Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida as Category 4 – National & International News – WED 29Sep2022

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida. Biden lays out plan to end US hunger by 2030. Cuba begins restoring power after Ian caused total blackout.




Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida

Ian has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds up to 155 mph (2 mph less than a Category 5). The greatest danger may not be the wind but rather flooding and storm surges, which may reach 18 feet in some areas.

Nearly 3 million people in Florida were under mandatory evacuation orders in recent days. However, many have chosen to stay put and officials now say it is too late to evacuate safely. Ahead of the storm, Gov. DeSantis mobilized thousands of National Guard members.

Over 450,000 customers in Florida have already lost power, and many more are likely to in the coming hours. Several cities also have their power crews on stand-by to begin restoring power as soon as it’s safe. Customers are also likely to lose cell phone service. DeSantis says they have mobile cell towers ready to move into southwest Florida once the storm passes.

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Biden lays out plan to end US hunger by 2030

During the pandemic, images of long lines of cars waiting at food banks became commonplace in the media. The pandemic exposed how close many people in the US are to food insecurity, even working people who do not qualify for public assistance. Not only did job losses and pay cuts stretch many people’s budgets, school closures meant many children no longer had access to heavily subsidized school lunch and breakfast programs. As a result, 1 in 10 households experienced food insecurity in 2021.

In a White House conference, President Biden announced a plan to drastically reduce hunger and food insecurity in the US by 2030. The plan calls for expansion of access to free school meals and food stamps. Another priority is to reduce the prevalence of “food deserts”, where healthy food is less accessible. Food deserts disproportionately affect people of color, low-income earners and people in rural areas.

While health advocates welcomed the attention to the issue brought by the conference, many have criticized that the proposals raised were long on ideas and short on action. Expanding access to school meals and food stamps would require action from Congress. Congress has so far refused to re-enact the expanded child tax credit which, for just 6 months last year, reduced child poverty by 30%.

Although advocates applauded proposals to expand the social safety net, the conference failed to tackle some of the root causes of food insecurity and inequality. These include wage inequality as well as disproportionate government subsidies for crops that mostly wind up as unhealthy processed foods.

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Cuba begins restoring power after Ian caused total blackout

Hurricane Ian rolled over Cuba last night as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm damaged homes and infrastructure all over the island and two people have been confirmed dead. The island’s electrical system also collapsed, leaving all 11 million residents without power. Utility workers have been at work since before dawn and have so far managed to restore power in 3 eastern provinces. Authorities warn that restoring power in the west, which was hit hardest, will be “more complicated”.

The power outage also means many people who rely on electric water pumps do not have running water. Blackouts have been a frequent occurrence on the island for some time due to its aging power infrastructure. Cuba has also been experiencing shortages of food and medicine for years, in part due to US sanctions on the island. The economic situation on the island will certainly prolong recovery for many of its people, some of whom have lost everything.

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