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    Margarita Aponte and her relatives cleared the road in front of her house with two oxen Sunday, then drove an hour from her devastated hometown in central Puerto Rico to the old telegraph building in the capital of San Juan. There, thousands of Puerto Ricans gathered for a chance at a resource nearly as precious as power and water in the wake of Hurricane Maria — communication. 'It's ringing, it's ringing, it's ringing!' Aponte, a janitor, screamed as her phone connected to free Wi-Fi and her Facetime call went through to the mainland. Her eyes filled with tears as she talked with nephews, uncles, brothers and sisters in Florida and Massachusetts for the first time since Maria destroyed nearly every cellphone and fiber optic connection on this U.S. territory of 3.4 million people. The low murmur at one of two government-provided free Wi-Fi hotspots is occasionally interrupted by the cheering of someone getting through the largely jammed network. Most spend hours frowning at their phones, unable to connect. 'There's no communication. We're in God's hands,' Yesenia Gomez, a kitchen worker, said as she left a message for her mother in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Dozens of other Puerto Ricans opted to pull over to the side of the road along various highways where cellphone signals were strongest. Carlos Ocasio, a maintenance worker, picked his way through tree branches and broken glass bottles as he found a spot with a good signal. Soon, he was able to reach his brother in New Jersey. 'My throat got a little choked up and I couldn't talk for a minute,' he said. 'They're calling me from everywhere, asking when I'm going to arrive.' Others in Puerto Rico and abroad called a local radio station to provide names, numbers, exact addresses and pictures of their loved ones in hopes of reconnecting. But for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland, there has been only silence from the island. Shirley Rodriguez, a resident of New York's Brooklyn borough, said she has more than 30 relatives in Puerto Rico but she is especially concerned about her 66-year-old mother, Mildred Rodriguez, who has diabetes and pulmonary hypertension and lives in Hormigueros on the island's west coast. Rodriguez last spoke to her family before the storm and her relatives were planning on being together for it. Since then, calls to their cellphones have gone to voicemail. 'I'm absolutely numb at this point. It's a rollercoaster of emotion,' she said. 'Not knowing is extremely agonizing.' Her mother-in-law is in the San Juan area and somehow managed to connect with someone who works for the mayor of Hormigueros, who was able to tell Rodriguez that the area where her parents live escaped flooding. But she still doesn't know what the actual conditions are like. Some in Puerto Rico expressed anger over what they said was a lack of communication from cellphone providers about which towers were working so they could drive in that direction. 'They're not giving us any information,' said Ricardo Castellanos, a business consultant. 'We're in a state of emergency.' Castellanos visits the Wi-Fi hotspots twice a day to try to reach his two daughters in the central town of Gurabo and has been able to send a few pictures to friends on social media of the devastation the hurricane left behind. As people continued to search for a connection in silence, some occasionally spoke up to offer unsolicited advice. 'I didn't move my phone around, and I got a signal,' said one woman to a man complaining that he was in a dead zone. Nearby, retiree Sylvia Calero tapped her phone with impeccably manicured bright orange fingernails as she tried to reach three brothers and three grandchildren in the hard-hit coastal town of Aguadilla in northwest Puerto Rico. She spent an hour walking up and down the upscale Condado district unable to find a signal before driving to the free Wi-Fi hotspot. 'Zero communication,' she said. Leaning against a boarded-up window, illustrator Avalon Clare from Colorado worried about getting off the island. She and her partner were supposed to fly out of Puerto Rico on Saturday but the flight was canceled. It was rescheduled for Thursday, but Clare said she had no way to confirm whether that was still the case. 'The only think I can do is text,' she said. 'We're trying to leave because we can't work without internet ... We only have half a tank of gas. We're running out of cash. It's just getting harder.' Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress, urged people to remain calm, noting that the towers of one cellphone provider that had constant coverage after the hurricane collapsed Sunday. 'Don't become desperate,' she said, adding that if anyone was in danger, local officials would have been notified by now. Only about 25 percent of towers were working in the San Juan metro area. Cell service provider T-Mobile said it reached a deal with other providers to help reconnect their customers, saying callers should use the roaming data option to find a connection. Officials said customers would not be charged extra. Claro was installing 40 generators to power up its towers, and expected 50 more generators to arrive from the Dominican Republic once a ferry from the neighboring island is operational. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said a major underwater cable had been repaired, which would allow people to make long-distance calls and improve internet service. Two planes from Spain's telephone company also arrived over the weekend to help re-establish services. Persistence paid off for many who waited up to three hours to find a signal, including Wanda Nieves, a government worker who stood at one of the free Wi-Fi hotspots. She heard about it on the radio and drove 30 minutes to reach the site. Nieves spoke to family in Florida and Michigan and did not plan to return for more calls or messages. 'We've already given signs of life,' she said. 'Now we just wait for Puerto Rico to recover.' ___ Danica Coto on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danicacoto ___ Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela in New York contributed to this report.
  • Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City. Among the families of the missing, there are periodic moments when spirits lift. A flurry of activity, or relatives are summoned to the search site, raising hopes that someone has been found. But despair deepens when the work slows or even stops, when rain or an aftershock threatens the stability of the tottering pile, and as day after day passes without their loved ones emerging. For the family of Adrian Moreno, a missing 26-year-old human resources worker at an accounting firm, the emotional roller coaster is getting to be too much. Moreno's mother has a look of anguish and has largely stopped being able to speak. His boyfriend, Dario Hernandez, also looks lost, his gaze tear-stained and unfocused. 'Just hearing the earthquake alarm was horrible,' Hernandez said of a siren that rang during a 6.1 quake Saturday that was an aftershock of an even earlier and bigger temblor on Sept. 7. 'Something moves and ...' he said, his voice trailing away at the unspeakable thought the whole pile could suddenly collapse. 'There is a lot of nervousness, a lot of desperation. ... This is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life, the worst.' A total of 38 buildings in the Mexican capital — mostly apartment blocks or office buildings — collapsed in the Sept. 19 earthquake, and the first days saw a dramatic scramble with picks, shovels and bare hands to reach survivors. Mexican marines, the lead force in many of the rescue efforts, said they had recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people alive from buildings toppled by the quake, which has killed 319 people including 181 in the capital alone, according to the latest death toll announced Sunday. Thousands more have been left homeless because their houses or apartment buildings, while still standing, have been rendered too dangerous to remain. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera reported that 7,649 properties have been examined and 87 percent of those are safe and require only minor repairs. But that means about 1,000 left standing have been deemed uninhabitable — and the number seemed likely to rise as more are inspected. Mancera also said Saturday night on Twitter that nearly 17,000 people have been 'attended to' at 48 shelters, though it's not clear how many of those are being housed there. Many are bunking with family or friends. One by one the searches have closed down in recent days, after sniffer dogs were sent in and didn't find life and thermal imaging devices turned up no body heat signatures. Then heavy machinery moved in to begin removing the mountains of debris. Empty lots began to appear where just days ago a building stood. Now hopes were focused solely on concrete slabs at two sites: the former office block in the Roma Norte neighborhood, where around 40 people were believed to be missing, and an apartment building on the south side where searchers were looking for five people. At the latter site, members of a Japanese search and rescue team pulled a small white dog from the rubble alive Sunday afternoon, cradling and petting it as they brought it down. Expert search teams that flew in from other countries including the United States and Israel have worked alongside their Mexican counterparts this week to help tunnel, measure and direct the removal of chunks of concrete. At the Roma Norte site, after Saturday's aftershock passed, work began again, grim, controlled, purposeful. An enormous crane lifted huge chunks of concrete slab. Previously rescuers carved reinforced vertical tunnels into the heart of the wreckage, and from there crawled into the narrow, claustrophobic horizontal spaces left between the collapsed floors. Work stopped again for about an hour Sunday afternoon after the mound of debris shifted, resuming after experts checked the pile for stability. The last time someone was found alive was Wednesday, when a woman was pulled from the rubble. A couple of bodies were found Friday. Volunteer rescue worker Johny Yebra said the smell of death was now heavy directly atop the rubble heap, and by Sunday afternoon, occasional gusts of wind were blowing it outside the immediate search site. 'All of us are doing the most we can,' Yebra said. Beyond the barricades and the ring of floodlights that lit the area overnight lay a makeshift collection of tents and tarps where anxious family members have endured rain, cold, grief and sleeplessness. 'It has been many days. Four, five ... we can only wait and bear what happens,' said Enrique de Luna, the uncle of another missing man, Said Guzman. As the names of the confirmed dead trickled in, one by one, their relatives have been packing up their tents and going away. That happened Saturday with the family next to Moreno's. They didn't say a word as they left weeping, and nobody had the courage to ask them what news they had received. Everyone was even more on edge Sunday as rescuers told families they were going to lift a large slab that could reveal some information about anyone inside. 'We are very nervous. They're going to remove the last rock in there,' said Dario Hernandez, Adrian Moreno's friend. Some fell silent and didn't want to talk anymore. Next to a tent someone had strung up a canvas sign: 'Adrian, you are a warrior. Your family, your friends and Dario are waiting for you.' ___ Associated Press writer Peter Orsi contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on France's Senate election (all times local): 7:40 p.m. Partial official results show France's conservatives on track to keep their majority in the Senate, with President Emmanuel Macron's party trailing as his popularity suffers. Interior Ministry results after Sunday's vote showed the conservative Republicans keeping most of their seats and gaining a few. A senator from Macron's Republic on the Move! party said it came in third place. Around half of the 348 Senate seats were up for grabs in Sunday's vote. Senators are not chosen by public vote, but by elected officials. French broadcasters' projections say the conservatives will have between 146 and 156 seats overall after Sunday's vote, with around 22 for Macron's party, which was only created last year. The results damage Macron's legitimacy but should not prevent him from passing key promised changes to France's economy because the conservatives back them too. ___ 9:30 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron's unconventional political party is fighting to make its mark on the Senate in an election Sunday for half the seats in the upper house — but the results are likely to reflect mounting disenchantment with Macron's leadership. His centrist Republic on the Move! party, created just last year, won a large majority in the lower house of parliament in June elections, but is unlikely to do the same in the Senate. Polls suggest the conservative Republicans party will consolidate its dominance of the chamber's 348 seats instead. Macron's party is likely to seek alliances in the Senate with other centrists and moderate Republicans and Socialists to approve his business-friendly economic reforms. The senators are not chosen by the public but by some 75,000 elected officials — mayors, legislators, regional and local councilors. Nearly 2,000 candidates are running for 171 Senate seats. It's the first time Macron's party is competing in a Senate election since he created it to shake up French politics.
