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honorables868

honorables868   , 30

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USAA Changes Policy After ABC News Investigation Into Sandy-Damaged Vehicles Sold on Used Car Lots



ABC US News | International News

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In the wake of an ABC News investigation into superstorm Sandy-damaged cars being sold on used car lots, a major American insurance company acknowledged that its salvage vehicle branding process after Sandy was "unsatisfactory," and it is making changes to help keep those damaged cars off the road.

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USAA, which focuses on providing financial services and insurance to U.S. I found this information about water damage remediation and think it is useful. If you require more information, you should go here:military members and their families, is now facing questions, which were raised by an ABC's "The Lookout" report in July, over its failure to brand at least one of its flood-damaged vehicles -- a 2006 Ford F-350 -- as a salvage vehicle before selling it at auction.

In a follow-up interview with "The Lookout's" Bill Weir, Kevin Bergner, the president of USAA's Property and Casualty Insurance Group and a former Army general, said the team's report was "shining the light on something that is troubling all of us."

"We went back and looked at our process, and we said 'unsatisfactory,'" Bergner said. "We are changing it, and we will maintain that highest standard. That even a parts-only sale will involve a [salvage] branded title."

When superstorm Sandy pummeled the Northeast last October, the damage was widespread. Nearly 300 people lost their lives, and thousands more lost their homes. Then there were the cars. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an estimated 250,000 cars were submerged for days in corrosive saltwater.

Thousands of these flood-damaged vehicles were temporarily stored at the Calverton Executive Airpark in Long Island. In the months following Sandy's destruction, these cars began to disappear. Where did these flood cars go?

In a seven-month investigation, ABC's "The Lookout" found these cars turning up on used car lots across the country.

Christopher Basso, public relations manager at CarFax, explains the potential hazards of flood-damaged vehicles, adding that "flood cars literally rot from the inside out."

Because of how easily the damage can be concealed, Basso warns prospective buyers to bring the vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection. "While this car looks great on the outside and to the untrained eye, things are falling apart inside this car. It may not happen immediately, but days, weeks or months down the road, parts that are on this car are going to fail."

CarFax estimates that more than 100,000 Sandy-damaged vehicles are now back on the road across the United States.

When ABC's "The Lookout" team went undercover at used car dealership D&D Auto Sales in Old Bridge, N.J., it discovered a Ford F-350 truck totaled by superstorm Sandy selling for $19,999. The truck's Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, and auction records indicated it had been damaged by a flood.

A D&D's salesman sold the car to an ABC's "The Lookout" producer for its asking price and referred to a flood alert on the vehicle history report CarFax as only "a glitch."

But Alan Picker, owner and certified mechanic at All-Time AutoBody in Point Pleasant, N.J., knows the CarFax alert was no glitch. "The Lookout" team brought the truck to him to examine the dangers a cleaned-up flood vehicle can often conceal. Picker discovered the car had serious damage, including a corroded transmission, as well as potentially hazardous airbags that could randomly deploy while driving.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/usaa-policy-abc-news-investigation-sandy-damaged-vehicles/story?id=20156236


"Unprecedented" Flooding in Balkans Caused by Low Pressure Parked over SE Europe



The torrential rains and catastrophic floods that raged through parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia were unprecedented in the historical record of the region, going back 120 years. Butextreme weather eventslike this one are something communities may have to contend with more and more as the planet warms, experts say.

The flooding event began on May 13 when an area of low pressure developed as warm, moist air from over the Mediterranean Sea clashed with colder air from the north. The low became cut-off from the jet stream, which would ordinarily usher the system across the region -- instead, it remained parked over southeast Europe, dumping rain for several days.

Authorities in Bosnia and Serbia reported that about 4 inches of rain fell on May 14 and 15, with larger downpours in some locations. In just a few days, some areas received an amount of rain equivalent to one third of their annual total, said Steven Bowen, an associate director and meteorologist with the reinsurance group Aon Benfield.

"We're looking at a pretty unprecedented event," Bowen told Climate Central. It was at least a 1-in-100 year event for the region, he said.

The flooding was so bad in part because the region had already seen unusually strong rains since mid-April, so soils were saturated and unable to soak up some of the tremendous excess. Instead, water went crashing down slopes and into numerous streams and rivers of the Danube watershed, many of which breached their banks and set record flood levels.

Dozens of deaths have been reported in the affected countries, and initial estimates of the total damage are more than $1.4 billion. The floodwaters have also washed away the signs that warn of fields of landmines planted during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and may have washed some of the mines themselves into the Danube watershed,according to news reports.

