands and swamped the Florida Keys. Irma’s assault – so soon after Harvey’s deluge of Houston – marked the first time the U.S. was hit by two Category 4 storms in the same year.

Irma hit the Sunshine State as a big wide beast, though not quite the monster it once was shaping up to be. Earlier, it was the most powerful recorded storm in the open Atlantic. But as the once-Category 5 storm neared the U.S. mainland, it lost some oomph after running into the northern coast of Cuba.

Winds dropped to a quite potent 115 mph (185 kph) by the time Irma made landfall on Marco Island, on the Florida peninsula, still a major and dangerous hurricane yet not near its 185 mph (297 kph) former self when it set a record Tuesday for the most powerful storm in the open Atlantic. And on top of that, Irma avoided what could have been its most destructive paths along the Florida peninsula – over Miami and the heavily developed Atlantic seaboard. Still, at about 400 miles (640 kilometres) wide, it raked much of the state with devastating storm surge, destructive winds and drenching rains before weakening.

“There’s a huge difference between a (Category) 3 and 5 when it makes landfall,” said private meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics. “Barbuda is an example of that. It was wiped.”

“This is obviously not the worst case scenario for Florida overall,” Maue said. Had the centre of Irma hit Florida 20 to 30 miles (32-50 kilometres) to the east “it would have been much worse.”

Florida can thank Cuba, where it did hit as a Category 5 storm, said Maue and Jeff Masters, meteorology director for Weather Underground.

Irma would probably have hit Florida as a Category 5 hurricane if it had missed Cuba, Masters told The Associated Press.

The storm briefly trekked over Cuba’s low populated coast Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. That weakened Irma enough that when upper level winds from the west eroded some of the storm’s top and also blew in dry air, it had the combined of effect of making Irma more ragged, Masters said. It was at that, he said, that Irma’s southwest eyewall sort of came apart, no longer a perfect circle on satellite imagery.

Slightly weakened from Cuba, the storm got caught up in competing weather systems a little longer, delaying its northward right turn into Florida. And that delay pushed the track further west, making it more of a threat to Florida’s west coast than its east.

Florida’s west coast has about $1 trillion in property at risk to a storm, compared to $1.5 trillion on the east, according to insurance computer modeling firm AIR Worldwide. The company estimates insured losses for Irma will be between $15 billion and $50 billion.

And even another 20 to 30 miles (32-50 kilometres) would have put the nasty and stronger northeast quadrant of stronger winds, storm surge, rainfall and tornadoes more directly in Miami, Maue said. And even hitting the Tampa region from land to the south instead of from open water will reduce storm surge ever so slightly, Masters said.

Despite all that, Masters predicts that when Irma is done it will go down as one of the five costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, but not up with the top three of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, 2012’s Sandy and this year’s Harvey. Still, he guessed, it will be grouped with two other South Florida storms: 1992’s Andrew and 2005’s Wilma.

Irma’s two U.S. landfalls were unusually powerful. When Irma passed over the Florida Keys Sunday morning its central pressure was the seventh lowest for a smack into the United States. Only the 1935 Labor Day storm, 1969’s Camille, Katrina, Andrew, an 1886 Indianola, Texas, storm, and a 1919 Florida Keys storm were more intense based on atmospheric pressure. Irma ties the killer 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane.

Irma’s second landfall on Marco Island, taken by itself, still would rank among the top couple dozen landfalls in intensity, slightly weaker than Harvey.

Irma set plenty of records, according to a two-page list compiled by Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach:

–Its 185 mph (297 kph) winds were the highest on record for the open Atlantic ocean, outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean sea. Only one other storm in the entire Atlantic basin – 1980’s Allen – was stronger.

–It spent three consecutive days as a top-of-the-scale Category 5 hurricane, the longest in the satellite era.

— It generated the second most Accumulated Cyclone Energy _ a key measurement that combines strength and duration _ in the satellite era. Irma generated about as much as energy as entire normal Atlantic hurricane season.

–It was the strongest storm to hit the Leeward Islands.

–It’s the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba, which regularly gets assaulted by hurricanes, in nearly 100 years.

“This storm is the real deal,” Klotzbach said.