  • Pope Francis' committee of advisers on protecting children from sexually abusive priests is expanding its workload to include the needs and rights of children fathered by Roman Catholic priests. Committee members told The Associated Press on Sunday that a working group is looking into developing guidelines that can be used by dioceses around the world to ensure that children born to priests are adequately cared for. 'It's a horrendous problem in many cultures, and it's not something that is readily talked about,' commission member Dr. Krysten Winter-Green said. Indeed, the issue is one the church has tried to keep under wraps for centuries, because of the perceived scandal of priests having sex. But it has gained visibility after Irish bishops developed and published a set of guidelines earlier this year that focused on ensuring the wellbeing of the priest's child and the child's mother, who often suffer psychological problems from the stigma and silence imposed on them by the church. The Irish guidelines were believed to represent the first comprehensive public policy by a national bishops' conference on the issue. They have already become a model of sorts: The Union of Superiors General — an umbrella group of male religious orders — has sent the Irish guidelines to their members to apply, and the International Union of Superiors General, the female umbrella group, is expected to endorse them at a November assembly, said Vincent Doyle, a lead campaigner on the issue. Commission member Bill Kilgallon briefed Francis on the decision of the working group to take up the issue of priests' children during an audience last week. Kilgallon told the AP that the issue falls squarely under the broad mandate of the commission, which is officially known as the 'Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors' and has as its mission the aim of promoting and protecting the dignity of minors and vulnerable adults. 'If someone fathers a child, they have a responsibility to that child, end of story,' Kilgallon said. The issue has been placed on the church's agenda in large part thanks to a campaign by Doyle, an Irish psychotherapist who discovered late in life that his father was a priest. With the backing of the archbishop of Dublin, Doyle launched Coping International, an online self-help resource to help eliminate the stigma he and others like him have faced, and educate them and the church about the emotional and psychological problems that some children suffer. They can include depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, as well as social isolation and financial hardship. There are no figures about the number of children fathered by Catholic priests. But there are about 450,000 Catholic priests in the world and the Catholic Church forbids artificial contraception and abortion. Doyle said Sunday he was pleased that the issue was now on the agenda of the pope's advisory commission, and said there is a very real connection between the children of priests and victims of sexual abuse: He said many of the mothers in question were raped as girls or teens by priests, and are therefore themselves victims of sexual abuse. 'It's not always 'The Thorn Birds,'' Doyle said of the classic story of young woman's love for the family priest. 'More often than not, there's rape and pedophilia involved.
  • The latest on Mexico's earthquake (all times local): 5:30 p.m. Half of the cupola of an historic church in Mexico City has fallen after sustaining damage during the magnitude 7.1 quake that hit central Mexico this week. The dome of the Our Lady of Angels church featuring stained glass from Germany split in two and half collapsed Sunday afternoon. The cupola was left with severe cracks after Tuesday's quake and engineers had told church leaders it was likely to collapse. According to the Archdiocese of Mexico, more than 150 religious buildings in central Mexico were damaged during Tuesday's quake. Most of that damage occurred in Puebla state, where the quake was centered. ___ 5 p.m. Neighbors and residents of a collapsed apartment building on the south side of Mexico City have obtained an injunction from a judge that says rescue efforts must continue for five more days. A spokesman for the building's residents and neighbors said Sunday that the injunction was obtained Saturday night, so four days remain. Spokesman Isaac Garcia says the injunction was a precautionary measure to make sure the search continues at the site wrecked by Tuesday's earthquake. He says residents and neighbors have maintained a good relationship with the navy and civil defense authorities running the search operation at the site. But, Garcia says, 'We wanted to make sure that we had something based in law to protect us.' He says residents will re-evaluate on the fourth day to decide whether to seek an extension. Arguing there is still a chance of survivors, Garcia says a team of Japanese searchers extracted a small dog alive from the pile of rubble at midafternoon Sunday. ___ 3:50 p.m. Rescuers have temporarily evacuated from the wreckage of a seven-story office building in Mexico City that collapsed in Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake. The Sunday afternoon evacuation was carried out because the pile of rubble shifted. Capt. Juan Carlos Penas of the rescue team says they will now have to conduct tests and measurements to determine whether it is stable. The work stoppage comes at a critical moment on the sixth day of rescue efforts as the clock is ticking for anyone trapped inside. Rescuers are trying to access a part of the wreckage where they believe there may be a survivor and introduce a camera to check. The collapse site in the Roma Norte neighborhood is one of a dwindling number where crews still have hopes of finding people alive. As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll stands at 319 including 181 in Mexico City. ___ 3:25 p.m. Rescuers have pulled a small dog alive from the rubble of a building that collapsed in Mexico City after Tuesday's deadly earthquake. Images broadcast on Milenio TV show helmeted members of a Japanese search and rescue team cradling the white dog and petting its head as they bring it down from the wreckage. The rescue took place at an apartment building in a southern neighborhood of the capital. It's one of a dwindling number of collapse sites where crews still have hopes of finding people alive. As of Sunday afternoon, the death toll stands at 319, including 181 in Mexico City. ___ 11:45 a.m. Mexican authorities say the death toll from Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake is continuing to grow. It now stands at 319, with more than half of those in the capital. Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente reported Sunday on Twitter that 181 people died in Mexico City. There were also 73 deaths in Morelos state, 45 in Puebla, 13 in the State of Mexico, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca. ___ 10:25 a.m. Mexican authorities say the death toll from Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake has reached 318, with more than half of those in the capital. Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente reported Sunday morning on Twitter that 180 people died in the capital. There were also 73 deaths in Morelos state, 45 in Puebla, 13 in the State of Mexico, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.