The effects could have been worse, though, as the event was well forecast by European and local meteorological agencies, said Dimitar Ivanov, a meteorologist with theWorld Meteorological Organization. The WMO has worked in the region to better train meteorologists to forecast extreme weather events and to improve communication between forecasters and civil authorities, Ivanov, who has been involved with that work, said. In this case, Serbian and Bosnian authorities both issued a "red warning" (the highest warning level) for rains and flooding throughMeteoAlarm, a platform aimed at providing comprehensive weather warnings across Europe, and which Bosnia just recently joined.

"I believe that the information that was provided in advance of this particular event really helped to minimize the losses," Ivanov told Climate Central.

The WMO's efforts to improve forecasting and disaster management have, in part, been aimed at climate adaptation in the face of the effects of global warming. Extreme weather events like this one could become more common in the future in Europe, the latest report from theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeconcluded.

The Balkans have experienced quite a few climate extremes in recent years, Ivanov said. The winter of 2011-2012 was one of thecoldest, harshest wintersin decades, and was followed by an extremely hot, dry summer that featured the worst drought in 40 years and helped fuel rampant wildfires, according to aHuffington Post articleat the time.

"So we can see what is quite obviously a trend" of extreme weather, Ivanov said.

In particular, the IPCC notes that extreme rainfall eventsare expected to become more frequent. As Earth's atmosphere warms with increasing amounts of greenhouse gases, the amount of water vapor within it increases, weighting the dice toward more substantial downpours even in areas that are expected to become drier in the long term. Every region of the U.S. has seen an increase in heavy downpours, for example, with the most recent occurrence coming last month in Florida, when a storm system dumped 10 to 15 inches ofrain the Pensacola areain just 24 hours.

More heavy downpourscould increase flooding risks that "without adaptive measures, will substantially increase flood damages," according to the IPCC.

In fact, the economic damage wrought by river floods has increased in recent decades as more development in floodplains has put more people and infrastructure in harm's way, the IPCC noted. I actually found this article concerning water extraction and think it is interesting. If you need more information, you should go here:For example, themajor floodsthat struck central Europe last year caused $20 billion in damage, Bowen said. All of which points to the need for better flood protection, he said, not just in these parts of Europe, but across the world.

"I think countries kind of need to be a little more proactive in terms of preparing for these kinds of events," he said.

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This article is reproduced with permission from Climate Central. The article was first published on May 20, 2014.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unprecedented-flooding-in-balkans-caused-by-low-pressure-parked-over-se-europe/

State of emergency declared after 20 inches of rain in 24 hours soaks Florida's Panhandle



LOUISVILLE, Miss. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Wednesday after his state was hit with more than 20 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, killing at least one and leaving others stranded in their houses and cars in the state's Panhandle.

Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson told The Pensacola News Journal that at least one person died and several others were stranded by floodwaters in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The circumstances surrounding the death were not immediately known.

Pearson said fire rescue crews aren't able to respond to some calls early Wednesday because of road flooding around Pensacola. He said some people have climbed into their attics because of rising waters.

"We are asking people to stay off the roads," Pearson told the newspaper.

The county is moving boats and jet skis from beaches to streets for rescues. I found this informative article concerning water damage repair and thought it was helpful. If you require more information, you ought to check the page:The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is lending boats and officers to help.

LIST OF ROAD CLOSURES

Schools and most government offices in the area are closed Wednesday.

Tamara Fountain, spokeswoman for the city of Pensacola, told The Pensacola News Journal that the city activated its Emergency Operations Center in response to the flooding.

"People are being rescued from their homes and cars," Fountain said. "People are still out driving. They need to stay in."

As much as 15 to 20 inches had fallen in Pensacola in a 24-hour period, National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Grigsby in New Orleans said Wednesday morning, with a few more inches expected. Grigsby said aerial rescues were planned, and the county moved boats and jet skis from the beaches to the streets to help. A portion of Interstate 10 was closed.

"We've seen pictures that people are posting with water halfway up their doors, front doors," Grigsby said. "It's going to be a big cleanup, looks like."

The rain and blooding was the latest wallop of a storm system that still packed considerable punch days after the violent outbreak began in Arkansas and Oklahoma. At least 35 people have been killed in that storms that started Sunday and spread from Oklahoma to North Carolina.

At least four possible tornadoes were reported late Tuesday in North Carolina, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. The storms hit especially hard in places such as Arkansas' northern Little Rock suburbs and the Mississippi cities of Louisville and Tupelo. Arkansas, with 15 deaths after a tornado blasted through Sunday, and Mississippi with 12 deaths from Monday's storms, accounted for the brunt of the death toll.

"We will overcome this," Louisville Mayor Will Hill said against a backdrop of hundreds of damaged buildings, including two hilltop churches pounded to rubble. "We're going to work together."

Authorities in Louisville searched until dark Tuesday for an 8-year-old boy missing since Monday's large tornado that killed his parents and destroyed the home where they lived. Though searchers didn't rule out finding the boy alive, officials were describing the process as one of "recovery."