Federal government sends team to determine how Canada can help hurricane victims

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Sep 11th, 2017

Houses are seen on September 8, 2017 in Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda, devastated by Hurricane Irma. 
Hurricane Irma on Thursday slashed its way through the Caribbean towards the United States, transforming tropical island paradises into scenes of death and ruin. / AFP PHOTO / Gemma HANDY        (Photo credit should read GEMMA HANDY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Canadian government is sending a team to the Caribbean to determine what help Canada can provide to victims of hurricane Irma.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the assessment team is headed for Antigua.

He says the team will look at what humanitarian assistance can be provided to the region.

Among the tools the government can use is its Disaster Assistance Response Team, made up of members of the military and civilians from Global Affairs Canada.

The DART can go to anywhere in the world on short notice to provide humanitarian assistance.

There were calls on the weekend for Canada to do more to help some of the Canadian citizens who were caught up in Irma’s wrath.

Nearly 300 Canadians have asked for assistance, Global Affairs said Sunday.


Related stories:

Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category 2 as it pummels Florida
Toronto-based Global Medic sends volunteers to storm-stricken St. Maarten
Canadians in Florida brace for the worst as hurricane Irma descends

‘Pray for everybody’: Irma begins its assault on Florida

TAMARA LUSH AND JAY REEVES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Sunday, Sep 10th, 2017

Patrick Danver, 67, of Satellite Beach, Fla. uses an umbrella to shield from the driving rain in South Patrick Shores, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 as Hurricane Irma made landfall in the state of Florida. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Hurricane Irma roared through the Florida Keys on Sunday with punishing 130 mph winds and began pushing its way north, knocking out power to more than 1.5 million people across the state and collapsing a construction crane over the Miami skyline.

The nearly 400-mile-wide storm is expected to make a slow, ruinous march up Florida’s west coast, straight toward the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area by Monday morning.

Streets emptied across the bottom half of the Florida peninsula, and some 127,000 people huddled in shelters.

“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” Gov. Rick Scott said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Flooding, roof damage and floating appliances and furniture were reported in the low-lying Keys, but with the storm still hitting around midday, the full extent of Irma’s wrath was not clear.

There were no immediate confirmed reports of any deaths from the storm.

While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire state — including the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people — was in extreme peril from the monstrously wide storm.

Nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of harm’s way, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

About 30,000 people heeded orders to evacuate the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused to leave, in part because to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.

John Huston, who was riding out the storm at his Key Largo home, was already seeing flooding in his yard before the arrival of high tide. “Small boats floating down the street next to furniture and refrigerators. Very noisy,” he said by text message. “Shingles are coming off.”

In downtown Miami, one of two dozen construction cranes looming over the skyline collapsed atop a high-rise in Irma’s winds. There was no immediate word on any damage or injuries. City officials said it would have taken about two weeks to have moved the cranes out of harm’s way.

Irma made landfall just after 9 a.m. at Cudjoe Key, about 20 miles outside Key West, forecasters said. By late morning, it was advancing toward Florida’s southwestern corner, moving at 9 mph.

Key West Police urged anyone riding out the storm in that city to “resist the urge” to go outside during the eye, the deceptively calm interlude in the middle of a hurricane. “Dangerous winds will follow quickly,” police said in a Facebook post.

“Once this system passes through, it’s going to be a race to save lives and sustain lives,” Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said on “Fox News Sunday.”

With FEMA still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Irma could test the agency’s ability to handle two disasters at the same time.

Even before the extent of its potential devastation was clear, the storm made a huge swath of the peninsula’s bottom half unrecognizable.

Normally bustling streets were ghost towns. Famed party stretches including Duval Street in Key West and Ocean Drive on South Beach were shuttered. Sunday church services were called off, and theme parks were closed.

Irma was at one time the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, with a peak wind speed of 185 mph (300 kph) last week.

It left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean, and as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico’s bathtub-warm water of nearly 90 degrees, regained strength.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg area, with a population of about 3 million, has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921. The wind was already picking up in St. Petersburg, some 400 miles north the Keys, and people began bracing for the onslaught.

“I’ve been here with other storms, other hurricanes. But this one scares me,” Sally Carlson said she snapped photos of the waves crashing against boats. “Let’s just say a prayer we hope we make it through.”

The governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 30,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were on standby.

Forecasters warned that after charting up Florida’s west coast, a weakened Irma could push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, some 200 miles from the sea.

Given its mammoth size and strength and its projected course, Irma could prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida and inflict damage on a scale not seen here in 25 years.