  • Iraq's central government in Baghdad ordered the country's Kurdish region to hand over all border crossings and airports to federal government control late Sunday night, hours before the region is set to carry out a controversial referendum on support for independence. The referendum is set to be held Monday in the three provinces that make up the Kurdistan region as well as dozens of towns and villages that are disputed, claimed by both Baghdad and the country's Kurds, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi government 'requests neighboring counties and the countries of the world to deal with the Iraqi federal government exclusively (with regards to) ports and oil,' read a statement from the prime minister's national security council released Sunday night. Earlier Sunday, the Kurdish region's president Masoud Barzani pledged the vote would be held despite pressure from Baghdad and the international community. He said that while the referendum will be the first step in a long process to negotiate independence, the region's 'partnership' with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad is over. Barzani detailed the abuses Iraq's Kurds have faced by Iraqi forces, including killings at the hands of former leader Saddam Hussein's army that left more than 50,000 Kurds dead. 'Only through independence can we secure a future where we will not have the past atrocities,' he said. Pressure from Baghdad and the international community to call off the referendum has mounted over the past week. In an address on state television Sunday evening, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi repeated his call for the vote to be canceled. 'The map of Iraq is suffering attempts at division and tearing up of a united Iraq. Discrimination between Iraqi citizens on the nationalist and ethnic foundation exposes Iraq to dangers known only by God,' al-Abadi said from Baghdad. Baghdad, the United States and the United Nations have all voiced strong opposition to the vote, warning it could further destabilize the region as Iraqi and Kurdish forces continue to battle the Islamic State group. Turkey renewed a bill on Saturday allowing the military to intervene in Iraq and Syria if faced with national security threats, a move seen as a final warning to Iraqi Kurds. Also Sunday, Iran closed its airspace to flights taking off from Iraq's Kurdish region following a request from Baghdad. Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard also launched a military exercise in its northwestern Kurdish region, in a sign of Tehran's concerns over the vote. Iranian Kurdish lawmakers condemned the independence referendum in a statement Sunday and insisted that Iraq maintain its territorial integrity, reported Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. At the Irbil press conference, Barzani said he was unaware that Iran had closed its airspace, but that it was Iran's 'own decision.' The leader also confirmed that there had been shelling along Iran's border with the Kurdish region. Barzani addressed concerns that Turkey would shut its border with the Kurdish region following the vote, saying he hoped Turkey would leave the crossing open. 'There will be no benefit for either side,' he said of potential border closures. Despite fears in disputed territories — Iraqi territory claimed by both the Kurds and Baghdad — Barzani said he didn't expect violence to follow the vote, explaining that Iraq's military and the Kurdish fighters known as the peshmerga have 'good coordination in the war against terror.' The peshmerga forces have been instructed not to respond to 'provocations,' in Kirkuk, Barzani added. Associated Press writer Susannah George in Irbil, Iraq, and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.
  • Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress said Sunday that Hurricane Maria's destruction has set the island back decades, even as authorities worked to assess the extent of the damage. 'The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years,' said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez. 'I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone.' Engineers on Sunday planned to inspect the roughly 90-year-old Guajataca Dam, which holds back a reservoir covering about 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) in northwest Puerto Rico. The government said it suffered a large crack after Maria dumped 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) of rain on the surrounding mountains and that it 'will collapse at any minute.' Nearby residents had been evacuated, but began returning to their homes Saturday after a spillway eased pressure on the dam. Puerto Rico's National Guard diverted an oil tanker that broke free and threatened to crash into the southeast coast, said Gov. Ricardo Rossello, and officials still had not had communication with nine of 78 municipalities. 'This is a major disaster,' he said. 'We've had extensive damage. This is going to take some time.' The death toll from Maria in Puerto Rico was at least 10, including two police officers who drowned in floodwaters in the western town of Aguada. That number was expected to climb as officials from remote towns continued to check in with officials in San Juan. Authorities in the town of Vega Alta on the north coast said they had been unable to reach an entire neighborhood called Fatima, and were particularly worried about residents of a nursing home. Across the Caribbean, Maria had claimed at least 31 lives, including at least 15 on hard-hit Dominica. Mike Hyland, a spokesman for the American Public Power Association, which represents the Puerto Rican power agency, said Sunday that restoration is a long ways off. The organization is working with U.S. Energy Department crews as well as New York Power Authority workers sent down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fly over the island and assess damage. Crews hoped to get helicopters and drones in the air over the next two days to assess the damage, but Hyland said they need to be patient and let the military continue rescuing people before focusing on restoring power. 'We are trying to get an understanding of the extent of the damage over the next 48 hours to then begin to work with our federal partners to get the right crews and equipment down to Puerto Rico,' Hyland said. Large amounts of federal aid have begun moving into Puerto Rico, welcomed by local officials who praised the Trump administration's response but called for the emergency loosening of rules long blamed for condemning the U.S. territory to second-class status. The opening of the island's main port in the capital allowed 11 ships to bring in 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food. Dozens more shipments are expected in upcoming days. The federal aid effort is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is in charge of the relief effort, said they would take satellite phones to all of Puerto Rico's towns and cities, more than half of which were cut off following Maria's devastating crossing of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. The island's infrastructure was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. A $73 billion debt crisis has left agencies like the state power company broke. As a result the power company abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts. A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico's finances authorized up to $1 billion in local funds to be used for hurricane response, but the governor said he would ask for more. 'We're going to request waivers and other mechanisms so Puerto Rico can respond to this crisis,' Rossello said. 'Puerto Rico will practically collect no taxes in the next month.' U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York said she will request a one-year waiver from the Jones Act, a federal law blamed for driving up prices on Puerto Rico by requiring cargo shipments there to move only on U.S. vessels as a means of supporting the U.S. maritime industry. 'We will use all our resources,' Velazquez said. 'We need to make Puerto Rico whole again. These are American citizens.' A group of anxious mayors traveled to the capital to meet with Rossello to present a long list of items they urgently need. The north coastal town of Manati had run out of fuel and fresh water, Mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez said. 'Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It's at capacity,' he said, crying. 'We need someone to help us immediately.' Across Puerto Rico, more than 15,000 people were in shelters, including some 2,000 rescued from the north coastal town of Toa Baja. Many Puerto Ricans planned to head to the mainland to temporarily escape the devastation. ___ AP reporter Christopher Gillette contributed from Guajataca, Puerto Rico.
  • Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard has displayed the country's sophisticated Russian-made S-300 air defense system in central Tehran. This is the first time that the S-300 air defense system has been displayed in public. The public show in Tehran's Baharestan square near the Parliament building square exhibited different missile systems, including ballistic missiles, solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missiles and the liquid-fuel Ghadr. The IRGC prepared the show for the annual Defense Week, marking the 37th anniversary of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. U.S. President Donald Trump signed in August a bill imposing mandatory penalties on those involved in Iran's controversial ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.
