Tag Archives: Residents

Pavement parking: Residents set to back changes as they are ‘fed up’ with blocked paths

Residents in West Norfolk have attacked drivers who stop on the side of the path which leaves locals forced to “walk in the road”. One local from Dersingham village near Kings Lynn said she fears “cars could come along” the road when they are on it avoiding parked traffic.

It could see road users issued a £70 fine for stopping their vehicles half on and half off the kerbs if the rule is passed.

The move is set to be backed by many residents in villages and towns after a surge of parking complaints from residents.

Sarah Bristow, the Parish Clerk for Dersingham Parish Council said she had received comments about a range of parking problems near the coast.

However, she confirmed no formal complaints have been received meaning officials may not be aware of the problem.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Life and Style
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Introducing the 2021 WIRED Resiliency Residents

Over the next six months, five professionals from outside of journalism will give WIRED readers an inside perspective on their changing fields.

WIRED’s Resilience Residency was announced earlier this year to provide non-journalists the opportunity to report on how technology and science are transforming their own industries. Over 200 people answered our call for proposals, representing 30 different states and dozens of fields.

Today we are pleased to introduce our five residents for 2021. Over the next six months, they will work with WIRED’s editorial team to tell powerful stories with an insider’s perspective and start new conversations about the future. Our aim is for everyone—residents, WIRED employees, and our audience—to benefit from the exchange of expertise, perspectives, and experiences.

Meet the Residents

Melanie Canales is a first-generation Peruvian American farmer and beekeeper based in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, on Monacan and Mannahoac lands. Her work focuses on creating healthy relationships between people and their surrounding ecosystem through soil regeneration and food sovereignty. As a resident, she’s interested in stories about land stewardship and the ways communities have started decolonizing agriculture to make it more accessible and sustainable.

Jake Galdo, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, BCGP, is a community pharmacist with a background in academia, health care quality, and technology. His residency is focused on the transformation of community pharmacy practice and patient empowerment. Galdo is an alumnus of the University of Georgia and Samford University and resides in Alabama with his family.

Harris Quinn is the founder of menswear brand H. Goose. His residency will focus on change in the apparel industry and the evolving nature of how we dress. Previously, he founded a digital marketing startup and spent six years on active duty as a cryptologic linguist for the United States Navy. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina.

Enrique Sanabria is a senior airport engineer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. His curiosity for technology turned into a passion for aviation, and he has spent much of his life in and around the Metro-NYC airports, both as a hobbyist and technical specialist. His residency will explore the airport of the future.

Suhita Shirodkar is an urban sketcher, illustrator, and educator based in San Jose, California. She has been the recipient of grants from the Knight Foundation and Belle Foundation. Suhita will use visual reportage to look at how grassroots arts communities are using technology to adapt, innovate, and reinvent themselves.

The WIRED Resilience Residency is made possible by Microsoft. WIRED content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists. Learn more about this program.

More Great WIRED Stories

Author: Caitlin Kelly
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Diversity of Pediatric Residents, Fellows Continues to Lag

Researchers acknowledged that some of the factors contributing to the low proportion of minorities in the pediatric workforce may include educational disparities starting in primary or secondary school, such as underfunded schools and lack of educational resources.

“Something I really appreciated about the paper is that this goes beyond a student stepping into medical school, finding a mentor in pediatrics, and then eventually matriculating into a pediatric residency,” said Christle Nwora, MD, an internal medicine–pediatrics resident physician at Johns Hopkins Urban Health Residency Program in Baltimore, who was not involved in the study. “I like the idea of knowing that people aren’t going into the field and being very critical as to why.”

Prior studies, including a 2019 study published in JAMA Network Open, has found that minority students remain underrepresented in medical schools. However, this most recent study, published in Pediatrics, is one of the first to report trends in the race or ethnicity of pediatric residents and fellows.

“It’s been pretty well documented throughout the medical literature that the representation of underrepresented [groups] in medicine is low among all specialties,” study author Kimberly Montez, MD, MPH, FAAP, said in an interview. “This is one of the first studies that [show this trend] in pediatrics, [but] we were kind of expecting [these findings] knowing the rest of the literature out there.”

Montez and colleagues examined self-reported race and ethnicity data from 2007 to 2019 for pediatric residents and fellows from the GME Census reports. The annual number of pediatric trainees increased from 7,964 to 8,950 between 2007 and 2019. For pediatric subspecialty fellows, that number increased from 2,684 to 3,966.