Hurricane Andrew smashed into suburban Miami in 1992 with winds topping 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes. The damage in Florida totalled $26 billion, and at least 40 people died.

Lush reported from St. Petersburg. Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Terry Spencer in Palm Beach County; Gary Fineout in Tallahassee; Terrance Harris and Claire Galofaro in Orlando; and Freida Frisaro, Jason Dearen, Jennifer Kay and David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.


Related stories:

Medical students urge Ottawa to help Canadians stranded in St. Maarten

‘I’m scared to death,’ says Key West woman riding out storm

Canadians in Florida brace for the worst as hurricane Irma descends

Medical students urge Ottawa to help Canadians stranded in St. Maarten

DANIELA GERMANO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Sunday, Sep 10th, 2017

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Some Canadian medical students who managed to escape before hurricane Irma pummelled St. Maarten are urging the federal government to do more to bring home their colleagues who weren’t so lucky.

Dulani Samarappuli of Calgary, who just finished her first year at the American University of the Caribbean School, said she was one of five Canadians from the school who managed to board one of the last flights to Canada on Tuesday morning before the devastating storm hit.

“My plan was to pack up everything in the house, take shelter on campus and ride it out,” the 26-year-old said. “But the night they said Irma would be a Category 5, I started to get more nervous and so did other students.”

Samarappuli she and four other students decided at the last minute to go to the airport last minute to see if they could catch a flight to Toronto.

The Sunwing flight was booked, but Samarappuli said they were told to wait in case some passengers did not show up. Before takeoff, she said, they were able to board the plane.

The massive storm directly hit the island — which is divided between the French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten — early Wednesday, pounding its airport and leaving thousands of tourists and locals desperate to escape.

Dutch officials said the situation remained “grim” Saturday on the island where widespread looting had broken out and a state of emergency was in force.

Dutch government estimated Saturday that 70 per cent of houses were badly damaged or destroyed, leaving much of the 40,000 population in public shelters as they braced for the arrival of hurricane Jose.

Now safe at home, Samarappuli said she and about 25 other Canadian students from the school who fled St. Maarten in time have banded together to get all the Canadians hunkering down at the university back home.

They created an online petition that garnered more than 500 signatures as of Saturday night to draw attention to the situation in hopes that the Canadian government would do more to rescue citizens who are worried about their safety and running out of supplies.

“They have curfews in place in the evenings to keep people safe and at home, and students are not allowed to leave campus without security guards,” she said. “But they are definitely afraid as far as how much worse it could get.”

After Irma, aerial footage shot by Dutch marines showed that Maho Beach’s sands had washed away and the airport was badly damaged. The Dutch military is using the runway, which was inundated by high tides during the hurricane, to ferry in aid supplies but officials say it’s not yet open to civilian flights as there are no runway lights or air traffic control.

Samarappuli said some American students have been evacuated from the island by the U.S. military, adding Canada should do the same. Although Sunwing evacuated some Canadian tourists from St. Maarten to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, Samarappuli said she hasn’t heard of help coming from the Canadian government.

“I and all my colleagues have been trying all day and all week to try to reach government (officials) and get some sort of answers as to what they are doing to help and when that help is going to come,” she said. “So far we haven’t gotten any answers.”

The Canadian government said in a teleconference Saturday that it is closely monitoring the progress of Irma, as well as hurricane Jose.

Officials said they had received calls from about 222 Canadians across numerous Caribbean islands requesting consular help and disaster assessment teams are poised for deployment if necessary.

With files from The Associated Press


Related stories:

Hurricane Irma begins assault on Florida Keys

‘I’m scared to death,’ says Key West woman riding out storm

Canadians in Florida brace for the worst as hurricane Irma descends

Toronto-based Global Medic sends volunteers to storm-stricken St. Maarten

The Canadian Press | posted Sunday, Sep 10th, 2017

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A Toronto-based aid organization says it’s sent four people to storm-battered St. Maarten to deliver supplies to those affected by hurricane Irma.

Rahul Singh, executive director of Global Medic, says the agency’s volunteers are headed to the Caribbean country on a Sunwing rescue flight.

“Everyone’s trying to get out of the one place that we’re getting into,” he said.

St. Maarten, located on the Dutch side of an island divided between French and Dutch control, was devastated by the hurricane. An estimated 70 per cent of the homes were damaged or destroyed by Irma and four people have died, according to the Dutch government.

