The latest local news

Medics adding sensory bags to ambulances

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- MEDIC EMS in Davenport is seeing a need for a new tool on their rigs.

Right now, they are testing out "sensory bags". Bright yellow backpacks filled with toys, headphones, blankets and other comfort items for kids with autism.

According to the Center of Disease Control, 1 in 59 kids in the United States have autism and for medics here in the Quad Cities that statistic meant they needed to be prepared to properly respond to all calls. Including calls with someone on the spectrum.

"In a given time of a year or a month or whatever we are going to come in contact with these children so I think any extra training that we can do for our EMT's and paramedics along with any tools that may help them take care of one of these patients we are going to do," said Jeremy Pessman, with MEDIC EMS.

They hope to launch the bags by March of this year and plan on carrying one bag in every ambulance.

YOUR MONEY with Mark: Where’s the Jobs in 2020?

WQAD News -

When it comes to YOUR MONEY, we want to take it a step further. That's why Mark Grywacheski appears on Good Morning Quad Cities every Monday to give us his analysis of the latest business, economic, and financial news.

If you're looking for a job - or a change - now's the right time.

The U.S. economy added 145,000 new jobs in December 2019 and the U.S. unemployment rate is now at a new 50-year low, at 3.5%.

During Good Morning Quad Cities' Your Money Segment on Monday, January 20th, Mark Grywacheski - Investment Advisor with the Quad Cities Investment Group - recapped the labor market in 2019 and what we can expect in 2020.

He says the biggest job gains over the last year have been in Education and Health Services, followed by Professional and Business Services, then Leisure and Hospitality.

Manufacturing is lower on the list - going from #6 in 2018 to #9 in 2019 when it comes to "Job Gains by Sector" - but Grywacheski says he expects a pickup in that industry after 500,000 new jobs were added in the last three years, which is the most since the mid-1980s.

"The global economy should get stronger," he explained. "I think the U.S. economy gets stronger. We just wrapped up our two biggest trade disputes. Now, it's not going to be an overnight flip of the switch. It's going to take some time to filter through the economy, to filter through these manufacturing supply chains, but I do have a revised upward projection for 2020."

To hear the rest of our conversation about the labor market, wage growth, and more - click the video clip above.

RISE: Ways to Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day Today… and Beyond

WQAD News -

Monday, January 20th, 2020 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The federal holiday celebrates the birthday of the minister and activist, who was born January 15th, 1929. Dr. King became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

"I have a dream... that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed."

To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Augustana College held its Community Celebration on Saturday, January 18th, 2020. This year's theme is RISE.

The Soul Children of Chicago performed at the event. The mission of the 30-year-old group is to use music "as the motivator and catalyst to inspire young people throughout the world to have faith in themselves, each other and God."

RISE is also the theme of Reverend Dwight Ford's Keynote Address, which also takes place at Augustana College at 10:30am on Monday, January 20th in The Gerber Center for Student Life. This free event features Rev. Ford from Grace City Church in Rock Island, Illinois.

Also taking place at 10:30am on Monday, January 20th is the 37th Annual Memorial Service and Awards Celebration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Rock Island. The theme for this year's event is also based on a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." The event features keynote speaker Rev. Allen Shuler from Olivet Baptist Church in Rock Island and the “I Have A Dream” Award, presented to a Rock Island citizen for exemplary community service and enormous contributions made to the community.

To learn about Martin Luther King Jr., click here.

The Score Sunday – Riverdale GBB, Augustana MBB, FCA

WQAD News -

This week on The Score Sunday we talk with the 15-2 Riverdale Girls Basketball Team.  The Rams are leading the TRAC and ranked in the state.  Augustana Men's Basketball picked up a couple big wins this past week to move them into third place in the CCIW.  The FCA story of the week features Assumption Freshman Wrestler Derrick Bass.

Taal volcano eruption poses deadly dilemma for people living in its shadow

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Maria Evangeline Tenorio Sarmiento struggles to wade through ankle-deep mud and debris to reach her house that’s been inundated with thick sludge.

Inside, the 52-year-old mother of two finds the roof over her kitchen has collapsed under the weight of ashfall.

The once-blue walls are now smeared in a thick layer of gray ash. Her son is up on the roof scraping off the mud in an effort to stop the rest from caving in.

“It was totally destroyed. I only saw it yesterday. I saw our barangay (village) and can’t help but cry,” she told CNN from the ruined house in Laurel in the Philippine province of Batangas.