  • The massive exodus of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar to escape brutal persecution appears to have slowed down, but several recent refugees say at least tens of thousands more are huddled near beaches or in forests waiting to escape. Some Rohingya who have fled over the last week said Myanmar army soldiers were shooting at those trying to flee to Bangladesh. Others said thousands were stuck in Myanmar because most boatmen had made the crossing to safety themselves and soldiers had burned many of the boats that remained. Over the last month, an estimated 430,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh as their homes and villages were set on fire by mobs of soldiers and Buddhist monks. They have brought with them accounts of soldiers spraying their villages with gunfire. In the first three weeks of the latest convulsion of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, tens of thousands of Rohingya poured into Bangladesh each day, walking for days through forests or taking rickety wooden boats on the rain-swollen Naf River. Many crossed into the country via the thin sliver of the Bay of Bengal that separates Myanmar from Bangladesh. But Associated Press journalists have seen only a handful of people enter by land or sea at a few border crossings over the last week. However, there are several crossing points on the border between the two countries where Rohingya have entered over the last month, making it impossible to verify how many people enter Bangladesh each day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, also noted that the number of incoming Rohingya appeared to have dipped. One man who fled Myanmar, Syed Noor, said Sunday that tens of thousands of Rohingya were waiting at border points in Myanmar desperately trying to escape. Noor and his family had fled overnight into Bangladesh. Noor said other people from his village and other villages near the Rakhine town of Buthidaung were hiding in forests near the Naf River. 'They are stuck in one place because the Myanmar army is shooting at us,' said Noor, exhausted and groaning in pain. His excruciating journey took nine days and he said there was no food to be had for the last four days. At first, the Myanmar army was targeting people and shooting at them and asking them to leave their villages, but now that the terrified villagers were hiding in the forests 'they are firing in the air to scare us,' Noor said. 'The people are scared to move. They are in a jungle near the river,' he said. Last week, two other men who made the crossing said similar things. Nur Karim, who crossed on foot Friday, said Myanmar soldiers fired on him and his family as they attempted to cross into Bangladesh. In the chaotic scene that followed, his wife and daughter were separated from him. On Thursday, only three men had arrived at Shah Porir Dwip, the main coastal arrival point for refugees arriving in boats. The three came on a tiny wooden boat and said Myanmar soldiers were shooting at those trying to flee. 'The Myanmar army is not letting them go,' said Mohammar Amir, one of the three who got away. 'But anyone who gets the chance escapes.' Nur Islam, the imam of the main mosque at Shah Porir Dwip, also said the number of boats arriving there had dropped. A few small boats were still coming, making the already risky voyage even more dangerous by arriving at night or at dawn. Maj. Kazi Obaidur Reza of Border Guards Bangladesh, the paramilitary force that guards the nation's borders, said it appeared that most of the villages in Rakhine state were vacant of their Rohingya Muslim residents. The Myanmar army was repairing the broken barbed wire fencing across many parts of the border, he said, adding that the repair work suggested that there were no Rohingya Muslims left to flee. Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Sunday that the agency's access in northern Rakhine state was limited. 'The information that we have is very patchy. But we know that there are people on the other side and under pressure and we know that there people who are displaced internally,' he said, adding that 'we don't know what will happen next. We have to be ready for large figures.' He said the exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh is 'the most urgent refugee emergency in the world' right now. 'I was struck by the incredible magnitude of their needs. They need everything. They need food, they need clean water, they need shelter, they need proper health care,' Grandi told reporters in the Bangladeshi town of Cox's Bazar. Myanmar's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a nationally televised speech last week that military operations in the troubled areas had ceased a few weeks ago. She also said the 'great majority' of Muslims within the conflict zone were still in their villages and that 'more than 50 percent of their villages were intact.' But Amnesty International said as recently as Friday that fresh fires continued in Rakhine and that satellite and video images showed smoke rising from Muslim villages. Rohingya have faced persecution and discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar for decades and are denied citizenship, even though they have lived there for generations. The government says there is no such ethnicity as Rohingya and that they are Bengalis who illegally migrated to Myanmar from Bangladesh. ___ Associated Press journalists Bernat Armangue and Dar Yasin contributed to this report.
  • Saudi Arabia is celebrating its National Day with an array of family-friendly festivities, including allowing women to enter the main stadium in the capital, Riyadh, for the first time, to see a performance recounting the country's founding 87 years ago. The King Fahd stadium has previously been reserved for male-only crowds to watch soccer matches. The kingdom has planned several days of festivities starting Saturday to whip up patriotism amid tensions over austerity measures, the arrest of prominent figures, a diplomatic standoff with Qatar and war in Yemen. Skyscrapers have been lit green in the color of Saudi Arabia's flag and adorned with towering images of King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was named heir in June.

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  • Ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens kicking off in London this year, a big focus was not just what players would do on the field, but what would happen on the sidelines.  In recent days, President Trump has spoken out in person and on Twitter about athletes who kneel during the National Anthem. He has said the NFL should fire players who take part in this demonstration, and expanded the criticism to athletes in other sports as well.  VIDEO: President Trump speaks on athletes who kneel during National Anthem Kneeling during the National Anthem was first done by Colin Kaepernick, with the then-quarterback saying it was in protest of the treatment of black people by police. Since his first demonstration, more athletes have continually joined in, but there was a heightened attention heading in to today’s game, because of the President’s comments.  About a dozen athletes from each team took a knee during the National Anthem ahead of kickoff in London. Their arms were linked, as were those of the athletes, coaches, and staff who remained standing. Among those linked in arms along the sideline was Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who says his presence was very intentional  “It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation,” says the full statement issued by the team on behalf of Khan.  The team also posted on social media with a photo of Khan and Head Coach Doug Marrone linked arms with players, with the caption saying only “Unity”.  Khan joins a growing list of team owners and organizations that are supporting the players and their demonstrations. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Twitter that they would aid a “Unity” spot called “Inside These Lines” during Sunday night’s game, and that “it reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs”. Head Coach Doug Marrone, in his post-game press conference, said there was a lot of coordination ahead of time among the entire organization, and that he stands behind Khan’s statement. “I’m just trying to make sure this team sticks together. It’s an unusual situation, one I’ve never- there’s no book that tells you how to do it. But I think the way we handled it- at least from my standpoint I can speak from a head coach- at least there was a lot of communication, there was a lot of talking, and at the end of the day our team is going to be closer together for it,” Marrone says. The Jaguars went on to win the game 44-7 over the Ravens. The NFL UK says the game was played in front of a record crowd. Neither the Jaguars nor the Ravens knelt during the playing of the British National Anthem.  The owner of the Ravens respects and supports the demonstration by the players “100 percent”, according to a statement issued by the team. The statement says “all voices need to be heard”, and “that’s democracy in its highest form”. President Trump tweeted and retweeted several times through Sunday about the demonstrations.
  • As rescue workers tirelessly searched and the world waited breathlessly for them to find a 12-year-old girl believed to be trapped under the rubble of a caved-in school toppled by the devastating earthquake in Mexico City, it became apparent that the little girl never existed, Mexican officials said. >> PHOTOS: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City According to the New York Post, the girl, called “Frida Sofia,” was a case of a story that ran wild in the frantic aftermath of the disaster. >> How you can help Mexico and people affected by the Mexico earthquake “We are certain that it was not an actuality,” Adm. Angel Enrique Sarmiento, assistant secretary of the Mexican navy, told local paper El Universal. “We don’t have any knowledge, we never had any knowledge of the account.” >> Frida, the hero rescue dog, saves 12 following Mexico earthquake In the face of unimaginable destruction and hundreds killed, the story took on a life of its own as a symbol of much-needed help. A report first surfaced Wednesday that a little girl had signaled to rescuers from under the rubble of the Enrique Rebsámen school. >> On Rare.us: A family is devastated after this baptism turned tragic during the Mexican earthquake From that report came a series of details that included the girl’s name and age, and even reports of communication with the girl. Rescuers said they managed to slide a hose to her for her to drink, and other workers told MSNBC that they handed the little girl a phone and that she reported two other children were trapped with her under a granite table. >> On Rare.us: Salma Hayek generously pledges $100,000 to Mexican earthquake victims However, no parents came to claim the girl, which led some to believe she was misidentified. And, then Thursday, Sarmiento announced that after 11 children had been rescued, and 19 other children, plus six adults found dead, there were no other children beneath the collapsed school. >> Read more trending news “We have carried out a full count with the directors of the school, and we are sure that all the children are either safe at home, in the hospital or, unfortunately, died,” Sarmiento said.
