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    Health workers say they are seeing signs of mental stress among residents impacted by Hurricane Michael, and problems could continue as a short-term disaster turns into a long-term recovery that will take years. Tony Averbuch leads a disaster medical assistance team that's seeing as many as 100 patients daily. He says some people are showing signs of fraying. It's not hard to imagine: Just getting to the treatment site involves navigating streets with roadblocks and fallen utility lines. Signs of trauma aren't a surprise for those who studied people after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. One post-Katrina study found that, five years after the storm, parents reported more than 37 percent of children had been clinically diagnosed with depression, anxiety or a behavior disorder.
  • For nearly a decade, opposition to former President Barack Obama's health care law has been a winning message for Nebraska Republicans. It's helped them win every statewide office, control the Legislature and hold all the state's congressional seats. So it was something of a surprise for Bob Tatum when he set out to ask his fellow Nebraskans if they would back a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, one of the pillars of Obama's health overhaul. 'There seems to be a lot more support than I anticipated,' said Tatum, who lives in a remote town near the Colorado border. It took him little more than a week to gather over 100 petition signatures in Perkins County, where roughly 70 percent of the 1,963 registered voters are Republicans. Tatum, 66, also is a Republican but differs from most of his party's elected officials. He supports the Medicaid expansion because his job as an ambulance driver brings him into frequent contact with working people who can't afford insurance but earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid. 'When I was circulating petitions, pretty much everyone signed it without objection,' Tatum said. 'I didn't expect that to be the case in rural Nebraska.' Nebraska isn't the only conservative state where residents are bypassing a legislature that has refused to expand Medicaid. Voters in two other Republican-dominated states, Idaho and Utah, also will decide in November whether to expand the health insurance program to more lower-income Americans. Another ballot initiative, in Montana, seeks to raise a tobacco tax to keep funding a Medicaid expansion that is set to expire. It also has become a focal point in numerous governor's races. The election-year push in conservative-leaning states for one of the main aspects of Obama's health care law has surprised many Republican lawmakers after they spent years attacking it. Most GOP lawmakers in Idaho staunchly opposed expansion efforts there and cast it as a welfare program that would deepen the state's reliance on the federal government. Supporters responded by gathering more than 75,000 petition signatures, far exceeding the minimum threshold to qualify for the ballot. Expansion advocates launched a petition drive in Utah after continued resistance from the Republican-dominated Legislature. Utah lawmakers did expand coverage to about 6,000 of the state's neediest residents last year and approved another expansion measure with work requirements, but the federal government hasn't yet accepted that plan. Expansion advocates say it still leaves tens of thousands of people without insurance. Other states have seen Medicaid expansion become a top issue in their governor's race, with Democratic candidates forcing Republicans to defend their opposition. In Tennessee, Democratic contender Karl Dean argues that the state already has lost out on $4 billion in federal money by refusing to participate. 'That money is being spent in other states,' Dean said in a recent debate. 'We need to get our Medicaid dollars back here.' His Republican opponent, Bill Lee, noted that Tennessee had expanded its Medicaid program long before Obama was even in office, but rolled it back in 2003 to balance the budget. 'We expanded Medicaid before, and it ended up failing and it almost broke the state,' he said. Democrat Stacey Abrams is promoting expansion as a way to improve health care access in rural parts of Georgia where hospitals have closed, partly due to the expense of caring for the uninsured. Republican Brian Kemp said Abrams wants to 'double down on big government programs that cost too much and fail to deliver.' Medicaid expansion also has been in the spotlight in the Florida, Kansas and Wisconsin governor's races. About 12 million Americans have gained coverage under the expansion in the 33 states that opted for it under the Obama health care reforms. The program extends Medicaid to cover more low-income adults, including those with no children at home, and the federal government picks up most of the cost. A government report released this past week found that lower-income people in states that did not broaden access to Medicaid were much more likely to skip needed medical care than people in states that did. In Nebraska, Amanda Gershon is among those who went without. As a single, childless adult, she wasn't eligible for regular Medicaid after a series of autoimmune disorders in 2013 rendered her too sick to work. The Lincoln resident remained uninsured for two years before she qualified for Social Security disability benefits that allowed her to receive coverage. Even then, the enrollment process took nine months. Without the prescription drugs, tests and surgeries that could have helped her earlier, Gershon said she suffered needlessly and wasn't able to hold a job. A co-sponsor of the petition drive to qualify the initiative, she said she grew frustrated with lawmakers who opposed the Medicaid expansion because none of them proposed alternatives that would have helped her. 'It's hard to understand,' said Gershon, now 36. 'They are there to represent the people, and it does seem like a majority of people see this as a good thing.' Kathy Campbell is among the few Republicans who were not surprised by the citizen effort to circumvent the Legislature. As a state lawmaker, she had pushed repeatedly for Medicaid expansion before being termed out of office last year. 