The number of underrepresented pediatric trainees also increased over time, from 1,277 to 1,478 residents and 382 to 532 subspecialty fellows. However, researchers found that the trend in proportion of underrepresented in medicine (URiM) trainees was unchanged in pediatric residencies – 16% in 2007 to 16.5% in 2019 – and, overall, decreased for URiM subspecialty fellows from 14.2% in 2007 to 13.5% in 2019.

“I was shocked at the fact that there has been no significant increase either over the last 12 years,” said Joan Park, MD, a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, who was not involved in the study. “In the news, we’re seeing way more discussions in regards to racism and representation and the fact that that hasn’t really fueled or caught fire yet in medicine at all to really move that arrow is definitely really shocking.”

The recent study also pointed out that the percentage of underrepresented groups in pediatric residencies and fellowships is considerably lower in comparison with those groups’ representations in the U.S. population. For example, Black or African American people make up 13.4% of the U.S. population but just 5.6% of pediatric trainees. Meanwhile, American Indian or Alaskan Native people make up 1.3% of the U.S. population but make up 0.2% of pediatric trainees.

Montez hypothesized that the lack of underrepresented groups as pediatric trainees — or in the medical field, in general — may have to do with systemic barriers that span the entire educational continuum and affects them even before they reach medical school, including attendance at underfunded primary and secondary schools.

“Just think about all the barriers that exist for underrepresented minorities in medicine,” said Montez, assistant professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. “We know that underrepresented minorities are accepted and matriculate at lower rates than [those of] their nonminority counterparts. All of this occurs even just before getting into the field of pediatrics. So multiple barriers exist.”

Those barriers may also include racism, bias, and discrimination, which may play out unconsciously when members of an underrepresented group are applying for residencies or med school, such as “recognizing a name that may be from a different ethnic or racial background and then unconsciously biasing yourself against that applicant, for example,” Montez explained.

Montez said that although there has been progress, there is still a long way to go. She hopes the study will help academic institutions and professional organizations recognize the importance of diversity in pediatrics. She noted that pediatric trainees are more likely to experience microaggressions, which could potentially cause them to leave a program.

“I hope this will galvanize pediatric programs to really think a lot about the environment that they create for underrepresented minority trainees and also about their recruitment process in terms of making sure it’s standardized, using a holistic review,” Montez explained.

In 2016, the Association of American Medical Colleges published a diversity and inclusion strategic planning guide to improve training programs. Furthermore, in 2019, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education instituted a new common program requirement on diversity that requires programs to focus on systematic recruitment and retention of a diverse and inclusive workforce of residents and fellows.

“The same way pediatricians are aware of how the environment will shape the way a child grows up, we have to be mindful of the way an environment that surrounds the medical student will shape where they eventually end up as well,” said Nwora.

The experts disclosed no conflicts of interest.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Anxious Residents of Sister Tower to Fallen Florida Condo Wonder: Stay or Go?

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Philip Zyne peered over the balcony of his condo near Miami Beach around midday on Saturday and pointed to a large crack running in the parking lot below his unit.

Normally, he might not have given it a moment’s thought. But Mr. Zyne, 71, lives at Champlain Towers North, the sister condo complex to the building in Surfside, Fla., that partially collapsed into a mass of rubble on Thursday, leaving four people dead and 159 missing. Now he was on high alert: Could the building where he lives be next?

“I would’ve never noticed that if this hadn’t happened,” Mr. Zyne said.

It is a question on the minds of many South Floridians, especially those in older, beachfront buildings that are faced day in and day out with similar outside conditions as the Champlain Towers South: salty air, rising seas, aging concrete.

On Saturday, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County announced a 30-day audit of all buildings 40 years and older under the county’s jurisdiction, which does not include cities like Miami and Surfside, where the building fell.

Mayor Charles W. Burkett of Surfside said he was considering asking residents of Champlain Towers North to voluntarily evacuate as a precaution until their building, which has had no reports of serious problems, could be thoroughly inspected. Inspectors from the town and county spent several hours giving the building an initial inspection on Saturday afternoon, according to the town and the condo board.

From the outside, Champlain Towers North, at 8877 Collins Ave., seems identical to Champlain Towers South — same developer and same design, built just one year apart. Most terrifying for Mr. Zyne is that his unit is in the same part of the building as the apartments that crumbled in the South complex, those facing the pool and the Atlantic.

