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FedEx airlifts barbecue meals to Irma victims in Florida Keys

Hurricane victims in the Florida Keys are receiving fresh barbecue meals from Operation BBQ Relief thanks to an airlift program by FedEx, USA Today reported.

>> Read more trending news

FedEx began airlifting more than 10,000 meals a day from Fort Myers to the Keys, following through on a request from one of its aircraft mechanics, Scott Guy. FedEx assigned two feeder aircraft to transport 3,700 pounds of food each day to residents affected by Hurricane Irma from Sunday through Wednesday, USA Today reported.

Guy is a member of Operation BBQ Relief, which was formed to feed the hungry after a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011. The organization served 371,760 meals over 11 days on the Texas Gulf Coast after Hurricane Harvey, then shifted its focus to the Florida region hit by Hurricane Irma, USA Today reported.

Daycare workers wanted for taunting, abusing autistic boy, police say

Law enforcement officials are looking for two Florida daycare workers who they say berated, taunted and threw a backpack at an 8-year-old autistic boy.

>> Read more trending news

Winter Haven police, in Central Florida, retrieved a Snapchat video of the alleged abuse at Our Children’s Academy in Winter Haven.

The three-minute video, investigators say, shows Kaderrica Smith, of Haines City, and Alexus Henderson, of Dundee, harassing the child.

The boy, who is diagnosed with autism, ADHD, obsessive defiant disorder and severe outbursts, is seen and heard in the video crying and hiding under a table while the women taunt him.

Investigators say the duo yelled at him and threw shoes and a backpack at him while he was trying to hide. They also purposely knocked him over by doing a leg sweep, which caused him to fall on his back. 

>> Related: 6th grade teacher suspended, apologizes for profanity-laced homework assignment

In initial interviews, Smith and Henderson said they acted appropriately and did nothing wrong, according to the police news release. The daycare academy fired them, and their certifications allowing them to work with children were placed on hold.

Further investigation led to criminal charges being filed. Smith is charged with battery and child abuse. Henderson is being charged with child neglect.

>> Related: Abandoned meth lab discovered in Miami after Hurricane Irma

Since charges have been filed, police have been unable to find the women

Oops! FEMA mistakenly tweets number for sex line, instead of disaster relief

While offering help to Florida residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Federal Emergency Management Agency accidentally tweeted a phone number for a sex line.

>> Read more trending news

According to the Consumerist, FEMA Region 4’s Twitter account instructed people who needed disaster relief to call 1-800-ROOF-BLU for their program called “Operation Blue Roof,” which helps homeowners repair damaged roofs. 

Twitter users quickly caught the mistake, and tweeted out that the phone number was directing them to a sex hotline. 

“Callers who dial that number, however, are greeted by an automated message welcoming callers to ‘America’s hottest talk line,’ where ‘hot ladies’ are purportedly waiting to talk to guys, and women can talk to ‘interesting and exciting guys’ for ‘free,’” the Consumerist reports. 

FEMA posted a new tweet with the correct phone number, which is 1-888-ROOF-BLU.

>>Related: FEMA opens Boynton center as Florida aid tops $106 million

The Consumerist reports that once they tried to contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA, the incorrect tweet was taken down, but neither agency verbally responded to the media outlet. 

Second sinkhole forms near Florida home

Just days after a sinkhole partially swallowed a home in Apopka, Florida, a second sinkhole has formed on the same road.

>> Read more trending news

Orange County Fire Rescue officials were called Thursday to a home at 517 West Kelly Park Road in Apopka, where a 30-foot by 30-foot sinkhole was found about 100 feet from the home, according to authorities.

A separate sinkhole formed Tuesday morning at 222 West Kelly Park Road, just a few homes away from Thursday’s depression.

Thursday's sinkhole, which opened up near a greenhouse, is not endangering any property, officials said. 

The two sinkholes have caught the attention of Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson, who visited the home swallowed by a sinkhole Thursday.

"It's a total loss," he said.

Nelson, who works as an insurance agent, said the problem for homeowners in the area will be finding an insurance company to cover that area in the near future. 

"Some insurance companies probably won't want to write insurance in this area until they kind of figure out what's going on," he said. 

Emergency crews were called at 8:22 a.m. Tuesday to the home on West Kelly Park Road in Apopka. Family members said they began noticing the depression Monday night.

