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‘It is devastating’: unprecedented floods in US strain small businesses

Devastating floods in US

Alejandra Palma lives in perpetual fear of the next storm.

“We are constantly checking the weather,” said Palma, who co-owns Root Hill Cafe in Brooklyn’s low-lying Gowanus neighborhood. “If we see that there’s a hurricane in Florida, it’s like, oh my God, please let it not come here.”

Last September, when record rain hit New York, it flooded her small businesses, damaging walls and floors already weakened from previous flooding and causing gasoline from a nearby construction site to leak into her basement. It took almost two days to clean up and reopen the shop.

Last year wasn’t entirely a fluke: Palma said that each year she loses about five business days to flooding and estimates that each day Root Hill is closed, it costs her business about $3,500 in lost sales and employee pay.

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Magnitude 3.4 earthquake recorded outside of Chicago Monday morning

chicago earthquakeAn earthquake rocked northern Illinois early Monday morning.

At 2:53 a.m. local time, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake shook the ground around Somonauk, Illinois, according to the United States Geological Survey. The village is around 64 miles west of the Chicago.

People in cities and suburbs to the west of the Windy City, like Aurora, reported feeling weak or light shaking, however the tremors would not have been strong enough to cause damage.

Damage from earthquakes doesn't occur until the quake reaches a magnitude of 4 or 5, according to the USGS. But other variables, like the distance from the earthquake or a building's construction, can affect that.

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Record-breaking heatwave shifts east as millions of Americans under heat alert

Heat moves east

A heatwave that impacted the US west coast over the past week is now moving east into the midwest and south-east, as millions of Americans have been under a heat alert at some point in the past week.

“Numerous near record-tying/breaking high temperatures are possible over the central High Plains and Southeast Sunday, and along much of the East Coast by Monday,” reported the National Weather Service.

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California heat has immigration activists bracing for a humanitarian crisis

Immigration crisisIt’s dawn at the foot of Otay Mountain, and the heat is already nauseating.

Even this early in the morning, temperatures near this 3,500-foot peak reach triple digits, with this part of the U.S.-Mexico border under an excessive heat warning.

Volunteers with Borderlands Relief Collective, a group of private citizens from the San Diego area, are preparing to drive up the mountain and deliver water and first aid to migrants crossing into the U.S.

Almost as soon as they start climbing up, the group encounters a man sitting on the side of the road. He breaks into tears when he sees the volunteers approaching with water.

He is dehydrated and wearing shoes too small for his feet. In broken English, he says his name is Taleb, and he’s from Mauritania. Before NPR can get a last name, he’s rushed aside to receive care.

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Climate change disrupting housing markets, insurance industry

House could not be saveed after erosion

A house on the New England island of Nantucket that was valued at $1.9 million but recently sold for $200,000 has brought U.S. coastal erosion concerns into focus.

Why it matters: Climate risks bring the "potential for widespread property value declines in coastal areas" and "constitutes a major economic threat," per Alice Hill, an expert on energy and the environment at the nonprofit Council on Foreign Relations.

  • Hill noted in an email Thursday that 40% of the U.S. population lives in a coastal county.

Driving the news: The late June sale of the $200,000 Nantucket home comes months after a house valued at $2.2 million on the same street sold for $600,000. Another last October had to be demolished due to "extreme erosion" along the Massachusetts island's southwest shoreline, the Nantucket Current reports.

  • Only "a couple of waterfront areas" are experiencing extreme erosion on Nantucket, and property values "are going up across the island," said Shelly Lockwood, a Nantucket real estate broker who helped develop a coastal resilience class for local agents on erosion and rising sea levels.

The big picture: Sea-level rise, a tangible effect of climate change, is accelerating across the U.S., per Christopher Hein, a coastal geologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary.

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  • What's happening in Nantucket, a popular place to have summer houses among celebrities and billionaires, can be seen across the U.S.
  • In the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May, officials had to close a stretch of beach after a sixth house collapsed into the sea due to erosion.
  • Other coastal erosion hot spots include parts of California, like Dana Point, south of Los Angeles, and Plum Island, northern Mass.
  • A new economic model from Duke University found that tax incentives for high-income property owners, coupled with federal subsidies for storm and flood damage mitigation, have driven coastal property prices higher despite rising climate risks, per a March study.

Earthquake of magnitude 6.4 rumbles southwestern Canada, Vancouver Island

Canada earthquakeA magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook southwestern Canada near Vancouver on Thursday.

The epicenter of the quake was around 130 miles from Tofino, a small district on Vancouver Island in the Pacific Ocean off Canada's west coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Tofino is around 130 miles west of Vancouver. The quake's depth was around 6.2 miles.

A population of around 2,000 in Tofino would be exposed to light shaking, the Survey said.

The rumbling was first detected just after 8 am local time. Its magnitude was first estimated at 6.5 by the USGS, before it was downgraded to 6.4 minutes later.

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Hawaii's Haleakala fire continues to blaze as memory of 2023 Maui wildfire lingers

Maui devastation

A brush fire in Hawaii fanned by high winds raced through more than 500 acres within hours, forcing closure of Maui's Haleakala National Park on Thursday while residents of the picturesque island continue to grapple with fallout from last year's historic blaze − the nation's most deadly wildfire in more than a century.

Fire officials said the current fire was sweeping southeast, driven by 40 mph winds. No homes had burned, but authorities issued an alert at 3 a.m. local time warning area residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders. Dozens of firefighters and tankers were battling the flames, and the county website was providing residents with updates on the fire's spread.

"The safety of our community is our top priority, and we need your cooperation to ensure everyone's well being," the Maui Fire Department said in its alert.

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