“It’s scary,” said Bud Thomas, 55, his neighbor upstairs, as he also looked out on Saturday. “I’m hoping that this one doesn’t have the same structural problems as the other one.”

Members of the condominium board, who are longtime Champlain Towers North residents, said in interviews on Saturday that they are confident their building is in far better shape than the South building was, as a result of prompt and continuous maintenance.

But that has not reassured some of their residents, some of whom hastily packed bags and found other places to sleep for at least a few days in the immediate aftermath of the nearby disaster.

The Zynes left their apartment to stay with their daughter but came back on Saturday. They recalled being awakened in the early hours of Thursday by an alarm signaling that the lights had gone out in their condominium. It was only later that they realized the lights had gone out at about the same time that the nearby building had collapsed.

Nora Zyne, 69, lost three friends who remained unaccounted for.

“I feel extremely saddened — I’ve known them for 30 years,” she said. “We were all so close. I felt a sense of — can you imagine being at home in the safest place, you’re sleeping and that horrific —” Her thought trailed off. “I pray that they were asleep and don’t know what happened. You lost people you shared your life with. I can’t understand how something like that could happen.”

Ruby Issaev, a former tenant of the South towers, bought an apartment with her husband in the North towers four years ago. After the collapse, she moved into her daughter’s place a few miles away. She is not sure if she will return — and already misses the community that sustained her in the building during the pandemic.

“Even if nothing happened” to her building, she said, the absence of the South towers will be tough: “I wonder if my neighborhood will be the same.”

On Saturday, a family of four left the building carrying their belongings and grocery bags en route to a nearby hotel. “We just want to move out, just for safety,” said one member of the family, who declined to be identified.

The atmosphere in the building lobby was somewhat tense as some residents who had heard about a possible evacuation tried to press condo board members for more information.

“Have people looked at the water in the basement?” Betty Clarick, 82, who lives on the fifth floor, asked Ms. Gandelman in the lobby. (Ms. Clarick also called the building’s maintenance and management “excellent.”)

“Of course I’ve been apprehensive,” said Rafik Ayoub, 76, a second-floor resident who has lived in the building for 17 years. “We just want to make sure that our building gets inspected thoroughly.” (“They building is run very well,” he added.)

Minutes from a November condo board meeting obtained by The New York Times showed that some maintenance work was underway in hallways, which have been stripped of their baseboards and in some cases remained covered in plastic. The board also discussed a concern about planters near the pool that were leaking into the parking garage below, a problem similar to one of the most serious deficiencies identified in a 2018 engineer’s report about what was causing rebar to rust and concrete to crumble in the South towers.

A third building, Champlain Towers East, which was erected in 1994 with a different design from the other condos, stands between the North towers and the remains of the South towers.

Champlain Towers North was built in 1982, a year after Champlain Towers South. Its mandatory 40-year building recertification is due next year. Naum Lusky, the president of the condo board, said the association had begun to work with inspectors ahead of that date but now would accelerate efforts in light of the South tragedy.

He emphasized that the board in that building has addressed aging building problems as they have come up in order to avoid the kind of major repairs that had been identified as necessary in the South building before half of it came down. He accompanied the town and county inspectors on a tour of the building on Saturday and said no big problems were apparent.

“This building is spick and span,” he said. “There is no comparison” to the sister condo.

In a show of his confidence, Mr. Lusky, 81, who has lived in the North towers for 22 years, stayed in the building after the neighboring collapse.

Last year, the building inspected all balconies to look for water leaks and fix them. Work on the pool deck was completed about six months ago, said Hilda Gandelman, another condo board member. That work addressed the leaky planters, according to Mr. Lusky. The building manager declined to be interviewed.

Ms. Gandelman said she knows three of the people missing in the South towers. She said her friends from that condo would come visit and note that the North complex was in better shape.

“They used to come to this building and they used to say, ‘Oh my goodness, this building is so well-kept,’” she said. “‘In our building they have to ask for so many special assessments,’” her neighbors told her, she said.

John Pistorino, a Miami structural engineer, said that the collapse of the South towers did not necessarily mean that the North towers — or any other buildings in the area — were at particular risk of collapse.

“This collapse is so unusual, I don’t think this is indicative of all the buildings we have up and down the coast,” he said. But he added that the collapse was “certainly a warning to do due diligence on all the buildings, including that particular one,” to make sure that the buildings have been well maintained.