"I saw big, deep cracks in the bathroom. The tub was sinking and the window was coming loose, and I said, 'It's time to go,'" homeowner Ellen Miller said.

The family said they grabbed everything they could and moved it to the front lawn before their home crumbled into the 25-foot by 15-foot hole.

"We made it through the hurricane. We were really, really lucky, and then this," Miller said. "This is the only home I know. It's the only home my kids know."

The Millers will stay with their daughter next door while they figure out their next step.

>> Florida home partially swallowed by sinkhole

Although it’s not known if the sinkhole is related to Hurricane Irma, experts said sinkholes aren’t uncommon after hurricanes.

“When you have heavy rains, the chances of sinkholes (appearing goes) up quite a bit,” said Dr. Manoj Chopra, a UCF engineering professor.

He said sinkholes can form when the rain and floodwaters caused by hurricanes start to recede.

Sinkholes can happen suddenly. Miller said the hole under her home formed in a matter of hours.

“We watched it all night and it got bigger and deeper and finally, at 4 in the morning, I saw big deep cracks in the bathroom,” she said. 

Chopra expects more sinkholes to form throughout the state.

How to help Hurricane Maria victims: Where to donate, how to volunteer and more

After hitting the U.S. Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Maria plowed through Puerto Rico, flooding streets, collapsing homes and leaving the entire territory without power Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosseló called Hurricane Maria the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history.”

» RELATED: Hurricane Maria: Live updates

The dangerous hurricane is responsible for at least 15 deaths on the Caribbean island of Dominica alone, and, according to the National Hurricane Center, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are expected to see a “life-threatening” storm surge of 9 to 12 feet between Thursday and early next week.

» RELATED: Where is Hurricane Maria now? Track the massive storm as it heads north

How you can help the victims of Hurricane Maria

Make monetary donations

According to the United States Agency for International Development, giving money to reputable relief agencies and nonprofits is the most effective way to help and to avoid using resources to transport or deliver donated goods.

Here are some organizations to consider giving money to:

UNICEF (emergency relief and help for children affected)

Save the Children (emergency relief and help for children affected)

ConPRmetidos (Puerto Rico-based nonprofit to benefit “immediate needs of food, shelter, water” and more)

GlobalGiving Caribbean Hurricane Maria & Irma Relief Fund (from US-based nonprofit, Global Giving)

SPCA International (help for animal rescue and care)

» RELATED: How you can help Mexico and people affected by the Mexico earthquake

Other crowdfunding campaigns:

21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund (NBA star Tim Duncan hoping to raise $5 million for his home country)

Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund (bringing relief to Dominica)

Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Hurricane Relief Fund (to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes)

Check if your employer will match your donation

Doublethedonation.com has a nifty tool that lets you enter your company name to find out whether or not your employer offers a matching gift program for donations.

Donate blood

The American Red Cross urges volunteer blood donors to give blood year-round, not only at the time of disaster. Currently, platelets and type O blood donations are especially needed, according to the organization website.

Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to begin the donation process.

» RELATED: Disaster declared in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastates island

Donate goods

Monetary donations are preferred for most aid organizations, but refer to your local nonprofits to see if there is an additional need for goods donations.

If you’re in the Florida area, the Miami Herald has listed several donation spots for locals to bring non-perishable food, diapers, bottled water and clothing starting Friday.

» RELATED: NASA astronaut captures eerie images of Hurricane Irma’s destruction from space

Volunteer

The American Red Cross is looking to dispatch volunteers in the next few weeks to aid areas affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Local residents in affected areas should use this form.

All non-local residents interested in volunteering should use this separate form.

More information about volunteer expectations and requirements is at redcross.org.

Single Mother Fired For Missing Work During Hurricane Irma

Single Mother Fired For Missing Work During Hurricane Irma

Florida nurse fired for missing work during Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma hit Leesburg, Florida, hard, and resident Ami Honea's neighborhood has piles of debris to prove it. Just before the storm blew through, Honea said she made a decision that ended up costing her job.

"I did what I needed to do, for the safety of my children," Honea said.

>> Read more trending news

Honea worked as a nurse at the Lake County Jail, a place that can't just lock up and close during a hurricane. But she's a single mom with a 17-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. She has no family in Florida, so when Irma started barreling toward the state, she decided to take her kids to Atlanta.

The drive lasted 22 hours.