Sarmiento’s piggery — a new source of income for her — is gone. Her five pigs dead.

“How can we rebuild our lives? How can we start again? I don’t have money to use as capital again,” she said.

It’s a bleak prospect faced by many families in Batangas and Cavite who lost their homes and livelihoods when the Taal volcano — one of the Philippines’ most active — began erupting last Sunday, spewing ash up to 14 kilometers (9 miles) into the air and generating volcanic lightning.

Heavy charcoal-like ash rained down on towns and villages, blanketing everything. Houses and trees buckled under the weight of it. Affected areas had no power or fresh water.

Outside Sarmiento’s hourse, the once bustling markets are empty, the fields left untended, the lush trees now gray and lifeless.

Many people here made their living off the rich land around the volcano, from fishing in the lake or from the many tourists that visit each year.

The volcano, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of the capital Manila on the island of Luzon, is like a time bomb. Volcanologists warn a bigger eruption could be yet to come — but no one can predict when, or if, it will explode or settle back down.

Sarmiento was at the local fish market when she heard a loud thunder-like sound followed by thick smoke. Her home lies within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of the volcano.

“We went home and I saw my children stuffing all our clothes inside our vehicle, forgetting to put them first inside luggage. We immediately went up to a higher ground,” she said, adding that they stayed with her sister in the nearby town of Santo Tomas.

Thousands like her fled their homes when Taal suddenly rumbled into life. Caught off guard, many sought shelter in temporary evacuation centers carrying only the clothes they were in with little to no possessions.

Seismic activity had been recorded at the volcano since March 2019, but that morning the alert level was at one — meaning a hazardous eruption was not imminent.

“The speed of escalation was unexpected,” said Mark Timbal, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

By 7:30 p.m. the alert was raised to four, with Philippine authorities warning that an “explosive eruption” could happen in the coming hours or days. It prompted authorities to urge a “total evacuation” of people within a 14 kilometer (8.7 miles) danger zone of the volcano.

An explosive eruption could be extremely lethal. Ballistic fragments of magma could be violently expelled from the volcano, pyroclastic flows — fast-moving currents of hot gas and volcanic matter — could swallow anything in its path, and the volcano’s slope slumping into the surrounding lake could create a volcanic tsunami.

Residents would also be at risk from deadly toxic gases emitted from the eruption, and mud flows caused by ash mixing with water vapor in the atmosphere.

The lake that fills the caldera was another concern. Any water that intersects with the hot lava could immediately flash into steam and create an explosive system.

“We just had little time to prepare. From the first eruption at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday to the alert level four, we barely had time,” said Francis Tolentino, Senator and former mayor of Tagaytay, which overlooks the volcano and its lake.

Another bigger eruption could potentially send ash — which carries microscopic shards of glass — 100 kilometers (62 miles) away or more, contaminating the air and water supplies in distant locations. More than 25 million people live within 100 kilometers of the volcano.

The priority was to get almost half a million people living within the danger zone to safety. Towns around the banks of Lake Taal were placed under police lockdown and evacuations enforced.

By the following Saturday more than 70,000 people had sought shelter in 300 temporary evacuation centers. Many more are staying with relatives or friends in other provinces.

But in the days since Taal began erupting, a number of people have risked their lives by refusing to leave or returning home to tend farms and livestock or fetch personal belongings, even though a powerful eruption could happen at any time.

For many residents whose living depends on fishing the lake, a good harvest or for those who live hand to mouth doing odd jobs, staying in an evacuation center for an unknown period, while fields spoil or animals die, is a death sentence of its own.

When the Taal volcano erupted in 1754 it lasted six months. The deadliest eruption took 1,335 lives in 1911, and it lasted a few days.

Renz Mateo, 20, is from a small lake-side barangay in Agoncillo and said he sneaks past police every day to return home from a shelter because he said there is not enough food there.

“Most of the people here went to the evacuation center. I live in a very remote area. We also need water. Whatever we get from evacuation area, we try to maximize it. We lack food and water,” he said.

While government and NGO agencies are working to provide shelters with mats, food, water, clothing and hygiene kits, the conditions are cramped and stifling. The evacuation centers are often schools, gymnasiums, or even basketball courts and families sleep on the cold, hard floor or on folded-up cardboard boxes.

Because of the unpredictability of the volcano, no one knows how long they will have to stay there or whether there will be enough supplies to last the weeks or even months.

Mateo, who was escorted out of his neighborhood carrying a sack of rice on his motorbike by police, said he feels “lost.”