It was difficult not to worry about a 39-year-old building so similar to a 40-year-old building that fell in such stunning fashion. Mr. Burkett, the Surfside mayor, said beachfront residents from across his small town have called him, nervous.

“Are the buildings on the ocean safe?” they asked him.

What to do took over part of a special meeting of the Town Council on Friday. After consulting with other officials, including Ms. Levine Cava, Mr. Burkett said on Saturday that a voluntary evacuation might be a good idea. He planned to approach the condo board, which has scheduled a meeting for Sunday morning.

“We would rather not make it mandatory,” he said. “If there are people in that building who are comfortable staying here, it seems to me the chances are low that we’d have the same exact problem with that building. But personally I would not want to take that chance.”

Sophie Kasakove contributed reporting and Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Author: Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, Patricia Mazzei and Joseph B. Treaster
This post originally appeared on NYT > Top Stories

Boil water notice lifted for Lake Jackson residents after low pressure

LAKE JACKSON, Texas (KTRK) — The city of Lake Jackson lifted its boil water notice Monday morning after city officials announced a drop in water pressure Saturday afternoon.

As of 8:30 a.m., residents are no longer required to boil water before use, according to a press release from the city.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reportedly required city officials to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption.

On Sunday, city said authorities were still testing the water due to requirements when pressure reaches below a certain level.

“The public water system has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes and has provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling prior to use as of June 21, 2021,” Monday’s press release said.

This boil water notice came months after a previous advisory was issued when a 6-year-old boy died after coming in contact with contaminated water.

The family of Josiah McIntyre said he became sick after playing in a Lake Jackson splashpad.

According to officials, water samples taken from that splashpad were in fact contaminated with a brain-eating amoeba. Officials from the city of Lake Jackson said they were responsible for Josiah’s death.

SEE ALSO: City officials in Lake Jackson take responsibility after amoeba threat

A boil water advisory can be issued under a number of circumstances from natural disasters, like in the aftermath of hurricanes and winter storms, to sudden emergencies like a water main break.

The notices are issued when an area’s water is, or could be, contaminated with bacteria that could make you sick.

Boiling kills disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria and parasites.

You’ll want to boil water before you do anything that involves human consumption, such as drinking, cooking, and brushing your teeth.

The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are some common questions and answers about boil water advisories.

What should I do if a boil water advisory is in effect?

If you have bottled water available for drinking and to prepare and cook food, you can use that. But if bottled water isn’t available, it’s advised you:

  • Bring water to a full rolling boil for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for three minutes)
  • Allow the water to cool before use
  • Boil tap water, even if it is filtered
  • Don’t use water from any appliance connected to your water line, such as ice and water from a refrigerator
  • Breastfeeding is the best infant feeding option. If you formula feed your child, provide ready-to-use formula, if that’s available

Note that many cities and communities surrounding the Houston area said you can boil the water for at least two minutes.

SEE ALSO: Boil orders in effect for much of the Houston area

Is it safe to brush my teeth?

Only brush teeth with boiled or bottled water. Do not use untreated tap water.

What about hand washing under a boil water notice?

  • In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands. Still, follow the guidance of your local health officials.
  • Make sure you scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Rinse hands well under running water.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Is it safe to bathe and shower?

You can use the water for bathing and showering, but you must be careful not to swallow it. Use extra caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath instead.

Can I wash dishes and laundry under a boil order?

According to the CDC, it is safe to wash clothes as usual. But you’ll need to follow a few more guidelines for dishes.

  • If possible, use disposable plates, cups, and utensils during a boil water advisory
  • Household dishwashers generally are safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.55 degrees Celcius), or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle

What if I need to clean?

Use bottled water, boiled water, or water that has been disinfected with bleach to clean washable toys and surfaces.

Follow these CDC guidelines carefully as it relates to using bleach.

How do I care for my pets under a boil order?

Provide bottled or boiled water after it has been cooled for pets. Why? Because they can get sick by some of the same germs as people or pets can even spread germs to people.

You’ll need to follow the order until your local health or city officials have deemed it safe to end it and resume consumption.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Police cancel shelter in place for east side 18th/MLK residents after incident Sunday morning

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s now safe for residents in the east side area of 18th Street and MLK to come out of their homes, Austin police say.

At around 6:45 a.m., Austin Police Department urged residents to shelter in place due to an incident involving a person in the area but as of 8 a.m., the order had ended.