"They (the kids) would've been left here in this house by themselves, in the storm, with the winds the way it was, with trees knocked down, power lines snapping,” she said.

Honea said she told her boss she felt that her only option was to leave and that he never told her she would lose her job for it.

When she returned to work Monday, she was fired.

Attorney Kelli Hastings, who spoke to WFTV before the storm, said that because Florida is a right-to-work state, the termination is legal.

"There (are) no laws that protect an employee in that situation,” Hastings said.

Honea said the law isn’t fair to single parents.

"I think the laws need to be changed because, for single moms especially, what are we supposed to do during a disaster situation like that with our children?" she said.

Honea said she plans to get an attorney and take her fight for more leniency during natural disasters to lawmakers.

She said she would make the same decision to leave the state if she could do it over again.

“My kids are more important than my job,” she said.

WFTV contacted the privately contracted company that fired Honea, Armor Correctional Health Services, and was referred to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Officials with the Sheriff’s Office said they have nothing to do with the hiring or firing of the medical employees at the company.

Beyonce, Jay-Z hosting hurricane benefit concert, report says

Beyonce continues to give back to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.  

According to Us Weekly, the singer and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, are headlining a benefit concert for those affected by both hurricanes. The concert will reportedly be in New York.

>> Read more trending news

Last week, Beyonce participated in Hand in Hand, a telethon benefiting survivors of Hurricane Harvey that was telecast across multiple networks Sept. 12.

Before then, the singer returned to her hometown of Houston with her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, daughter Blue Ivy, and friend and former Destiny’s Child member, singer Michelle Williams. The trip was part of a relief effort with her BeyGood Foundation. Beyonce sponsored a luncheon and served survivors with her family.

Us Weekly reported that several artists from Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, are set to join the couple at the Barclay’s Center.

The benefit concert is set for Oct. 17 at Barclays Center, according to the report.

Tidal emailed the following statement in response to UsWeekly’s report:

“TIDAL will be hosting our annual benefit concert with details to soon follow. We have not announced or confirmed any line up or partner organizations, but stay tuned…”

Utility Worker Falls To His Death Restoring Power After Hurricane Irma

Utility Worker Falls To His Death Restoring Power After Hurricane Irma

Utility worker dies in fall while restoring power after Hurricane Irma

A utility employee working to restore power in South Florida after Hurricane Irma battered the state died early Sunday after he fell from the fifth floor of a parking garage, according to police.

>> Read more trending news

Scott Christopher Reid Jr., 26, fell from the garage at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale around 5:25 a.m. Sunday, WTVJ reported. He worked for T&D Solutions, a utility services company, according to the Highlands News-Sun.

Police are investigating his death.

In an obituary published by Florida’s Ponger-Kays-Grady Funeral Home, Reid was described as a “jokester” who liked to fish, ride 4-wheelers and root for the Florida Gators.

“He loved line work and his job,” the obituary said. “Chris also loved spending time with his family, especially his daughters.”

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

24-Pound Cat Finds New Forever Home

24-Pound Cat Finds New Forever Home

Baby Born During Hurricane Irma Found Dead In Mother's Car

Baby Born During Hurricane Irma Found Dead In Mother's Car

Photos: Hurricane Maria slams Caribbean

Hurricane Maria is bearing down on the Caribbean and is set to pass over much the same area devastated by Hurricane Irma.

24-pound cat gets new home, help to slim down after Irma

A sweet -- and very large -- feline could be classified as a Hurricane Irma victim, but instead she’ll probably become famous as she goes viral. 

Faye, weighing in at a whopping 24 pounds, was dropped off at the Jacksonville Humane Society in Jacksonville, Florida, and was put up for adoption Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

Facebook post about the cat went up Tuesday night and was shared more than 400 times by Wednesday. 

By Wednesday night, Faye had found a new home. 

Officials at the Jacksonville Humane Society wrote on Facebook that Faye’s new owner and her daughter drove two hours to adopt the cat. 

“Faye’s new mom was first in line when the doors opened,” the post read. “She will be the only pet in the home and will get lots and lots of love. They have promised to send pictures, too.”

According to the shelter, the 12-year-old cat is an attention hound and needs a loving home where her new owners will help her cut back on food and treats. 