  • Many First Coast counties are hosting workshops to get  you one-on-one assistance in applying for FEMA assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Some of the counties will announce more workshop days in the future as well. If you do not need assistance in person, you can go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. Get help: How to register through FEMA DUVAL COUNTY Workshops Tuesday, September 19th: 8:00am to 6:00pm, at the Prime Osborne Convention Center on 1000 Water Street. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, in partnership with Senator Marco Rubio, is holding insurance villages and disaster recovery centers. In addition to Senator Marco Rubio’s staff and those participating from the Department of Financial Services, the following companies, non-profit organizations, and federal and state agencies have confirmed:   • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  • American Red Cross  • Florida SBDC Network  • U.S. Small Business Administration  • Florida Departments of Children and Families and Economic Opportunity  • First Data Corporation  • Anheuser-Busch Companies  • CareerSource Florida  • ElderSource  • United Way of Florida  • The Salvation Army The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the opening of a Business Recovery Centers (BRC) in Duval County, to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma.  SBA representatives at the Centers can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. The Center will operate until further notice from 9AM to 6PM Monday through Saturday at Beaver Street Enterprise Center, 728 Blanche St, Bldg 2. A Mobile Registration Intake Center has been set up by Matthew’s Restaurant in San Marco. At an MRIC, you can inquire about the status of your application for individual assistance or register for individual assistance. This is difference from a Disaster Recovery Center, because it does not also feature other partner agencies, including non-profits, on site. There is no set time frame for how long the MRIC will be open. Saturday, September 16: Council Members Katrina Brown, Reggie Gaffney, & Reggie Brown are hosting Hurricane Disaster Relief Assistance from 10AM to 2PM at the Bradham-Brooks Library, 1755 Edgewood Avenue W. You will get assistance registering for FEMA benefits. You should have information available regarding your Social Security number, address of the damaged home or apartment, description of the damage, information about insurance coverage, telephone number, mailing address, and bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit. Saturday, September 16: Council Member Joyce Morgan, the Arlington 20/20 initiative, churches and other community partners will provide hurricane relief assistance from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Town and Country Shopping Center on University Boulevard at the Arlington Expressway. Relief supplies (water, ice, cleaning supplies, household items, etc.) will be available, along with volunteer assistance with yard cleanups and information about disaster recovery resources. CLAY COUNTYRecovery Center A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center is opening Sunday at 1:30PM, at the Clay County Fairgrounds, building 3- 2497 State Road 16, Green Cove Springs. This center is open from 8AM to 8PM every day beginning Monday, September 25th, offering you in person support and assistance for both individuals and businesses. That includes helping you register for federal disaster assistance, applying for Small Business Administration loans, giving you updates on your specific case, processing appeals, and connecting you with state program information. Workshops FEMA representatives will be available to assist Clay County residents from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the following dates/locations. You should bring information about your social security number, the name of your insurance company, description of damage, income and other financial information, and contact information. The Salvation Army will be providing meals on site.  -Saturday, Sept. 16, Orange Park Library, 2054 Plainfield Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073 -Sunday, Sept. 17, Keystone Heights City Hall, 555 S Lawrence Blvd, Keystone Heights, FL 32656 -Monday, Sept. 18, FEMA Team will be canvasing the area for additional impacted areas -Tuesday, Sept. 19, Fleming Island Library, 1895 Town Center Blvd, Orange Park, FL 32003 -Wednesday, Sept. 20 – FEMA Team will be canvasing the area for additional impacted areas -Thursday, Sept. 21, Supervisor of Elections Office, 500 N Orange Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043 Hurricane Irma  Resource Recovery Event Friday, September 22, 4-7PM at Middleburg Civic Association at 2102 Palmetto St, Middleburg. Representatives from the following agencies will attend: • FEMA - answer questions on the registration process • Clay County Board of County Commissioners • Clay County Building Department – Permitting and processes to get back in my home • Clay County Health Department – speaking on well testing, mold exposure, special needs • University of Florida’s IFAS – mosquito control, etc. • Clay Safety Net – Unmet needs • Northeast Florida Builders Association – working with licensed contractors, what to do with mold, etc. • Small Business Development Center – working with small businesses to recover ST. JOHNS COUNTY Recovery Center A Disaster Recovery Center will operate at the St. Johns Wind Mitigation Building at 3111 Agricultural Center Drive 8AM to 8PM seven days a week. The Center will be open for the immediate future. This will serve as a one-stop-shop for anyone seeking one-on-one help, including access to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, DEMA, the US Small Business Administration, and other state agencies. You can get more information from the Emergency Operations Center hotline at 904-824-5550. Workshops Monday, September 18th:  St. Johns County and Senator Marco Rubio are hosting a Disaster Recovery Center event for residents affected by Hurricane Irma from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. Johns County Administration Building, 500 San Sebastian View. Representatives from FEMA, insurance agencies, and other state, federal, and local entities will be available to answer questions and provide needed hurricane recovery assistance and information. For more information regarding Hurricane Irma recovery and response, please visit www.sjcfl.us/hurricane or call the St. Johns County Emergency Management hotline at 904.824.5550. In addition to Senator Marco Rubio’s staff and those participating from the Department of Financial Services, the following companies, non-profit organizations, and federal and state agencies have confirmed:   • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)  • American Red Cross  • Florida SBDC Network  • U.S. Small Business Administration  • Florida Departments of Children and Families and Economic Opportunity  • First Data Corporation  • Anheuser-Busch Companies  • CareerSource Florida  • ElderSource  • United Way of Florida  • The Salvation Army Baker County Workshops Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s staff will be in Baker County Wednesday 9/20 to help people register with FEMA. The event will take place from 2-4PM at the Baker County Administration Building, 55 North 3rd Street, Macclenny. Nassau County Resources Friday, September 22- Disaster Survival Assistance Teams will be arriving in Nassau County. The teams will be doing door-to-door canvassing of areas affected by Hurricane Irma, and Nassau County Emergency Management will post information on the specific areas as that is available. They will provide information directly to survivors on how to register for FEMA disaster aid and other things. These DSAT members will have identification. If you are not sure if the person who contacts you is a legitimate DSAT representative, you can call the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 904-225-5174.
  • WOKV will continue updating this list of cancellations, closures/openings, and resources for you in connection to Hurricane Irma as new information comes in. This list represents Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties. POST-STORM RESOURCES In Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties, if your home has suffered damage, you can apply for individual assistance. To register online, go to www.disasterassistance.gov. To register by phone, 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) Several resource and recovery centers are opening across the First Coast if you need help registering with FEMA. Locations can be found here. The U.S. Small Business Administration has added more counties to the disaster declaration in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017. Eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Duval, Clay, and St. Johns. Eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Baker and Nassau counties. St. Johns County has opened four water distribution points: SJC Parks and Recreation Administration Office at 2175 Mizell Road (THIS ONE IS NOW CLOSED), the Solomon Calhoun Community Center at 1300 Duval Street, Flagler Estates Road and Water Office at 9850 Light Avenue, and Al Wilke Park at 6150 South Main Street (THIS ONE IS NOW CLOSED). They will be open daily 8am-7pm through Friday. Limit one case of water per car. The City of Jacksonville is distributing water from 10AM to 5PM while supplies last at Hobby Lobby, 14286 Beach Blvd; McDonalds, 5751 Beach Blvd; Edwaters College, 1853 Kings Road; and the Supervisor of Elections Office, 1 Imeson Park Blvd. The Prime Osborne Convention Center, 1000 Water Street, is opening its doors to help people seeking to cool off with some air conditioning and access to electricity and internet. You need to bring your own equipment. The Center will be open 3PM to 9PM Wednesday and 9AM to 9PM Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17. St. Johns County has opened a post-impact shelter at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center at 1300 Duval Street (THIS SHELTER IS NOW CLOSED). This is for anyone who can’t return to his or her home. All other shelters are now closed. THESE SHELTERS