Extreme Flooding Throughout Western Wisconsin Causes Millions of Dollars in Damages

flooding

The Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center has been working tirelessly for over three days to clear roads and assess damages caused by major flooding throughout the region.

According to local news affiliate WEAU, heavy rains led to destructive flooding throughout Western Wisconsin, from Osseo, to Strum, and parts of Buffalo, Clark, Jackson, and Trempealeau counties.

The Strum Dam, a popular local landmark and a major part of the city’s water supply, was breached by the flooding.

The operator of the dam, Gary Barone, said he received a call on Monday morning from Osseo informing him of high water levels there. Barone said the water had rose eight inches within 30 minutes Monday morning.

He added that the normal water level for the dam is around 480 inches. By Monday night, the dam’s water levels reached a staggering 770 inches.

Cody Rose, a witness to the flooding, told WEAU that “the water was above (my car’s) headlights and it basically looked like a big swimming pool for a while.”

An update on Thursday from local news affiliate WXOW noted just how serious the damages were. The Trempealeau County Emergency Department reported $1.955 million in total damage to homes and businesses in Osseo, Strum and Eleva.

Officials also say that 25 homes were impacted by high water, with one suffering major damage estimated at $275,000. Water damage is a common result of extensive flooding, and its consequences can be extremely serious.

“Water can cause a substantial amount of home damage in a short period of time,” says  Brian Thurston, Certified Mold Remediation Specialist, Pro-Clean Services. “Hiring a professional water restoration team right away will limit the effects caused by water damage, saving an outrageous repair bill. If moisture within the home is not mitigated properly, mold growth can rapidly develop causing a serious health hazard.”

WXOW also reports that Buffalo county is still under a state of emergency, though the Strum Dam is holding at an acceptable level.

Several roads throughout Western Wisconsin are still closed to traffic three days after the storm. Emergency Managers are advising all residents to avoid travel when possible.

Back-To-School Shopping Creating New Stress In Parents

school supplies

Back-to-school season is creating new stress for parents, according to a recent report from Fortune. With the average cost of kindergarten through 12th grade school supplies nearing $700, it’s no wonder that parents are looking for ways to alleviate the pressures of starting off the school year fully equipped. Laura Vanderkam, a mother of four children under the age of nine, writes about the stress that raised expectations inflicts on her as a parent.

“…For working parents, that means lots of late-night trips to Staples and Target, long lines and big bills,” she writes. “Add into that the challenge of managing new logistics – new schedules for the kids – and you’ve got full-on back to school stress.”

In a recent study by the National Retail Federation, it was discovered that, over the last 10 years, back-to-school spending has increased by 42%. School shopping even continued to increase despite the recession, and most of it is happening in-store, due to an emphasis on parent-child bonding during the hunt for supplies.

And purchasing school supplies isn’t the only thing stressing out parents. A new school year can bring new changes to the average family that can heap on the stress, even if it’s just a change of schedule. Scott Behson, author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide, notes how the change effects families:

“Any transition or change to your family schedule can be a source of stress. The first weeks of school are often difficult because summer camps and other child-care arrangements are done, but lots of schools have off-days and half-days during the initial weeks. This can wreak havoc if one or both parents have inflexible work schedules or lengthy commutes.”

Finding new ways to organize your schedules, as well as minimize waste of your child’s new school supplies, can help to alleviate some of these seasonal stressors. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of waiting out the storm.

University of California Sued by Former Football Player for Medical Malpractice

lawsuit

Bernard Hicks played safety for the University of California football team from 2004 to 2008. According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month and reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hicks is now seeking restitution from the school in regards to a medical malpractice claim. Hicks and his medical malpractice lawyer, Matthew Whibley, are arguing that he sustained multiple concussions in games and practice and the school did not properly educate him in prevention, treatment, and the overall risks of long-term head trauma.

“The university is the players’ caretaker,” Whibley said. “We think it would be fair for them to at least inform the players what they’re getting themselves into.”

The suit indicates that since leaving school Hicks has endured “permanent and debilitating” neurological injuries that have caused depression, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, memory loss, as well as blurred and double vision. The team physician, Cindy Chang, head athletic trainer, Ryan Cobb, and head coach at the time, Jeff Tedford, were named as defendants in the case.