When the mud and ash started falling from the sky, he scrambled to get his mother out of the house and they ran to high ground in the mountains.

“We just take what is given to us. Our house was destroyed, we have nothing, no more house to go back to. We were only able to salvage few personal items,” he said.

The alert level for the volcano remained at four out of a possible five on Saturday. Fissures caused by the pressure from magma moving below the ground have opened up in several areas and deep cracks could be seen carving through roads.

Tremors are also ongoing. Some 666 volcanic earthquakes were recorded since Sunday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS.)

“All these activity increases tell you that something is happening. But none of this says exactly what will happen in exactly what timeframe,” said Joseph Michalski, director of the Earth and Planetary Science division at the University of Hong Kong.

“That’s frustrating for people who want to evacuate or people who need to make decisions.”

At a checkpoint between Laurel and Agoncillo towns, one Batangas police officer whose team was cleaning the thick mud off a road said he was sympathetic to those who returned home. Charged with enforcing the evacuation order, he was torn.

“We are really in a difficult situation because we are mandated by the law to implement whatever our higher ups told us but we cannot help and also sympathize with these people because they are the victims of this eruption. They are worried about their livelihood and get whatever is left from their properties,” said Police Senior Master Sergeant Mar Carabeo.

The whole town of Agoncillo, on the banks of Lake Taal, is a no man’s land due to the extent of mud and ash. it clings to clothes and hair and the smell of sulfur lingers in the air.

Haunting images from those who went back to the Taal volcano island show a desolate landscape of destroyed houses and snapped trees covered in a thick layer of heavy ash. Half-buried bodies of horses and cows that could not escape the island lay in black sludge or floating in the surrounding lake.

Animals that survived the ashfall are caked with dirt and those who can have brought them to relative safety on boats.

PHIVOLCS has designated the entire volcano island as a “Permanent Danger Zone” and recommends strongly against permanent settlements there.

Nevertheless, people have inhabited the island. Some locals living on or near the volcano, many of them laborers or farmers, made money from offering horse rides to tourists. Others built their livelihoods farming the mineral-rich fertile soils that are associated with many volcanoes or fishing tawilis or “live sardines” only found in Batangas province.

The area is known for growing sweet pineapple, coffee called Kapeng barako, and for a dish of thick lomi noodles cooked with garlic. The busy international seaport of Batanagas is close by.

Lake Taal is also a popular attraction and many of the towns in the vicinity are tourism hot spots. There are several amusement parks, lakeside resorts and yacht clubs nearby. And the holiday town of Tagaytay is a popular getaway for Manila residents who often take boats onto the lake and hike up the volcano.

“Eruptions are actually relatively rare, in the greater scheme of things,” said David Phillips, head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. “Many of these landscapes are very beautiful and people want to go visit them.”

“It’s beautiful but it’s also potentially deadly — it’s that fatal attraction,” he continued.

Taal Volcano sits on the Ring of Fire — a horse shoe shaped belt in the Pacific Ocean basin where most of the world’s active volcanoes lie. It’s also where 90% of earthquakes happen as tectonic plates push against each other, causing tremors.

The “ring” stretches along a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) arc from the boundary of the Pacific Plate, to smaller plates such as the Philippine Sea plate, to the Cocos and Nazca Plates that line the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Life for millions of people living around the Ring of Fire can often be precarious as they live and work under the constant threat of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis.

On any given day there could be around 20 volcanoes erupting at any one time, according to the Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program. And perhaps hundreds of earthquakes, according to Earthquake Track.

As one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, the Philippines experiences more than its share of earthquakes, typhoons and other natural disasters.

“We have had a severe year,” said Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Red Cross Philippines.

A series of deadly earthquakes between October and December rattled the southern Philippines, leaving 600,000 people in need of assistance. Two typhoons in December killed at least 26 people and caused millions of dollars of damage.

Even without a potential second eruption of Taal — which could prove devastating for the local economy — the financial effects are already taking their toll.

The ash fall has damaged crops in the area such as corn and coffee, and continues to threaten fish stocks. In Batangas and Cavite provinces, 74,549,300 Philippine pesos ($1.5 million) worth of damage has been caused to agriculture, according to the NDRRMC.

Footage shows farmers surveying their ruined pineapple fields, which are coated in ash. Their harvest, and income for the year, has been lost.

Those in the evacuation zone face an agonizing wait to see if the volcano will explosively erupt, in which they will prepare for disaster, or if Taal will go back to sleep and they can slowly rebuild.