There was concern that hurricane Jose could hit the island Saturday night, but the Netherlands said the island was spared further damage because the storm passed farther from shore than expected.

Sunwing said its rescue flight left from Toronto on Sunday morning, and will drop off one tonne of humanitarian aid supplies, along with the Global Medic volunteers.

A representative for the Canadian airline said the flight will be picking up Canadians, Americans and Europeans stuck on the island.


Related stories:

Global Affairs Emergency Watch and Response Centre

Medical students urge Ottawa to help Canadians stranded in St. Maarten

Deadly Hurricane Irma plows into the Florida Keys

Canadians in Florida brace for the worst as hurricane Irma descends


Singh said his team of volunteers, which includes a paramedic, a firefighter and a pilot, will distribute hygiene kits and water purification kits, along with water purification units that will be used in hospitals.

“Our getting in could make the world of difference to the patients in that hospital with no clean water, to those 1,700 folks that are going to get aid, and to the overall emergency system,” he said.

On top of that, Singh said, they brought enough water purification tablets to purify a million litres of water.

“People have some pretty significant needs down there, and we’re racing against time to meet them,” Singh said.

He said the St. Maarten government has also asked that his team use drones to gather “aerial imaging and comprehensive mapping” of the damage.

More than 9,000 Canadians have registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service in the region, Global Affairs said Sunday, but added that the number only provides an estimate since registration is voluntary. Out of those registered in the area, 296 Canadian citizens have requested assistance.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected, both Canadians abroad and their families at home,” spokeswoman Natasha Nystrom said in a statement. “During this difficult time, the Government of Canada is making every possible effort to assist Canadian citizens affected by hurricane Irma and those who may be affected by hurricane Jose.”

She said Canada’s diplomatic missions are working with local authorities, airlines and tour operators to further help affected Canadians.

Canada is also working with international partners such as the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, France and the Netherlands to information and co-ordinate our efforts, she added.

Hurricane Irma slams Turks and Caicos on path to Florida, 11 dead

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 8th, 2017

Orient Bay on the French Carribean island of Saint-Martin is seen on Sept. 7, 2017, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. GETTY IMAGES/AFP PHOTO/Lionel Chamoiseau
France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 rushed to provide water, emergency rations and rescue teams to territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, with aid efforts complicated by damage to local airports and harbours. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed four people were killed and 50 more injured.

  / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAU        (Photo credit should read LIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Hurricane Irma battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday and Cuba evacuated tourists from beachside resorts as the fearsome storm continued a rampage through the Caribbean that has killed at least 11 people, with Florida in its sights.

Waves as high as 20 feet (6 metres) were expected in the Turks and Caicos. Communications went down as the storm slammed into the islands, and the extent of the devastation was unclear.

The first hurricane warnings were issued for parts of southern Florida as the state braced for what could be a catastrophic hit over the weekend. Following in Irma’s wake was Hurricane Jose, with some of the islands hit hardest by Irma in its expected path.

Irma weakened from a Category 5 storm to Category 4 on Friday morning with maximum sustained winds near 155 mph (250 kph), but it remained a powerful hurricane.

Irma rolled past the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday and spun along the northern coast of Cuba on Friday morning. Thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the Cuban coast Thursday in anticipation of 20-foot storm surges. Buses loaded with tourists began streaming out of Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and other keys dotted with all-inclusive resorts.

All residents of the area were under mandatory evacuation orders from the Cuban government, which was moving tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastline.

French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands where at least 11 people were dead and thousands homeless. Warships and planes were sent with food, water and troops after the hurricane smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world’s most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations.

The first islands hit by the storm were scenes of terrible destruction.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday that four people were confirmed dead and about 50 injured on the French side of St. Martin, an island split between Dutch and French control, where homes were splintered and road signs scattered by the fierce winds. The cafes and clothing shops of the picturesque seaside village of Marigot were submerged in brown floodwaters. The toll could rise because rescue teams had yet to get a complete look at the damage.

The U.S. Consulate General in Curacao said it believes about 6,000 Americans are stranded on St. Martin. It said it was working with the U.S. and other governments to try to figure out how to get the Americans off the island either by air or boat. Frantic Americans were calling home to relatives to try to get them off the island ahead of Hurricane Jose.

At least four people were killed in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and officials said they expected to find more bodies. Authorities described the damage as catastrophic and said crews were struggling to reopen roads and restore power.