The University of California could not comment directly on Hicks’ case due to legal implications, but the athletics department did release a statement reported by Yahoo! Sports, saying that its care is based on the “best and most up-to-date clinical guidelines” and that “the medical care we provide our student-athletes meets or exceeds the standards in collegiate and national sports medicine.”

The issue of head trauma and specifically concussions has been an ongoing battle in the National Football League (NFL) for the past few years. Many players suffer from serious conditions later in life that have even led to suicide. But the question remains, should the school or organization hold responsibility in making players aware of potential dangers, or is it an inherent risk associated with a violent sport that individuals should know going in?

Rest in Space? Space Company Says Lunar Burial is a Go for Launch

moon

For almost two decades, it’s been possible to send your remains into outer space, where they circle the planet in low-Earth orbit. In some cases, they eventually return to the atmosphere, returning to the Earth as a “shooting star.” But this August, two companies are making international headlines to take it one step further and provide the very first lunar memorial services.

Prices for the moon memorials range from $9,950 to $12,500, which is extraordinary, considering that’s roughly the same price as a traditional casket funeral service. In a press release, Elysium Space announced the opening of reservations for the first “Lunar Memorial Service,” which they hope will touch down on the lunar surface in 2016.

The San Francisco space company also told the story of U.S. Army Infantry Soldier Steven Jenks, who will send a portion of his mother’s remains on the first shuttle. When Jenks was deployed to Iraq, his mother would often sign her letters with a special message: “No matter how lonely you feel and how far you are, always look at the Moon and know I am with you. I love you to the Moon and back. Love, Mom.”

“From the first day we started Elysium Space and imagined awe-inspiring memorials, we thought that the Moon could create the quintessential commemoration,” said Thomas Civeit, Elysium Space CEO and former NASA engineer. “Offering this exceptional tribute within the reach of most families is an important part of this new chapter opening for our civilization.”

The company will collect portions of human remains in specially designed cremation urns for ashes, then deliver the capsules to the moon’s surface with the help of Astrobotic Technology, another U.S. space company. They aren’t the only companies trying to offer the lunar service; rival space companies Celestis and Moon Express have similar lunar memorial plans.

While many people have expressed enthusiasm over the possibility of resting in space, others have expressed credulity. Popular Science said that the lunar memorial capsules amounted to “space litter.”

“There are people today with a great deal of discretionary income,” says Ira Woods, CEO, OneWorld Memorials. “Considering that Virgin Galactic sold over 700 tickets for a trip to space at $250,000 a piece, this is a small price to be memorialized on the moon. It’s no secret that the luxury market is doing quite well and for the price of an ordinary funeral having something as unique and exciting as a moon memorial can be appealing to many for quite some time.”

Kanye for President?

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Those tuning in to the 2015 MTV VMAs saw their fair share of action. From Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus to Nicki Minaj, the award show boasted a host of big ticket names and even a little drama (we’re looking at you, Miley and Nicki).

But no one expected things to get political. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Kanye West is allegedly running for president.

While accepting the award show’s highest honor, as presented by Taylor Swift, Kanye West gave a rambling and, at times, confusing 10-minute acceptance speech. His speech covered a plethora of topics, ranging from baseball bats to grocery shopping. At one point, Mr. West even admitted that he “rolled up a little something” prior to his speech.

As he wrapped up, he dropped the political bomb on the star-studded audience.

“And yes, as you probably could’ve guessed in this moment, I’ve decided in 2020 to run for president,” West said to the cheering crowd.

Now that West has dropped the presidential bomb, what can we expect from him in the coming years? Was this not-so-small tidbit a premeditated part of his speech, or was the announcement simply a response to the audience member who audibly yelled “Kanye for president” during his speech?

Either way, it’s not the first time that a celebrity has stepped into the running for presidency.

Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon and reality television host, is chugging away in the primaries as the Republican presidential candidate. Sans his extremely strong right-wing opinions, Trump has zero political experience; even so, his campaign is running smoothly in many red states.

Considering the viral fame that Kanye has repeatedly earned on social media sites, it seems his reputation alone could add validity to his potential 2020 running.

After all, in 2012, 30% of voters reported that social media sites played a role in encouraging them to vote for either President Obama or Mitt Romney.

Kanye West, the king of hip hop, Tumblr memes, and husband of Kim Kardashian, should have no problem garnering social media attention.