“I don’t know what to do,” said Sarmiento. She hopes the government will be able to “help us rebuild our lives and this barangay.”

Tracking a nice warming trend in the week ahead

WQAD News -

Bitterly cold wind chills will hang on for one more day as an Arctic area of high pressure lingers in the region. Thankfully, winds won't be nearly as gusty compared to Saturday night, meaning wind chills will drop to between -10 and -15.

Monday will be our last truly cold day for a while as a pattern change by Tuesday and especially Wednesday brings much warmer readings back to the Quad Cities.

Monday's highs will be limited to the middle and upper teens, but by Tuesday our winds will switch to a more southerly direction bringing in a warmer air mass and allowing us to climb well into the 20s. We won't have to wait much beyond that to see our first above-freezing day as that arrives on Wednesday.

What follows this warmth is another potent storm system for, you guessed it, the end of the week. Thursday and Friday look to be the main two days where we will be dealing with some sort of wintry weather. At this time, it appears we will see more of a rain and snow mix as opposed to ice when compared with this last system. The reason? This next storm doesn't look like it will reach it's maximum intensity as it gets close, which gives us a break from the freezing rain threat. The accumulating snowfall threat though is a bit higher since the colder air remains locked in place before the system arrives.

While we wait for more details regarding the threats our next storm system will bring, let's have a look back and see where we stand when it comes to snowfall for both the season and beyond.

When looking at December 1st through today, we are still in a deficit thanks to a very quiet December and a similarly quiet start to the month of January. That put us behind about 3 inches compared to normal for that time frame. When you throw the data out even further, going back to July 1st which would encompass our snowy October and November, we are actually in a surplus for snowfall of more than five inches. This category will be trending up in the days ahead as we still have at least one more wintry system to get through.  It will also be important to keep an eye on this value when it comes to the impact river flooding will pose in the months ahead. The more "above normal" snowfall we see, the higher the threat for flooding in the spring.

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke

A stray cat without ears has a new set of purple ones, thanks to an animal lover who crochets

WQAD News -

(CNN) — A stray cat in Wisconsin had her ears removed due to chronic and painful infections. So a helpful woman crocheted her some new ones.

The cat, named Lady in a Fur Coat, was bought into the Dane County Humane Society in December and immediately began treatment for chronic ear infections and hematomas, spokesperson Marissa DeGroot told CNN.

To alleviate her suffering, veterinarians eventually decided to remove Lady’s outer ear flaps — which left her looking a little funny.

It also made shelter employees worried that she wouldn’t be adopted.

That’s when Ash Collins, who works at the Humane Society, decided to crochet Lady an adorable ear bonnet.

With some coaxing (and more than a few treats), Lady fit into her new purple ears.

“It’s amazing because we see these strays and medical cases come in and I think we’re always surprised by their resiliency,” said DeGroot.

The sweet girl, known at the shelter for her love of cuddles and head bumps, was adopted on Tuesday just hours after the Humane Society — which serves the Madison area — posted photos on Facebook of Lady in her new ears.

“Staff and volunteers at Dane County Humane Society consistently go above and beyond for the animals in our care,” Collins told CNN.

“I was more than happy to use my crochet skills to help Lady stand out and get the second chance she deserved, and I’m so honored to be a small part of her happy ending.”

Puerto Rico emergency director fired after residents discover warehouse full of Hurricane Maria supplies

WQAD News -

(CNN) — Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced fired the island’s emergency manager, hours after a warehouse filled with supplies was discovered.

The emergency aid is believed to be from when Hurricane Maria hit the island two years ago, the governor said.

Carlos Acevedo, director of Puerto Rico’s Office of Emergency Management, was dismissed Saturday. The governor appointed Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, the adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard, to replace him.

Earlier on Saturday, numerous pallets of water and other boxes with emergency supplies were found at a warehouse in the earthquake ravaged city of Ponce.

Several residents were seen opening the rolling metal doors of the building and calling for authorities to distribute the supplies. Families began lining up Saturday afternoon outside the warehouse, hoping to get bottled water, food and emergency radios, CNN affiliate WAPA reported.

Acevedo has denied allegations of mishandling, saying the agency has been actively distributing supplies, according to a statement released through the office of emergency management. No residents have been denied any supplies in the warehouse, including food, diapers, baby formula and cots, Acevedo said.