“Faye loves attention and likes when you scratch right above her nubby tail,” shelter workers wrote in a post. “She will need a loving home to help her lose weight at a slow and steady pace outlined by our veterinarian.”

Faye was brought in after Hurricane Irma, but her owner contacted them before the storm for help, so shelter officials aren’t totally blaming the storm.

Those interested in adopting other pets at the North Florida shelter can visit the Jacksonville Humane Society website

Missed Comcast service from Irma? Here’s how to get a credit 

Want to request a credit from Comcast for missed Xfinity cable, internet and phone service due to Hurricane Irma?

The company has set up two ways to ask for it. Customers can either call its customer service line at

1-800-COMCAST or 1-800-266-2278 or fill out a short online form at xfinity.com/florida-form.

The online way is likely faster, since it doesn’t require customers to log in.

>> Read more trending news

Those without internet at home may be able to use their smartphone or find a place with available Wi-Fi. 

A Comcast employee will respond, and credits may take one to two billing cycles to be posted to your account, according to the company.

As of Monday, there were nearly 900,000 cable customers without service in Florida. That number includes a number of internet provider, not just Comcast. A Comcast spokeswoman said Tuesday that 97 percent of its customers have had their service restored.

AT&T’s U-verse cable service has also been hit hard by outages, but the company has been mum about whether they will offer credits. It’s not mentioned on AT&T’s Irma support page. When reached for comment about the issue last week, a spokeswoman never responded to Palm Beach Post.

“Unfortunately our equipment that services internet and TV took a hit,” a post on the AT&T support forum said. Due to the nature of the equipment, it can take time to replace or repair depending on the damaged caused by the water. Also power may not have been restored to our equipment as residential areas take priority. Just because you have power at your home, does not mean power has been restored in other areas that push the signal to your home.

“We do have many crews out there trying to restore service to get everyone back up. I know this is a stressful time for everyone out there. Please know that AT&T is doing what we can to help. “

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., asked the CEOs of America’s largest cell service and cable providers last week to waive late fees and issue rebates for victims of Irma. Hardly any of the companies responded.

Comcast is also waiving a variety of fees, including late payment fees, early termination fees and fees for equipment that has not been returned.

Baby born during Hurricane Irma found dead in mother’s car

The body of a baby born at 29 weeks gestation during Hurricane Irma was found days later in its mother’s car, according to Florida Department of Children and Families records.

>> Read more trending news

It’s unclear whether the infant was born alive, but DCF records indicate the infant died Sunday, Sept. 10, when Irma was felt most strongly in Palm Beach County.

At about 9 Thursday night — four days after the delivery — the mother went to St. Mary’s Medical Center for treatment, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. It’s unclear exactly why the woman went to St. Mary’s. When hospital staff learned about the delivery, they contacted the sheriff’s office’s special victims units.

The county’s Medical Examiner’s Office took the body, which state records indicate was found in the mother’s car. It is unclear where the mother is from or where in the county the car was.

The sheriff’s office will determine whether anyone will face criminal charges in the case after the Medical Examiner’s Office determines the cause of death.

DCF did not return calls for comment about the case by Wednesday afternoon.

At 29 weeks gestation, a baby weighs about three pounds and is about 16 inches long. Babies born that early often need time in an intensive care unit before going home. A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks.

That infant’s death is the 13th child death this year in Palm Beach County that the state is investigating. An infant died last month less than a day after he went to a hospital with breathing problems and was released with only eye drops.

>> Related: Florida’s first responders to child abuse overwhelmed by workload

DCF looks into child deaths that are called into the Florida Abuse Hotline and suspected to be the result of caregiver abuse, neglect or abandonment.

The last reported case of a newborn death in Palm Beach County through the hotline was in October 2015. The baby, born to a 17-year-old mother who didn’t know she was pregnant, was found unresponsive in a home after the mother was rushed to a hospital, state records indicate. The teen delivered the baby in a bathroom.

Firefighter hydrates distressed deer found in home after hurricane

After Hurricane Irma not only are the people of the Florida Keys in need of help, but also the wildlife. 

>> Read more trending news

A fire crew helping with the recovery efforts in the Keys stumbled upon a deer inside a damaged home, according to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners.

“I don't know who was more startled myself or the deer,” Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Fire Rescue Lt. Nicholas Johnson said. “It looked a little thirsty, but I couldn’t believe how many bottles of water it drank.”