Couple Travels the World for One Whole Year, and You Won’t Believe How They Did It

Passport and US Visa

When Mark and Britnee Johnson took a trip to Vietnam in 2011, they found that the two weeks they spent on vacation just wasn’t enough. So the couple, who were profiled on Forbes.com, did what many people do once they catch the travel bug: they planned for a longer trip and saved some pennies.

But the way they did it — and the next vacation they decided to take — make their story unique: they decided they wanted to drop everything to see the world, so they saved $40,000 in two years to do just that.

At the time they got the inspiration for their plans, the couple lived in Utah and had no mortgage to pay or children to raise. Mark, now 35, was a photographer for a local newspaper, and Britnee, now 27, was a communications director at a non-profit.

After figuring out the math, the couple determined that they had to save approximately $40,000 to take a year off and travel. They did this by reading travel blogs, estimating the cost of food in certain locations, and pricing out the cost of visas and lodgings.

For example, if they had wanted to celebrate the 225th anniversary of France’s independence in Paris in 2014, they could have chosen from nearly 50,000 apartments on Airbnb. The site recently made the news because it began collecting a small tourist tax on behalf of apartment owners.

Back at home, however, Mark and Britnee had to wait and live frugally by each saving $1,000 per month. Overall, they each saved $20,000 for their trip thanks to their day jobs.

The also did some freelance work on the side — photography assignments for Mark and content writing and social media two or three hours a night for Britnee. This helped them provide a “coming home” fund for themselves worth $10,000, in addition to adding to their 401(k)s and health care plans.

They wound up terminating their apartment lease early to help cut some costs and moved in with Mark’s parents in March and April. After giving notice at their jobs, they then departed for their world tour in May 2014 and started with Tokyo.

Overall, Mark and Britnee visited 26 countries and 78 cities in one year. Although their budget was $40,000, they exceeded that by $8,000 based on the last-minute decisions to also travel to Bolivia and Turkey.

Since coming home, both were lucky enough to land jobs within a short matter of time. “We’re better off now than when we left, in terms of income and our standard of living,” Mark told Forbes.

The couple also moved from Orem, Utah, to Salt Lake City. They’re already plotting their next vacation, but they’re thinking probably something like a beach trip rather than a year-long expedition.

But now that they’re also making more money than they were before, they realized that traveling is possible on a budget — even in the long term.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel, which is a misconception I had growing up,” Britnee said.

Charleston Flooding Caused By Heavy Rains

flooding

According to recent updates from The Weather Channel, Charleston, South Carolina, experienced flooded roadways on Monday morning, caused by an unusual amount of heavy rains in the area. Home to the first public college, the first playhouse, and the first museum ever built in the United States, Charleston received 6.25 inches of rain between midnight and 8 a.m. Monday morning. This measure broke the previous daily record, set in 2006, of 2.61 inches. On Monday alone, the city saw more rain then they’d seen in the previous 30 days of August put together.

Meteorologist Chris Dolce described the cause of the heavy rains:

“A dip in the jet stream over the South is helping to send a pipeline of deep moisture from Florida northeastward to the coastal Carolinas. This has contributed to the development of slow-moving thunderstorms this morning near the South Carolina coast that have unleashed torrential rainfall.”

Because of the flooding, many major roadways were closed, and some were even completely underwater. Nonetheless, drivers ventured out onto the submerged motorways, and some found themselves stranded or waterlogged. There was one water rescue reported on Monday morning, and a mudslide reported around 8:30 a.m. So far, no fatalities have been reported.

Citizens of Charleston expects that the flood could worsen due to high tides in the area, which are expected to be in effect until Wednesday at least. They also anticipate that the final throws of Tropical Storm Erika may also contribute to their current state of crisis.

Dolce added, “Heavy rain could create additional flooding problems on Monday from the coastal Carolinas to Florida, where moisture from former Tropical Storm Erika will enhance rainfall.”

Charleston experienced major flooding just two weeks ago, and may see major water damage in homes and establishments in the weeks to come.

Governor Cuomo’s New App Brings the New York State Fair Into the 21st Century

multitasking in hands

The annual New York State Fair is in full swing, offering concerts, rides, baby farm animals, and of course all the sugar-laden and/or deep-fried food you can shake a stick at. This year, attendees also have a way to see the itineraries, purchase tickets, and obtain any other pressing information, all from one convenient application in their smartphone or tablet device.