Three more deaths were reported on the British island of Anguilla, as well as Barbuda and the Dutch side of St. Martin.

The hospital on St. Thomas was destroyed and dozens of patients were being evacuated to St. Croix and Puerto Rico by the U.S. Coast Guard. Local official said a U.S. Navy hospital ship was arriving as early as Friday to care for unknown numbers of injured and two Air Force C-130s transport planes were bringing in food and water.

Power lines and towers were toppled, leaves were stripped off plants and trees, a water and sewage treatment plants was heavily damaged and the harbour was in ruins, along with hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses. Gov. Kenneth Mapp imposed a 6 p.m. curfew.

The primary focus for now is “making sure people have meals, water and shelter,” Mapp said. “An event of this magnitude is very chilling.”

Irma also slammed the French island of St. Barts, tearing off roofs and knocking out electricity in the high-end tourist destination.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said 100,000 food rations were sent to St. Barts and St. Martin, the equivalent of four days of supplies.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the storm “caused wide-scale destruction of infrastructure, houses and businesses.”

“There is no power, no gasoline, no running water. Houses are under water, cars are floating through the streets, inhabitants are sitting in the dark in ruined houses and are cut off from the outside world,” he said.

Big waves smashed a dozen homes into rubble in the Dominican fishing community of Nagua, but work crews said all the residents had left before the storm. Officials said 11,200 people in all had evacuated vulnerable areas, while 55,000 soldiers had been deployed to help the cleanup.

In Haiti, two people were injured by a falling tree, a national roadway was blocked by debris and roofs were torn from houses along the northern coast but there were no immediate reports of deaths. Officials warned that could change as Irma continued to lash Haiti, where deforested hillsides are prone to devastating mudslides that have wiped out entire neighbourhoods of precariously built homes in flood zones.

“We are vulnerable. We don’t have any equipment to help the population,” Josue Alusma, mayor of the northern city of Port de Paix, said on Radio Zenith FM.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he would go to the islands as soon as the weather permits it.

On Barbuda, nearly every building was damaged when the hurricane’s core crossed almost directly over the island early Wednesday. About 60 per cent of its roughly 1,400 residents were left homeless, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.

Hundreds of miles to the west, Florida prepared for Irma’s wrath, with forecasters warning the storm could slam headlong into the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, punish the entire length of the state’s Atlantic coast and move into Georgia and South Carolina.

More than a half-million people in Miami-Dade County were ordered to leave as Irma closed in.

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said Irma could easily prove to be the costliest storm in U.S. history.

“Take it seriously, because this is the real deal,” said Maj. Jeremy DeHart, a U.S. Air Force Reserve weather officer who flew through the eye of Irma at 10,000 feet (3,048 metres).

Farther out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose strengthened into a Category 3 storm with 120 mph (195 kph) winds and posed a potential threat for Saturday to some of the same islands ravaged by Irma.

Irma, the most potent Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded, appeared increasingly likely to rip into heavily populated South Florida on Sunday afternoon after sweeping along Cuba’s northern coast on Saturday.

People in Florida rushed to board up their homes, take their boats out of the water and gas up their cars. With gasoline running out and tensions rising, the Florida Highway Patrol escorted tanker trucks sent to replenish gas stations.

“It is wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. “Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate.”

Fox reported from Miami. Associated Press writers Ian Brown in St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands; Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ezequiel Lopez Abiu in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Anika Kentish in St. John’s, Antigua; Seth Borenstein in Washington; Michael Weissenstein in Havana; and Samuel Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.

Ontario to open up dozens of storefronts to sell marijuana: sources

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 8th, 2017

An employee places marijuana on a scale for a client at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Reed Saxon

Ontario reportedly plans to open dozens of storefronts across the province to manage the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana after the federal government legalizes its recreational use.

Media reports citing industry and government sources say Ontario’s Liberal government will allow the sale of marijuana at 40 to 60 storefronts across the province to be operated by a government-owned entity and also allow online sales.

The sources say more storefronts would be added over time and would not be housed in existing Liquor Control Board of Ontario outlets, an idea that had previously been floated by Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The locations of the stores would be determined after municipalities are consulted.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Health Minister Eric Hoskins are scheduled to reveal Ontario’s plan at a news conference on Friday morning.

The federal government plans to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by July 1, 2018, and leave it up to the provinces and territories to oversee distribution and sales.

 

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