The crew fed the deer four bottles before it ran away, according to the Monroe County BOCC.

Johnson explained that the storm surge “took out” a lot of the Keys freshwater supplies and the freshwater it has is “all mixed up with saltwater.” 

So, while Johnson, a trained responder, fed the animal bottled water, Monroe County BOCC tells residents not to do the same. The board is encouraging people to contact Florida Fish and Wildlife if they come across a deer in distress.

HITS 97.3 Brings YOUR Donations to the Florida Keys Post Hurricane Irma

Listeners from the New HITS 97.3 stopped by the station to donate 2 semi trucks full of goods for our Florida family in need. Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a category 4 storm and...

WATCH: Thousands of sea turtles rescued after Hurricane Irma, released back into wild

Thousands of baby sea turtles washed ashore along Florida’s coastline after Hurricane Irma pounded the state last week.

>> Read more trending news

The hatchlings were rescued and collected by South Florida residents, turtle rehabilitation programs and other groups. On Friday, more than 2,500 rescued turtles were released by Boca Raton’s Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials drove the state collecting rescued sea turtles from Palm Beach, Brevard, Broward counties and others, according to Gumbo Limbo.

The turtles were brought to Gumbo Limbo, then released by the staff in Boca Raton. They captured part of the release on video, which they shared on the center’s Facebook page.

All 2500-plus sea turtles returned to the "weed line" that provides their habitat for the first few years of their lives,” the nature center wrote on Facebook.

“Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is proud to have been a part of this massive effort to return the sea turtles affected by Hurricane Irma to the sea.”

>> Related: Boca Raton: After Irma, is it time to finally bury power lines?

Officers’ ‘It’-themed photo takes ‘hot cop’ challenge to scary new level

As law enforcement agencies across the country continued to post “hot cop” photos this week in attempts to best one another, one California police department upped its game to a spooky level.

The Lincoln Police Department on Friday posted a photo to Facebook that meshed the “hot cop” challenge started by Gainesville, Florida, officers during Hurricane Irma and the wildly successful big screen version of novelist Stephen King’s “It.” 

The photo shows four of its officers standing on a street, one of the officers is reaching down to the pavement. On the asphalt is a line of tasty-looking doughnuts leading to a nearby drainage culvert.

In the culvert is someone dressed as the villain in “It,” Pennywise the Clown. Nearby floats one of Pennywise’s trademark red balloons. 

The photo caption reads, “Ok, Gainesville had the ‘hot cops’ and Loudon had the ‘cop on a bucket,’ so the Lincoln (CA) Police Department decided to join the fun.”

“Clown: ‘Hey guys, I have donuts down here!’”

As the officer reaches for the first in the line of doughnuts, a colleague tries to pull him to clown-free safety.

As of Wednesday, the photo had been shared nearly 200,000 times and garnered about 171,000 reactions, all positive. The image also earned some jokes from commenters.

“But, like, is the clown hot?” one woman asked.

“Looks like a trap,” another commenter said. 

“With sprinkles!” one man added. 

“But why did they put perfectly good donuts on the ground?” another woman asked.

“Donut go down there!” one commenter warned. 

>> Read more trending news

The photo from the Lincoln police officers is the latest in a string of pictures challenging a selfie posted by Gainesville officers earlier this month as they prepared for a 12-hour shift at the height of Hurricane Irma. The photo, posted on Facebook, had commenters praising the officers’ looks and offering to be arrested to get closer to the men. 

The Gainesville photo was removed from Facebook after one of the officers, Officer Michael Hamill, came under fire for alleged anti-Semitic posts on his personal Facebook page. He has been suspended while the department investigates the claims. 

In the days since the Gainesville photo went viral, however, departments across the country have offered their own photos of their finest. On Tuesday, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in southeast Louisiana posted a photo of their finest looking K-9 officers.

“K-9s Hoss, Baretta and Mako wanted in on the #HotCop competition, but they hope to start a new hashtag: #HotDogs!” the caption read. 

In another post, Loudon, Tennessee, police officers pose for the camera. One particularly short officer stands on a bucket.

“Loudon Police Department Adam Squad. We ain’t pretty, but we get the job done,” the post reads.

The challenge has become so popular since the post by the Gainesville officers that it has spawned a Facebook page of its own, Hot Cop Challenge. The page had just over 1,000 followers as of Wednesday. 

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