In late August, Governor Cuomo announced his plans to launch the app, and it is now available for public use. The application boasts a number of features a thorough itinerary of all of the events as well as an easy way to purchase tickets. There’s also a GPS-enabled map, so fairgoers in search of the Tilt-A-Whirl or the dairy barn can navigate the 375-acre grounds with comfort and ease.

While Governor Cuomo states that more than half of all people are viewing the application from a mobile device, the mobile website is compatible for smartphones, making it an accessible experience even for those who are unable to download the app.

“Apps and/or mobile websites are the new way to reach your customers, especially the millennial generation,” says Ola Danilina, CEO/Founder, PMBC Group. “Younger generations access most of the sites on their mobile devices and makes reservations or purchases online or via an app.”

And for those who wish to see what’s happening at the fair, all they need to do is look to social media and search for the #NYSF tag.

The State Fair’s app also allows users to access its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Since 1832, the New York State Fair has been an event that speaks to the tradition and spirit of the people of New York.

With the application, Gov. Cuomo hopes that the beloved New York tradition will adopt a more modern face.

“This new app and website will bring one of the state’s most treasured traditions into the 21st century,” he said in a statement.

This step into the future also allows the fair to stay organized, and fair attendees to stay in the know about any alerts or changes — even as they’re noshing on funnel cakes or fried bacon-wrapped Snickers bars.

Officials Seek To Fund New Handicap-Accessible Beach Park

Handicapped wheelchair sign

Town leaders in the Carolina Beach area have been looking into ways to make the beach more accessible for handicapped citizens. They are currently considering adding a mini-park for those with handicap disabilities, including an access point for those who need a wheelchair.

In a meeting held on September 1st, officials talked about turning a piece of land bought by the town five years ago into a new, universally accessible beach park. PortCity Daily reports that early park plans included handicapped parking spaces, elevated decks, walkways, restroom and shower access, a gazebo, and future beach access. The project is estimated to cost the town around $50,000.

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the demand for universal design has continued to grow each year. Universal designs allow for accessibility without the sacrifice of visual appeal. As a result, more facilities and homes are being built to include universally accessible facilities, including wider doorways, floating sinks or cabinets, roll-in showers, and more.

The town council is turning to mayor Dan Wilcox and project manager Jerry Haire to figure out the best way to fund the project, which had been delayed after two of the three council members who approved the land’s purchase were not re-elected.

”What I had intended at the time was to pay for this with grants, and that’s still my priority,” Says Wilcox. “With the money that can be raised, I believe we don’t have to ask tax payers.”

Wilcox is also certain that the townspeople will be open to helping with the projects through local donations.

The town is looking at several grant opportunities, including one sponsored by Home Depot. If planning goes well and there are no further delays, construction on the park is expected to start as early as the end of spring 2016.

Fallen Fence Leaves Fans Injured At Fetty Wap Concert

hands raised by the crowd at a live music concert

While a metal fence can offer a 65% return on investment, it’s going to take more than that to convince two Fetty Wap fans to step foot near one again. According to a recent Newsday report, two girls were attending the rapper’s show at the Billboard Hot 100 festival, where he was playing a 30-minute set. During the final song, Wap jumped from the stage into the crowd, causing the fans to swarm the New Jersey rapper for photos and exposure.

After two minutes of chaos, the rapper’s security team entered the crowd, attempting to put a stop to the mob. In the surge, the legs of two girls were trapped underneath a steel fence that had separated the 5-foot stage from the crowd of nearly 1,000. Medics wrapped and iced the girls’ legs before calling their parents around 3:30 p.m. Fetty Wap returned to the stage and apologized to his fans before starting his last song over.

The girls weren’t the only ones this month who were injured at big-name concerts. Earlier this month, The Seattle Times reported on a boy who fell from the 300 to the 200 level of the field arena where Taylor Swift was playing. Witnesses described the fall as “shocking,” and the boy has recently reported to be in satisfactory condition, where previously, doctors were reporting a more serious injury.

Rapper A$AP Rocky is actually involved in a lawsuit for a recent fan concert injury, where the fan was reported to have seriously injured a vertebrae while crowd-surfing. While the rapper himself was not involved with the surfing, the injured claims that he and the other members of A$AP Mob are often known to crowd-dive, so she claimed that they were to blame for the atmosphere allowing it.