ARE NOW CLOSED---In Nassau County, there is a shelter at The Journey Church at 95707 Amelia Concourse, Fernandina Beach. The facility has special needs capabilities and is pet friendly. A second shelter has also opened at the First Baptist Church in Hilliard. In Duval County, The Legends Center, 5054 Soutel Drive, remains open as a general population shelter, but is now closed as a special needs shelter (THIS SHELTER IS NOW CLOSED). Southside Baptist Church, 1936 Hendricks Avenue, is open as a general population shelter. THIS SHELTER IS NOW CLOSED---The Baker County Family Service Center by Keller Intermediate School, 420 8th Street in Macclenny, remains open as a general population shelter. Clay County has opened a post-storm shelter at First Baptist Church Middleburg, 2645 Blanding Blvd. FEMA has issued an Individual Assistance Declaration for St. Johns County in response to damage incurred due to Hurricane Irma. To apply for individual assistance, please visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800.621.3362. The Nassau County Emergency Operations Center is providing free water for residents to pick up at the Callahan Fairgrounds. St. Johns County is offering a limited number of free tarps for residents with homes affected by Hurricane Irma. Tarp sizes include 20’ x 30’ or 30’ x 40’ and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the St. Johns County Health and Human Services Building, 200 San Sebastian View. Please call 904.209.1250 in advance to request a tarp that can be picked up at the Health and Human Services Building during standard business hours. At Governor Scott’s direction, the Florida Highway Patrol continues to escort fuel resupply trucks so fuel is quickly delivered to communities across Florida. In an effort to best support the communities it serves, Sam’s Club has reopened all club locations in Florida and is temporarily waiving its membership requirements for the communities affected by Hurricane Irma at select club locations. In Jacksonville, that includes 300 Busch Drive, 10690 Beach Blvd, and 6373 Youngerman Circle. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued an emergency order to waive the fees to replace Florida concealed weapon licenses and security guard licenses that were lost or destroyed during the hurricane. The U.S. Department of Agriculture accepted a request to allow all students in 48 counties subject to a FEMA Major Disaster Declaration access to free school meals through the National School Lunch Program. These changes, in effect Sept. 18 – Oct. 20, will potentially impact over 3,000 schools and 2.5 million children. Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties are all covered. A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center is opening Sunday at 1:30PM, at the Clay County Fairgrounds, building 3- 2497 State Road 16, Green Cove Springs. This center is open from 8AM to 8PM every day beginning Monday, September 25th, offering you in person support and assistance for both individuals and businesses. That includes helping you register for federal disaster assistance, applying for Small Business Administration loans, giving you updates on your specific case, processing appeals, and connecting you with state program information. HOTLINES Individuals needing assistance with clean-up on their private property are encouraged to contact Crisis Cleanup at 1-800-451-1954. As they are able, reputable and vetted relief agencies may assist you and your neighbors cut fallen trees, remove drywall, insulation, flooring, furniture, appliances, tarp roofs, etc. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the overwhelming need. Attorney General Pam Bondi has opened up a Price Gouging Hotline: (866) 9-NO-SCAM. Florida Emergency Information Hotline for all state residents: 1-800-342-3557. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has launched a Hurricane Irma insurance information hotline: 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. St. Johns County Emergency Management has opened a hotline for residents to call about county services, storm response, and events: (904) 824-5550. St. Johns County has also launched a Building Services Structural Hotline at (904) 827-6836. Clay County Call Center 904-284-7703 JTA Customer Service 5:30AM through 8:30PM 904.630.3100 or TTY 904.630.3191. Hotline for storm-related questions and problems in Jacksonville is 904-630-CITY In Nassau County, iIf you have any questions or concerns not addressed, please contact our Citizens Information Center at 1-904-548-0900. JEA Customer Care Consultants: 904.655.6000 or 800.683.5542- Consultants are able to give customers an idea of when a crew will be assigned to their area or circuit, according to JEA’s CEO, but it doesn’t guarantee when it will happen or when power will be restored. Consultants are also able to answer questions about why their power outage map shows you have power when you do not.   JEA and United Way- All counties: 2.1.1 or 904.632.0600- Customers without power are able to call this line seeking assistance, and JEA says they will work to try and transfer those to an agency that might be able to provide essential needs. Florida Blue, in partnership with New Directions Behavioral Health, is offering emotional support to individuals and loved ones affected by Hurricane Irma. The companies are providing community access to specially trained behavioral health counselors via a 24-hour, toll-free help line: 800-843-6514. K-12 SCHOOLS Duval County Schools: Duval County Public Schools will be closed on Friday, September 8 through Friday, September 15. School offices, after-school activities, and extended day care will also be closed those days. They aim to reopen on Monday. High School football games that had to be rescheduled because of Irma will now take place at the following days and times: Paxon v Yulee, 9/18 at 6PM at Paxon; Fletcher v Atlantic Coast, 9/18 at 6PM at Fletcher; Wolfson v Fernandina, 9/18 at 7PM at Wolfson; Westside v Ponte Vedra, 9/18 at 6PM at Westside; Lee v Columbia, 9/19 at 6PM at Lee; Mandarin v Deland, 9/19 at 6PM at Mandarin; Sandalwood v Spruce Creek, 9/19 at 6PM at Sandalwood; Terry Parker v Bishop Kenny, 9/22 at 7PM at Bishop Kenny; Ed White v Nease, 10/6 at 7PM at Ed White; Ribault v Suwanee, 10/10 at 7PM at Suwanee; Eglewood v Middleburg, 10/17 at 7PM at Endlewood; Baldwin v Stanton, 10/30 at 6PM at Baldwin. The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine has announced all Diocesan schools will be closed Friday 9/8 through Wednesday 9/13. The only schools that will not open Sept. 14 are Blessed Trinity, Cathedral Parish School and Early Learning Center, Christ the King, Morning Star and Morning Star High School, San Jose and San Juan del Rio. The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida's Child Development Center at 318 N. Ocean St. will be closed on Friday, September 8, and Monday, September 11, and Tuesday, September 12. The center will remain closed for all dates that Duval County schools are closed. The Jericho School for Children with Autism will be closed on Friday, September 8 through Wednesday, September 13. School resumes Thursday, September 14. Beaches Episcopal School cancels all after school activities Thursday. School will be closed Friday, September 8 through Wednesday, September 13. Classes will resume Thursday.  The first hurricane make-up day will be Thursday, November 9th, which was initially a Teacher Planning Day.  Jacksonville Country Day School will be closed on Friday, September 8, through Wednesday, September 13.  Extended Care and all after school activities, including Sharks basketball games, are also canceled on those days. They are reopening Thursday, September 14th. The Bolles School is closed through Wednesday. It will reopen Thursday. Bishop Kenny High School resumes classes Thursday. Arlington Community Academy Elementary is closed through Wednesday, September 13th. They are opening Thursday. Clay County Schools: All Clay schools will be closed Friday, September 8, through Friday, September 15th. School administrators are asked to report to their schools to assess damage on Thursday, September 14th. Transportation mechanics will report to the Middleburg compound on Thursday. Maintenance Staff will report to Operations on Thursday. Cafeteria Managers will report to their schools on Friday, September 15th. School board meeting on September 7 was canceled. The board plans to hold two meetings to make up for the cancellation, one on the 18th and one on the 26th. High School football makeup games: Clay High v Orange Park High, Oct 6th at 7PM at Orange Park High; Fleming Island High v Bucholz High, Sept 18th at 7PM at Fleming Island High; Middleburg High v Englewood High, Oct 17 at 7PM at Englewood High; Oakleaf High v Bartram Trail High, Oct 6 at 7PM at Bartram Trail High School; Orange Park High v Clay High, Oct 6 at 7PM at Orange Park High; Ridgeview High v Palatka High, Sept 18 at 7PM at Palatka High. Keystone Heights High v Umatilla High has been canceled. Nassau County Schools: All public schools and district offices in the district will be closed Friday, September 8 through Thursday, September, 14th. 12-month employees should report to work Thursday, September 14th, if possible. Classes will resume Friday. St. Johns County Schools: All schools will be closed Friday, Stepember 8, through Friday, September,15th. Schools will reopen Monday. All extracurricular and interscholastic activities have been canceled starting Friday, September 8th.  All St. Johns County after-school programs held at the Ketterlinus Gym and the W. E. Harris Community Center will resume on Monday, September 18 to coincide with schools reopening Baker County Schools: Baker County Public Schools are closed Friday, September 8, through Monday, September 18. Classes will resume Tuesday. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES Jacksonville University will be closed Friday, September 8, through Friday, September 15. Normal activities resume Monday, September 18th. FSCJ will be closed from Friday, September 8, and remain closed through Sunday the 17th. Classes are set to resume Monday, September, 18, at regularly scheduled times. The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind has canceled classes Thursday September 7 through the weekend. Classes will resume on Monday, September 18th.  