The scene is no longer active.

Further details will not be released.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Evictions Surprised Trailer Park Residents, Protest Stunned Officials

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Under a slate-colored sky, the holdouts gathered in what remained of the North Fork Mobile Home Park. Around them it looked as if a hurricane had blown through, leaving scattered cinder blocks, capsized sofas and porches affixed to thin air. The small circle — among them single mothers, a factory worker, a retiree, two community organizers — sat on kitchen chairs discussing their next move: recruiting for a boycott.

“People are going to slam their doors in our face, but we’ll do it anyway,” said Mindy Davenport, 57, who has lived in the park for 26 years. One of the organizers sympathized: It was hard to talk to people you did not know.

Ms. Davenport, a former preschool aide, laughed. That was not the issue. “I know everybody in this town,” she said.

For more than two months, a fight has burned in Morehead, a small college town in the hills of eastern Kentucky. It began in early March, when the residents of roughly 65 mobile homes at North Fork were told they had a month and a half to leave and take their homes with them. A new development was coming, bringing restaurants and stores, jobs and tax revenue. The city was subsidizing it. The trailer park had to go.

But as soon as the eviction letters went out, a protest campaign erupted, with chants and rallies, messages of support sent from as far away as California and Maine, and visits from prominent state voices like Charles Booker, a likely Democratic candidate for the 2022 U.S. Senate race. Current and former residents have loudly registered their dissent — with actions like the planned boycott of the eventual shopping center — and laid out a list of proposals to mostly unreceptive city officials, including financial compensation for people forced to move.

And though most of the homes have now been hauled away or left behind, the campaign has rolled on, along with a debate over the obligations of a city to those dislodged by its growth and a lesson about how combative democracy has become — even in a small town — in an age of social media and protest.

“Over the past two years, I have been in a lot of different things, with Black Lives Matter protesting and organizing,” said Faith Plank, 17, who now lives with her sister and mother in an apartment that is much smaller than their mobile home but costs nearly three times as much. “However, in this case, I don’t think I expected it to go this far.”

The owner of the park and the local officials were caught by surprise. People had always talked of wanting more restaurants and stores, said Harry Clark, the judge executive in Rowan County, where Morehead sits. And while he expected some understandable resistance to the evictions from the long-term residents of the park, he said, “it surprised me how mean they got.”

Joanne Fraley, who with her late husband had owned the park for years, said she, too, was taken aback by the response, insisting that she had been more accommodating than Kentucky law requires.

“It is my intent to leave no one homeless,” she said. But “it’s basically quite simple. I own my own property. I have the right to sell it.”

The park is decades old, sitting on what was once the Fraley family farm. Most of the residents owned their trailers, paying rent — most recently, $ 125 a month — for the lots on which the trailers stood. A number of homes had been there for many years and, even if well-kept on the inside, were no longer in shape to be moved.

Some people had come to the park to escape abusive home lives, some to be closer to jobs at the shopping center across the road and some because it was simply what they could afford. North Fork may have been scruffy in spots but it was a neighborhood, with gardens and mutual babysitting and chats over morning coffee.

It is unclear when plans for a development were first broached; the developer, from Lexington, Ky., told a news station the project had been in the works for nearly two years. One of the first public discussions was in September, when a development consultant made a presentation to the Morehead City Council, proposing a tax increment financing plan to subsidize a retail center where the trailer park stood.

“We would consider that to be some blight, if you will,” the consultant said. “But we have a plan to redevelop that site in a way that maximizes its value.”

Neither the mayor nor the developer returned messages seeking comment.

Notices of a hearing on the plan ran in tiny font in the back pages of a local newspaper, a weekly that few in the park read. Still, with most city meetings streamed on Facebook, word got out.

Ms. Davenport was sitting outside her trailer one afternoon, looking after a group of children, when a neighbor drove by with the news. “‘They’ve sold the trailer park’,” she recalled him saying. “‘They’re going to build a shopping center.’”

Months of rumor followed. Residents called the property manager constantly, several said, and the answer was always the same: No, nothing has been sold.

“I was not going to go out there and make this big announcement that my property was sold and they’d better start looking around and then have the contract fall through,” Ms. Fraley said. “At a time when there was Covid, there was maybe a chance it wouldn’t have gone through. And if I’d done that, I’d be sitting there with an empty piece of property.”