He said about 600 pallets of water were distributed when Hurricane Dorian and Hurricane Karen threatened Puerto Rico and during a drought that affected the island last year. Nearly 80 of those pallets remain in the warehouse because they expired, he said.

“There have not been orders to seize or destroy those items at any point,” Acevedo said in a statement

Vázquez Garced has directed Secretary of State Elmer Roman to investigate the allegations and share his findings within 48 hours.

“There are thousands of people who made sacrifices to bring aid to the south and it’s unforgivable that resources have been kept in a warehouse,” the governor said in a statement.

Puerto Rico has been ravaged by a series of earthquakes since December 28. In the last two weeks, tremors and aftershocks have destroyed or severely damaged hundreds of structures and forced thousands of people in the southern area of the island to flee their homes.

More than 8,000 people have been living in outdoor shelters in the cities of Yauco, Peñuelas, Guánica, Guayanilla and Ponce. Some of those displaced are residents who are too afraid to return home for fear a wall or the roof will collapse.

Web Exclusive: Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- News Eight sat down with U.S. Senator from Minnesota and Democratic Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar on her campaign bus Sunday.

Watch the full interview with her views on impeachment, trade, long-term care and the fight between two of her senate colleagues over whether a woman can win in 2020.

The body of a woman missing for 6 years was found in a car submerged in a New Jersey river

WQAD News -

(CNN) — The body of a woman who had been missing for six years has been found in a New Jersey river, according to State Police Trooper Charles Marchan.

The body was recovered from a submerged car in the Salem River on Thursday, Marchan said, and later identified as that of 52-year-old Vanessa Smallwood, who was last seen on January 27, 2014.

Divers from the Walker Diving Underwater Construction Company were removing debris from the river when they saw what they believed to be human remains in the car, state police said in a news release.

Authorities responded and recovered the body, it said.

According to a FBI missing persons poster, Smallwood was last seen at a dry cleaning business in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, driving a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van.

The Southern Regional Coroner’s Office will perform an autopsy on the body, New Jersey State Police said. The case remains under investigation.

CNN has reached out to the Southern Regional Coroner’s Office for comment.

An abandoned husky with ‘weird’ eyes has been adopted after her photos went viral

WQAD News -

(CNN) — A Siberian husky that was surrendered to a New Jersey shelter because of “weird” eyes has been adopted after photos posted on Facebook went viral.

Jubilee, a 4-year-old female pup, has an eyelid deformity that makes it appear as if she’s always surprised.

A breeder gave her to Husky House in 2018, telling the nonprofit shelter in Matawan that Jubilee couldn’t be sold because she was too “weird” looking.

Despite the congenital issue with her eyelids, Jubilee doesn’t suffer from any other health issues.

“She has been thoroughly checked out by our vets,” a Husky House representative told CNN. “It does not affect her in any way or slow her down one bit. She is happy and healthy.”

But for the past two years, Jubilee has struggled to find a loving family to care for her.

Husky House took to Facebook on Tuesday with a heartbreaking doggy plea for her adoption.

“I came from a ‘breeder’ who couldn’t sell me because he said I was ‘weird’ looking,” the shelter wrote. “Huskies are majestic looking dogs and I don’t know why I don’t look like them.”

“I wish I was beautiful so someone would want me to be their dog.”

Caretakers at Husky House were worried the plea wouldn’t work, but to their surprise it went viral.

More than 150 people applied to adopt Jubilee, the Husky House representative told CNN.

“Since the original Facebook post went viral, we received an overwhelming amount of love, support, and inquiries, including adoption requests,” the representative said. “We are so happy to see that everyone feels she is as wonderful as we always knew she was.”

Husky House announced on Saturday that Jubilee has found her “forever home” with a family that had previously adopted a dog from them.

At least two Honolulu police officers killed in shooting, report says

WQAD News -

(CNN) — At least two Honolulu police officers were killed in a shooting Sunday morning in the Diamond Head area, according to CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

The station reported the suspect in the shooting apparently set a home on fire on Hibiscus Drive.

Honolulu Police said the area of Hibiscus Drive was closed because of a police investigation. Video from Hawaii News Now showed several homes on that street engulfed in flames.

CNN has not yet independently confirmed the details of the incident provided by Hawaii News Now.

Earlier, FBI Honolulu Operational Support Technician Derek Hayes told CNN the FBI was responding to an “active shooter” in Honolulu. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also responding, the agency said on Twitter.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted his “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of the two officers and the department.

“This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawai’i,” Caldwell wrote.

This story is developing.


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