Besides the dead in Mississippi and Arkansas, at least three died in Alabama, two in Iowa and one in Oklahoma.

After two days of destruction opened Sunday in the Midwest and continued Monday into the South, some didn't take any chances late Tuesday with yet more tornado watches.

Simon Turner and her 7-year-old son, Christopher, scrambled to a shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Tuesday afternoon after hearing a tornado watch had been issued around that city.

Frightened by memories of a killer tornado that partly demolished Tuscaloosa three years ago, the Turners had opted for refuge in a school with a reinforced hallway. "We'll be here till they say it's OK to leave," Turner said before the all-clear came.

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Sunday was the anniversary of an outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes that killed more than 250 people across Alabama on April 27, 2011.

The dead Monday included University of Alabama swimmer John Servati, who authorities say took shelter in the basement of a home when a retaining wall collapsed. Servati was a business major on the dean's list.

Some survived or died amid split-second decisions.

William Quinn, 25, and others dove under the gap beneath a house in Mars Hill, Miss., seconds before a tornado blew heavily damaged the home and sheared off the roofs of nearby poultry houses. He called his decision "a spur of the moment thing."

But in the southern Tennessee community of Fayetteville, a married couple was killed Monday in a tornado after returning to their mobile home after mistakenly believing the danger had passed, a neighbor said. Authorities identified the victims as John Prince, 60, and his wife Karen, 44.

"We pulled up, and were in shocked seeing our own home. But then we saw Karen's father, and he said `John and Karen are gone -- They didn't make it,"' recalled neighbor Tiffani Danner. She had left and came back to find her own home destroyed as well.

Darrell Haney, in a home nearby, thought that community was out of the woods when TV switched from tornado warnings back to regular programming -- then suddenly cut back to a possible tornado.

Haney quickly plucked up two grandchildren and huddled in a bathroom with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. Almost immediately, he said, a tree crashed into a front room where one of the children had been sleeping. The roof was lifted off of the master bedroom.

"The house is being torn apart around you, and we're just crying out, `God protect us,"' Haney said. "Because at that point you're totally hopeless and helpless."

Elsewhere, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe visited several homes Tuesday that were damaged by a deadly twister, stopping at one location where three members of a family were killed. Three of Arkansas' 15 deaths were a father and two daughters and Beebe spoke to survivors, including two of the man's other daughters.

"It was kind of heartbreaking those two little girls that I talked to that lost two of their siblings and their dad," Beebe said afterward. "That's utter destruction up there... and these people need to know that folks care about them."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here for more from The Pensacola News Journal.

http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/04/30/forecasters-downplay-tornado-predictions-as-storm-system-weakens-in-south/


A year later, some Sandy victims wonder if they’ll ever get their lives back



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Bernie Neihaus has been forced to live in this rented trailer on his property in Brick Township while he deals with red tape in repairing his home.FoxNews.com/Perry Chiaramonte

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He pays over $1500 a month for rent and upkeep out of his own pocket after FEMA denied him rental assistance.FoxNews.com/Perry Chiaramonte

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Bob and Pam Vasquez survey the empty lot in Union Beach, NJ where their house once stood.FoxNews.com/Perry Chiaramonte

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They have yet to rebuild as they are still waiting for grant money. They have had to live in a apartment provide by them from FEMA at the former Fort Monmouth military base.FoxNews.com/Perry Chiaramonte

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Michael Conacchio of Brick Township, NJ has been unable to repair his home which is infested with black mold after his insurance claim was withheld. He is forced to seek shelter in a second floor bedroom.FoxNews.com/Perry Chiaramonte

By the morning of Oct. 29, 2012, it was clear the East Coast would not be spared by the 1,100-mile storm system churning north through the Atlantic Ocean. Residents of seaside towns in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut evacuated. Homes and stores were boarded up. Schools were closed and flights canceled. Those who didn't make it to high ground hunkered down and waited.

Like a boxer softening up an opponent with body blows before going for the knockout, Sandy lashed coastal states with torrential rains and heavy winds all day. At about 8 p.m. near Brigantine, N.J., it made landfall, downgraded to a tropical storm in a meteorological distinction that seemed to belie its 100-mile-per-hour ferocity. It worked its way in and up the coast, smashing beach homes, tossing telephone poles like match sticks and sending a surge of seawater over the New Jersey boardwalk, into the streets and subways of New York City and past the dunes of Long Island.

Sandy's fury was blamed for at least 181 deaths, including 71 in New Jersey and 68 in New York. It caused $68 billion in damage and was felt in 24 states, from Florida to Maine and as far west as Wisconsin. In the ensuing weeks and months, aid workers and utility crews from all over the nation descended on the stricken area, helping victims and slowly restoring power to some 6 million homes. Yet many who found themselves in the mighty storm's path are still waiting a year later - waiting on insurance payments or government aid. Waiting to get their lives back.