Florida Coastal School of Law will resume classes Monday, Septemeber 18.  University of North Florida classes, including online classes, have been canceled from Friday, September 8, through Wednesday, September 13th. Class at the University of North Florida will resume on Thursday, Sept. 14. Offices will reopen , Wednesday, Sept. 13,  Edward Waters College will close Friday, September 8 and reopen Wednesday, September 13. Any classes, activities, or events that are scheduled to be held on campus between Sept. 8 and Sept. 12 have been cancelled.  The Edward Waters College Football Game Saturday, September 16th has been moved to University Christian School at 5520 University Blvd. It will take place at 4:30PM agaisnt Cumberland. St. Johns River State College campuses will be closed Friday, September 8. The College and classes will resume Monday, September 18. Flagler College closed Friday, September 8. Residence halls was opening Sunday, September 16th, and classes are resuming Monday, September 18th. TRANSPORTATION The County Road 218 Bridge east of Blanding in Clay County is closed for emergency repairs. The Roscoe Boulevard Bridge in St. Johns County is closed for emergency repairs. The Heckscher Drive Bridge at Browns Creek has reopened following emergency repairs. All of Duval County’s major bridges are now open, including Jacksonville’s Intracoastal bridges- Wonderwood, Beach, Atlantic, and JTB- the Acosta, Main Street, Dames Point, Hart, Mathews, and the Buckman Bridge have reopened, but you still need to drive with caution. The Black Creek Bridge on 218 in Clay County is back open. All St. Johns County bridges have reopened as of 11 am, Tuesday, September 12. Everyone is asked to be cautious of standing water hazards and debris obstructions. The Jacksonville International Airport ended operations Saturday 9/9 at 7pm. The airport reopened Tuesday. Flight ops are expected to gradually ramp up, and you should contact your airline for the most up-to-date flight information The Skyway will close at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 8 and reopen Wednesday, September 13th. The St. Johns River Ferry is scheduled to close after normal service on Thursday, September 7th, to relocate the boat inland. Service is resuming Thursday, September 14th. All JTA Bus Routes are back in service as of Wednesday, September 13. There may still be some detours. St. Johns County Council on Aging (COA) will resume normal paratransit tomorrow, September 14th. COA Sunshine Bus Service will resume today, Wednesday, September 13th beginning with the regularly scheduled afternoon runs on the following lines: Red, Blue, Purple, Orange, Green, Teal and Connector. Full hours of service on the above listed lines will resume Thursday, September 14th. The Hastings Circular will not run until the roads are deemed safe for travel. All construction work by the Florida Department of Transportation has been suspended temporarily because of the storm. Northeast Florida Regional Airport closed at 6PM Saturday. The airport opened to fixed wing aircraft Tuesday, September 12th. It’s also open and operational for helicopter traffic. Cargo operations at JAXPORT owned terminals ended at 11:59PM Friday. The Port of Jacksonville in its entirety- including private terminals- closed Saturday at 8PM. JAXPORT terminals and gates are now open, and the Coast Guard has cleared the entire Port of Jacksonville. GOVERNMENT All State of Florida offices will be closed on Friday, September 8. FDLE offices in Nassau and St. Johns are closed Wednesday, September 13. The Nassau County office remains closed Thursday, September 14th. All City of Jacksonville offices will be closed Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. Non-essential city services are also called off for those days.City services resume as normal Wednesday. All Jacksonville Public Library branches resume operations on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Overdue fines will be waived for items due when the library is closed. All St. Johns County library branches are open and available for residents and visitors to enjoy air conditioning, outlets to charge phones and devices, and other media services. The Clay County Animal Shelter evacuated because of Black Creek flooding. It will remain closed until further notice. If you need Animal Control assistance, call 904-269-6342 or email animalcontrol@claycountygov.com. The Florida Department of Corrections is canceling weekend visitation at all institutions for Saturday, September 9, and Sunday, September 10. All Duval County Tax Collector branch locations will close at noon on Thursday, September 7th. They reopened with limited staffing Wednesday, September 13th. All administrative offices in St. Johns County, the City of St. Augustine, and the City of St. Augustine Beach will be closed Tuesday, September 12. St. Johns County Administration Offices resume standard operations Thursday. The City of St. Augustine will open as power is restored. All administration offices, libraries, pet center, and recreational facilities will be open for standard business hours. The Duval County Clerk of Courts closed on Friday, September 8. The Chief Judge has ordered the Courthouse remain closed the rest of the week, as well as the Clerk’s Office. Regular hours should resume Monday, September 18th. The Fourth Circuit State Attorney’s Office is reopening Thursday, September 14th. Nassau County courts are closed through Thursday, September 14th. All perspective jurors who received summons to report to the Robert M. Foster Justice Center on Friday September 15, 2017 are excused and should not report. The summons will not be reissued.  Baker County courts closed through Tuesday, September 13th, and reopened Wednesday, September 13th. St. Johns County Courts closed Friday September 8th, and reopen Thursday, September 14th. The Clay County Courthouse and all Clerk of the Circuit Court branch offices in Clay County closed on Friday, September 8th. Court dates and services originally scheduled for these dates are impacted and have been rescheduled. Courts plan to reopen Thursday, September 14th. The United States Bankruptcy Court Jacksonville Division will be closed on Friday, September 8 and Monday, September 11, 2017. Naval Station Mayport is open to unrestricted traffic as of noon Wednesday, through the main gate. The Emergency Assistance Center is open at the base Fleet and Family Support Center (Bldg 1). You can also contact the Fleet and Family Support Center at 270-6600. The off base commissary and Navy Exchange are open at their normal hours. NAS Jax is opening for normal working hours Wednesday, September 13th. Members of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast Regional Call Center (RCC) are headed to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola Sept. 8, to relocate operations before Hurricane Irma reaches the Jacksonville, Florida area. NAS Jacksonville is telling personnel to shelter in place from 7PM Sunday through noon Monday. PARKS AND BEACHES Clay County is closing all boat ramps until Monday, September 18. The Jacksonville Zoo will open Thursday, September 14th. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is opening Thursday, September 14th. The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine is closed from Thursday, September 7, until further notice. Fort Matanzas in St. Augustine is closed from Thursday, September 7, until further notice. The Jacksonville Beach Golf Course will reopen Thursday, September 14th. The driving range remains closed. The large dog park at Paws Dog Park in Jax Beach has reopened. The small dog park previously reopened. Due to significant damage, erosion, and debris, as a result of Hurricane Irma, St. Johns County is urging all residents and visitors to avoid the beach, beach access points, and walkovers until further notice. Swimming in the ocean is also discouraged due to high surf, rip currents, and debris The following St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Facilities are closed pending inspections due to Hurricane Irma: Alpine Groves Park, Shands Pier, Riverdale Picnic Area, Bird Island Park, Canopy Park, Vail Park, Palmo Dock, Collier-Blocker-Puryear Park, Solomon Calhoun Center, Ketterlinus Gym, St. John's County Ocean and Fishing Pier, Nease Beachfront Park Jacksonville’s beaches are open, but you’re urged to use extreme caution and not go in the water at this time because of rough conditions and debris. The St. Johns Golf Club will reopen Friday, September 15th. The Slammer & Squire at World Golf Village is closed until further notice. The Solomon Calhoun Community Center and pool will remain closed through Wednesday, September 20 as it remains a post-impact shelter for residents affected by Hurricane Irma. The main parking garage in St. Augustine open Thursday, September 14th. $12/day fees will apply. The following Florida Park Service state parks remain closed- St. Johns County: Faver-Dykes State Park EVENTS The Ponte Vedra Auto Show has been rescheduled for Sunday, September 24 and will take place at the Nocatee Town Center. It was originally planned for September 10. The Riverside Arts Market on September 9th has been canceled. The market is anticipated to return to normal operations on September 16.  The Bryan Adams show at Daily's Place on Saturday, Sept. 9 has been postponed. Sing Out Loud Festival dates have been canceled on September 8th, September 9th, and September 10th. The Sing Out Loud festival scheduled for September 15 through 17 will continue as planned this weekend with minimal stage relocations or show cancellations. Please see the updated schedule below for concert venue details. For more information regarding the Sing Out Loud festival, please visit www.singoutloudfestival.com. The Adam Ant: Anthems Tour at the Florida Theatre on Sunday, September 10 has been postponed. Florida Theatre shows scheduled for Saturday September 23rd and beyond will continue as planned. Events scheduled in Jacksonville Beach this weekend of 9/9 have been canceled, including BRUVAL, Chemo Noir 1K Run, and the Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes Run. The Jax Armada is canceling the match on Saturday, September 9th. It's being rescheduled for September 27. St.Augustine Amphitheatre is canceling the Modest Mouse concert set for Thursday, September 7. The Blackberry Smoke concert on Friday, September 8, has been postponed. This Friday-Sunday,  9/15-17, Widespread Panic concerts at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre will proceed as originally scheduled. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp will not host any playoff games. Playoff tickets already purchased can be refunded. The FSCJ Artist Series kickoff event for Wednesday, September 13, has been canceled. Thursday September 7 night concerts at The Landing has been postponed. The Jacksonville Humane Society’s Toast to the Animals has been canceled. The International Coastal Cleanup scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16, is cancelled. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office Zone 4 (Middleburg/Clay Hill) SheriffsNET Meeting for 9/14 has been canceled. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and to help affected Creators, One Spark and Bold Events are postponing the One Spark 2017 Innovation Festival until the spring of 2018. This year’s event has been rescheduled to take place on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7, at EverBank Field, with a kickoff concert to be hosted by Bold Events at the new Daily’s Place amphitheater on Thursday, April 5. The St. Augustine Amphitheater has canceled the September 8 Blackberry Smoke and Chris Robinson Brotherhood concert event. Refunds will be granted at point of purchase. BUSINESSES All First Coast YMCA’s are now open, YMCA Afterschool prorams will resume when schools reopen, but some locations are offering camp: Duval County 9/14-15, duPont YMCA Youth Development Campus; in Clay County 9/13-15, Barco-Newton Family YMCA and Dye Clay Family YMCA; in Nassau County 9/14, Callahan Center and Yulee Kids Campus; in St. Johns County 9/14-15, Ponte Vedra YMCA. All SMG Jacksonville Box Offices & Administrative Offices are closed. They will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, September 13. All Florida Blue Centers in Jacksonville- Town Center, River City Marketplace, and Winston YMCA will be closed on Saturday, September 9. MOCA Jacksonville and NOLA MOCA will close at 9pm Thursday, September 7 and will remain closed until further notice. Jacksonville Symphony administrative and ticket office in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts closed 2pm today, Thursday, Sept. 7th. The office opened Wednesday, September 13.  All VyStar Credit Union branch locations, call center, and operations will be closed Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. The Jacksonville Humane Society is closing 1PM Saturday through Monday. They are reopening Thursday, September 14. JIA USO closed 11:00 AM Thursday, September 7.  NAS USO close at 5:00 PM Thursday, September 7, and Mayport USO closed at 9:00 PM Thursday, September 7. They opened Tuesday, September 12 and Wednesday, September 13. SAPA Extrusions is closing their plant in St. Augustine Friday at 3pm. Jax Federal Credit Union branches will be closed Saturday, September 9 through Tuesday, September 12. All Clay Electric district offices will be closed to the public Monday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 12 so personnel can focus on restoration efforts after Hurricane Irma. Northrop Grumman employees impacted by Hurricane Irma who need assistance or information can call 1-800-995-4318, or continue to visit www.northropgrumman.com/emergency for updates. The Northrop Grumman site in St. Augustine is closed on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.  HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL OFFICES Both Baptist Beaches and Nassau Medical Center ERs and hospitals have reopened after they were evacuated because of the storm. Both will resume full operations by Wednesday, September 13th, at 8AM. St. Vincent's Riverside facility transferred their most clinically appropriate patients to St. Vincent's Southside and St. Vincent's Clay County on September 11, due to flooding in the area. Alignment Healthcare at 3520 St. Johns Bluff, which serves Florida Blue Preferred HMO Medicare members, will reopen tomorrow, Sept. 14. The location at 5500 Blanding Road will be closed the remainder of this week due to flooding and anticipates reopening next week. All patient appointments are being rescheduled or relocated to the St. Johns Bluff location. UF Health Jacksonville remains open. They have sent medical staff to shelters to help as needed. PRE-STORM EVACUATIONS ALL CURFEWS IN NORTHEAST FLORIDA HAVE NOW BEEN LIFTED Jacksonville’s Mayor has issued a mandatory evacuation for anyone living in Zone A or Zone B evacuate. The mandatory evacuation has also been extended for people living in mobile homes, or in low-lying areas. Nassau County has issued mandatory evacuations for anyone in Zones A,C, or F, with the order going into effect Friday, September 8, at 6 PM. St. Johns County has mandatory evacuations for anyone in Zones A and B, which includes St. Augustine and Hastings. Clay County has a mandatory evacuation for Zones A, B, and C as well as low lying, modular, or vulnerable homes for Saturday at 6AM. Baker County has issued a mandatory evacuation of all residents of Steel Bridge Road- east of the collection site, all residents of Webb Haven Road, Persimmon and Ash Road in the Turkey Creek II neighborhood, Myrtle, Camphor, Chestnut, and Gum Roads, all residents on the west side of Aspen Road, all residents on Lil Dixie Trail, all residents on River Oak Circle, all residents on River Oak Drive, all residents on Confederate Drive East, all residents of Cedar Creek Farms Road. You’re also encourages to seek shelter if you’re in a mobile home or compromised shelter. The Florida Department of Corrections has evacuated Bridges of Jacksonville. Tolls have been lifted across the state to aid in evacuations. PRE-STORM RESOURCES The City of Jacksonville has opened 12 shelters. Find locations HERE. Baker County opened two shelters, one for the general population and one for special needs. More details HERE. Clay County has announced the opening of four shelters. Find locations HERE. St. Johns County is opening five shelters on Saturday morning at 6 AM. Info posted HERE. Nassau County is open five shelters, starting 6 PM Friday. More info HERE. City Rescue Mission currently provides shelter for 250 people. They are providing accommodations for 100 additional people at City Rescue Mission's New Life Inn, 234 W. State Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202, Friday at noon. The Salvation Army’s Towers Center of Hope at 900 W. Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville will open its shelter to the homeless. The shelter will open as weather dictates and will remain open as long as needed. JTA has three designated locations for anyone evacuating from the beaches who doesn’t have transportation: Fletcher High School, Mayport Middle School, and Jacksonville Beach Elementary School.  Florida Governor Rick Scott has ordered all K-12 public schools, state colleges, state universities, and state offices to be closed Friday through Monday so the facilities can be used for sheltering and emergency management operations. Nassau County Emergency Management says the Town of Callahan is out of fuel and all gas station will be closed until Tuesday. Airbnb activated its Disaster Response Program to aid Floridians forced to evacuate from their homes in connection to Hurricane Irma as well as relief workers arriving to provide assistance.   Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern on September 9 and running through midnight on September 11, Verizon is giving postpaid customers talk, text and data relief while prepaid customers receive an extra 3 GB for talk, text and data. Through the storm period for our area, St. Vincent's HealthCare is offering FREE 24-hour non-emergency virtual care via video chat through our new service called St. Vincent's On Demand.  Because of how the St. Vincent's On Demand system is set up, patients will need to pay the $49.99 fee up front, but their credit cards will be refunded 2 - 3 days after the visit if it's within the storm period. As Hurricane Irma continues to make its way north we’re automatically issuing credits and waiving additional fees to give unlimited data, talk and texts to AT&T wireless customers and unlimited talk and texts to AT&T PREPAID customers across all of Florida, through at least Sept. 17.
  • Another Disaster Recovery Center is standing up on the First Coast.  Soon after Irma moved through our area, a DRC opened in St. Johns County. Since there, there have been several disaster recovery and relief events taking place, but now seven-day-a-week help has been established in Clay County. FULL LIST: Disaster relief and recovery events and centers in Northeast Florida  A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center opened Sunday around 1:30PM and will operate through 8PM. Normal operating hours begin Monday, September 25th of 8AM through 8PM seven days a week. The DRC is at the Clay County Fairgrounds, building 3- 2497 State Road 16, Green Cove Springs. This center offers you in person support and assistance for both individuals and businesses. That includes helping you register for federal disaster assistance, applying for Small Business Administration loans, giving you updates on your specific case, processing appeals, and connecting you with state program information.  The DRC was initially going to open Monday, but Clay County Emergency Management tells WOKV the DRC arrived early, so they decided to get started sooner than expected. There are four other DRC’s open in Florida- the on at the Wind Mitigation Building in St. Augustine, as well as locations in Boynton Beach, Riverview, and Ft. Myers. The Small Business Administration also opened a Business Recovery Center in Jacksonville, at the Beaver Street Enterprise Center, 728 Blanche Street, building 2.  You can also register directly for federal assistance on your own. All First Coast counties are eligible for individual assistance, under the federal disaster declaration.

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