Some stopped paying rent. One resident started an online fund-raiser. In December, a resident wrote to Mr. Clark, lamenting that neither the city nor the park manager would give anyone straight answers. Mr. Clark wrote back that a sale appeared likely and advised him to “begin looking for new lots and accommodations immediately.” He also wrote that Ms. Fraley was offering $ 1,000 per household to help pay for moves that typically cost several thousand dollars. (A nonprofit organization would soon offer additional money, though not everyone qualified.)

Still, many at North Fork did not know whether a mass eviction was really going to happen, and what options they would have if it did. Ashley Caudill, a former resident, said she called more than a dozen mobile home parks in the county and found most were either full or not accepting trailers older than a certain age, a cutoff that would disqualify some of the mobile homes in North Fork. Those owners would have to abandon their homes, or sell them for cheap.

Finally, in March, the official letter came. “NOTICE TO VACATE.” They had until April 30.

Given the distinctive status of mobile home communities — made up at the same time of renters and established homeowners — a number of states have passed legal protections for residents, said Carolyn Carter, the deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center. Some mandate at least six months advance notice for a park’s closure; that period is two years in Massachusetts. Some require that residents be given the collective opportunity to buy their community if it is going to be sold.

“This isn’t Massachusetts,” Ms. Fraley said. Indeed, Kentucky has none of these laws.

Few in North Fork said they were opposed to the development in principle. What infuriated them was that a developer, a property owner and their own government representatives had worked together for months or perhaps years on a project that would throw their lives into disarray and nobody had reached out to them. Their neighborhood was simply, in the word used at the City Council meeting, “blight.”

“I used to be a little shy about telling people where I lived because I was a little nervous that they would look at me differently,” Faith Plank said. She does not feel that way anymore, she said. A few nights earlier, she had stood up at a crowded City Council meeting and talked about her trailer park and how beautiful it was.

Author: Campbell Robertson
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Fifth Ward residents say their babies are latest to see effects of creosote contamination

effects of creosote contamination

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — People in a Houston-area neighborhood said the land they’re living on is literally killing them.

Just yards away from the Union Pacific Railyard off Liberty Street, a group of neighbors gather to talk. They’re rattling off how many children they know born with a condition or birth defect.

“We all had to deal with it. I know at least every person I grew up with within this area,” Kashmere Garden’s resident Nakia Osbourne said. “I’m 44 right now, almost 45. Half of them have a child that has a disability.”

Osbourne’s son, Charlie, was one of them. He was born with autism and severe intellectual disabilities. He died in 2014 at the age of 13 from a burn accident, but Osbourne said his life proves what everyone already knows. Creosote, once used at the Union Pacific facility, hit the community hard.

“They destroyed a lot of people’s lives,” Osburne said. “Because people were dying from cancer. Mothers were dying from cancer like crazy. And now the kids. Now it’s trickling down to the kids. The great-grandkids.”

In March 2020, the Texas Department of State Health Services published a study on birth defects in children living near the railyard. The Houston Health Department requested the evaluation in response to public concern.

SEE ALSO: Residents and mayor demand accountability for Kashmere Gardens ‘cancer cluster’

Initial data showed that from 2000 to 2016, Gastroschisis was twice as common in that area compared to Harris County as a whole. Gastroschisis is a problem with the belly wall that leaves the intestines exposed. The state says once they factored in that young mothers are more likely to have babies with that condition, the babies born there weren’t sicker than any other neighborhood.

Sandra Edwards, who’s been on the front line for the neighborhood, says no. Things really are as bad as they seem.

“This is out here and it’s real. They’re killing us. They’re killing babies before they even get here,” she explained.

Jackie Medcalf is the Executive Director of Texas Health and Environmental Alliance, a nonprofit grassroots group. She’s been helping Edwards and her neighbors.

“This report showed some really alarming things for moms. For people of the community,” Medcalf said. “Our children are the most vulnerable, and now, we’re seeing in this community, have a higher rate of terrible birth defects.”

Medcalf found out about this study in April 2021, more than a year after it was released. The Houston Health Department says it did notify some community members, but perhaps it was overlooked or misinterpreted. Regardless, Medcalf says comparing birth defects to a highly diseased county like Harris makes no sense.

“We need the state to compare the prevalence of birth defects in this community to the state average. Right now, they’ve only compared it to averages across Harris County. We need them to be comparing them to more normalcy across the State of Texas,” she said.