One year after Superstorm Sandy unleashed its fury on the East Coast, leaving a wake of destruction from New Jersey to New England, Michael Conacchio feels like a hostage in the bedroom of his ravaged home.

As Sandy pushed north along the New Jersey coastline, it sent seawater surging over dunes and boardwalks, and into the many inlets along the shoreline. Six feet of water rushed into the first floor of Conacchio's two-story home along Barnegat Bay estuary. When the waters receded, they left a wake of ruined furniture, soggy carpet and bulging sheetrock - and an uninhabitable first floor.

"For the past 12 months I've been living in my bedroom," said Conacchio, 56, of Brick Township. "There's mold throughout the first floor."

Conacchio has plenty of company. New Jersey officials estimate that some 346,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by Sandy. And as of last month, in Ocean County alone, 26,000 people were still displaced. People who spoke to FoxNews.com said their anger is reserved for low-balling insurance agents, FEMA workers who won't listen and a host of rules governing the aid they desperately need.

"The big problem is that no grant money has hit the streets," said George Kasimos, a Toms River resident who started the advocacy group Stop FEMA Now. "They just give you a denial. Without any explanation."

"There's no straight answers."

- Bernie Neuhaus, Sandy victim

It's hard to imagine that anyone has it much worse than Conacchio. Already hampered by neck and back problems from a car accident, the self-employed audio technician was facing foreclosure when the storm hit. When the wind-driven rain came and the waters rose, he lost most of his possessions - including two cars, his work van and a boat.

Conacchio was awarded more than $115,000 through his homeowner's policy, but the money has been held up because of the pending foreclosure. The check was made out to both him and his mortgage company, and he's been unable to get the loan servicer to free up the money to pay contractors.

Now, he sits upstairs in the Tunes Brook Drive home he's lived in since 1999, with nowhere to go and nothing to do except worry abouthis future, and the creeping threat that grows on the walls below.

"I've developed lung problems." Conacchio said. "I use two inhalers and have to carry around a bag of meds. I have constant migraines. About 80 percent of the time I'm home, I sit in the dark with a wet towel over my eyes."

For Kasimos, the anger began to build when he saw people like Conacchio being ignored while businesses and attractions get priority. Much of the federal money allocated to help victims has not been spent, yet when a fire struck the Seaside Park boardwalk last month, Gov. Chris Christie almost immediately announced that Sandy recovery funds could be used to repair it. Kasimos doesn't buy the governor's reasoning that the fire was attributed to wiring that was degraded by the storm.

"The boardwalk should have fire insurance, right?" Kasimos said. "So why are we giving [them] federal money? My neighbor across the lagoon from where I live, his home caught fire. It was gutted. No one helped him."

Bernie Neuhaus has been living in a rented trailer on his Brick Township property for six months as he continues to fight for the grant money he needs to rebuild his home. He said he's grown tired of getting the runaround from FEMA and other governmental agencies.

"There's no straight answers," Neuhaus said. "You could put 10 people in a room that all represent FEMA, if you ask all of them the same question, you'll get five different answers at least, if not more.

"I've become a useful book of knowledge on something I had no desire to learn about," he said. "It has gotten to the point where I'm looking for direction from people and I know more about it then they do."

Neuhaus' home along a canal was flooded in the storm, causing extensive damage. He's been rebuilding at his own expense while wrangling with his flood insurance carrier. I stumbled upon this short article on the subject of water damage remediation and think it is helpful. If you want more information, you ought to go here:The problem: His claim was denied because the damage was deemed to have been caused by wind.

"I had to go out and get a second job just to cover all the expenses," he said. "I've been working twice as hard plus trying to rebuild has been a full-time job."

Bob and Pam Vasquez, of Union Beach, N.J., one of the hardest hit towns along the Jersey Shore, lost everything when their home flooded. They had a homeowner's policy, but no flood insurance.

"They denied us because it was water damage. We would have been covered if it was damaged from the wind," Bob Vasquez told FoxNews.com near the empty lot where his home once stood along the Raritan Bay. "So we have nothing from insurance and now we are fighting for grants."

The Vasquez's home was condemned and was razed in December. They hope to receive a grant for a new home on their lot but the process has proved daunting.

For months after the storm, they stayed with friends and family until FEMA cam through with a temporary apartment at Fort Monmouth, where the federal agency has set up emergency housing. They can stay until April, and hope to have funds for rebuilding by then.

"You just want to be home," Pam Vasquez said. "As much as [the temporary housing] has become a community, it's still not home, and you never think that it would take as long as it has."

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/29/year-later-some-sandy-victims-wonder-if-theyll-ever-get-their-lives-back/