The people who’ve called this swath of the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens home for generations feel unheard and left to fend for themselves. In August 2019, a Department of State Health Services study came out showing they had higher than normal adult cancers. According to the EPA, that is mostly due to cancer-causing agents in the environment. Another DSHS study months later showed children in that area had higher than normal leukemia rates.

SEE ALSO: Residents say high cancer rate caused by nearby rail yard

Now, they’re talking about birth defects and complications.

“This (is) the latest blow upside the head. I thought I had hit a home run, and then a ball came and hit me upside the head and knocked me down,” Edwards said. “I didn’t even make it to home base. They left everybody over here for dead. I mean, there’s proof. You can see it. There’s only five left.”

In an email sent to Medcalf, DSHS addressed the area surrounding the Union Pacific railyard, saying: “This is a high priority for the agency, and we are working closely with the community and local, state, and federal partners to provide the public with accurate information.”

Union Pacific has held several community meetings and now has signage warning residents about the soil danger on their land.

SEE ALSO: Neighbors in “cancer cluster” upset about new Union Pacific construction

The neighborhood formed a group called IMPACT and have legal counsel. They’ve also got Medcalf’s organization and a number of others fighting for their cause, which they said is Union Pacific coming out and righting their wrongs.

“The community deserves to you know, get to the bottom of the bigger picture of what’s going on with their health and their environment,” Medcalf explained.

The Houston Health Department has been actively pushing the state for answers and has sent its mobile air quality testing unit to continuously monitor for contaminants.

“The neighborhood is abandoned because people are getting sick and people don’t want to live here anymore. They (Union Pacific) needs to come and help clean up what they’ve destroyed,” Osbourne said.

ABC13 asked Union Pacific to weigh in on the birth defects study, but we have not received a statement.

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Author: Erica Simon

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Austin's homeless residents fear what's next once camping ban takes effect

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While a controversial ban on public camping motivated Austin voters to get to the polls — and passed Saturday with nearly 58% of the vote — by Monday, many of Austin’s homeless still seemed unaware that the proposition existed, let alone passed.

Dozens of tents remain set up downtown beneath the I-35 overpass at 6th and 7th streets.

Abigail Wilson is among those who just found out about the Prop B ban. She said she had no interest in going to a shelter, and instead would seek refuge in a more isolated spot.

“I like to live off the grid. And living outside and in a tent,” she said. “And living like I want to.”

Rebecca Shivers said she came here from Missouri and was surprised to find there weren’t more homeless resources in a state as wealthy as Texas.

“Texas has got all this money, they should not be out here like this,” she said. “They got all them apartments coming to them, they need to give us all one.”

Speaking outside his tent, Gared Goff was aware of the new law. He admitted he’s worried, unsure of where he’ll go.

“The fear of the unknown, that’s where we’re at now with everybody,” he said. “Everybody can put on a façade, but in the end where are we going to go? We’ve got a lot of women out here, kids, what are they going to do?”

Teri Klima poked her head out of her tent to express frustration with the new law, which she also already knew about. She also is without a plan for shelter.

“I don’t know what I would do,” Klima said. “I have to go live out in the streets. Can’t take your tent or nothing, you know. I just pray to God that it works out.”

Latasha Price said she’s struggled to secure a spot in a shelter — and only recently secured a spot at the Salvation Army. Proposition B and its passage was news to her. Now she’s worried about her friends still living on the streets.

“They don’t have no openings for the people at the Salvation Army, so it’s women that’s out here that’s getting raped and stuff at night,” she said. “So this is really like needed for the people that don’t have nowhere to go.”

The 2020 count of Austin’s homeless population showed 2,506 people experiencing homelessness, with 932 living unsheltered.

That represents an 11% increase in overall homelessness over 2019 and a 45% increase in unsheltered homelessness.

The 2021 homeless count did not happen in person because of the pandemic.

Author: Tom Miller
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

SHELTER IN PLACE: Northwest Austin apartment complex residents asked to stay inside, lock doors

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Residents of the Hendrix Apartments on 9815 Copper Creek Drive are being asked to stay inside their homes and lock the doors on Tuesday afternoon after reports of a barricaded person in the area.

Williamson County reports local law enforcement has enacted a shelter in place notice at 10:18 a.m. for the vicinity. The reason for the notice hasn’t yet been reported.

Residents should stay inside until given further notice. Community members should also avoid the area as Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Police Department respond.

KXAN will update this with more information as it becomes available.