'People want good health care policy,' she said. 'They're much more informed about it than you might think. I think that's why you had so many people sign the petition.' Politicians who steadfastly opposed the Medicaid expansion in Nebraska say the initiative's supporters don't understand the consequences. 'I don't believe anybody (in the Legislature) who voted against it is really opposed to helping people,' said Sen. Mark Kolterman, a Republican. 'But how are we going to pay for it?' The estimated annual cost of expanding the program in Nebraska is $40 million to $69 million, roughly 1 percent of the state budget. State Sen. John Stinner, a Republican who heads a budget committee, cited voter frustration that so many people lack health care as a driving force behind the initiative. 'Believe me, I'm frustrated with it, too,' he said. 'I don't want to be insensitive to people out there in that Medicaid expansion group. I just don't think this is sustainable.' If passed, the measure would add about 90,000 Nebraskans to the Medicaid rolls. Organizers with Insure the Good Life, a Nebraska group formed to back the expansion, said many of those people work in jobs with no health benefits, such as in hotels, restaurants and construction. 'Almost every single person in Nebraska probably knows somebody who's directly affected by the unaffordability of health care,' said Meg Mandy, campaign manager for Insure the Good Life. ___ Associated Press writers Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville, Tennessee, and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this article. Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. ___ Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte
  • A Florida park was renamed after iconic rocker Tom Petty, who played at that park as a boy. The Gainesville Sun reports that hundreds of members of the Tom Petty Nation! fan club visited Gainesville Saturday to celebrate the star's birthday with his music and the dedication of the former Northeast Park as Tom Petty Park. His family was also on hand. 'My brother and I grew up in this park. We played as kids. My cousin reminded me the other day of my remark that it was a sanctuary, and it really was,' said brother Bruce Petty. 'It was a place for us to escape and be kids and have fun. The fact that we are doing this today and the part that we played in it makes it so much more special.' Petty died Oct. 2, 2017. He was born Oct. 20, 1950 in Gainesville, and lived in the small city until he left for Los Angeles to make it big in the music business. Petty sold millions of records worldwide with the Heartbreakers, the Traveling Wilburys supergroup and as a solo artist. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. His family lived a block from the Gainesville park and it was like a second home for him and his brother. Other area events celebrated the singer, and included the Tom Petty Birthday Bash and Tom Petty Weekend. Adria Petty, Tom's daughter, grew up in Los Angeles but spent time in North Florida with her parents. She talked about a song called 'Gainesville' that's on 'An American Treasure,' a new four-CD box set of Petty's music. 'Gainesville is an extraordinary place and if you listen to my dad's music here, it has a different meaning. The idea of the air smelling good and the trees are green — there is nothing like this park to really illustrate that,' she said. ''Gainesville' has been blasting in my head since I landed ... It's a very important town to Florida. Florida is a really beautiful and complex state and (Gainesville) fosters a lot of intelligence and compassion and incredible manners and incredible decency.' Local artists Carrie and Jesus Martinez painted a Tom Petty Mural at the Sidney Lanier Center, the elementary school Petty attended. They were asked to paint an 8-by-8-foot mural on canvas that was auctioned Saturday night to benefit the UF program. 'We hope to make a lot of money for a really good cause,' Carrie Martinez said. 'We're Tom Petty fans. Everybody is a Tom Petty fan.' ___ Information from: The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, http://www.gainesvillesun.com
  • Florida officials say a woman lying on a hammock was killed after a palm tree fell on her. Hillsborough County Sheriff's officers say 20-year-old Isabel Melendez was in the hammock on Egmont Key Park on Saturday in late afternoon. The palm tree crashed on her, and she was taken to a hospital in St. Petersburg, where she later died of her injuries. Officers said her death wasn't suspicious.
  • A group dedicated to preserving rare species is partnering with a South Florida university to help save critically endangered wildlife. The Palm Beach Post reports the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation has partnered with Florida International University in an effort to save the world's most critically endangered wildlife. The Tropical Conservation Institute is nonprofit wildlife conservation center will be located in Loxahatchee. It's planned as a hub for international wildlife conservation, research, training and education. One of TCI's biggest programs includes the conservation and recovery of the Florida grasshopper sparrow, a small, ground-nesting songbird native to South and Central Florida. TCI also does extensive field work with West African crocodilians, pangolins, lemurs, global reef sharks, marine mammals and freshwater turtles, while research associates work with elephants, bats and other species. ___ Information from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, http://www.pbpost.com
  • A new monument in Tampa was erected with a nod to those who fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. The Tampa Bay Times reports the new memorial features two granite obelisks mounted with informational plaques and separated by a few dozen feet of blue marble meant to symbolize the Hillsborough river. It was dedicated Saturday at a park. Until Saturday, Veterans Memorial Park included monuments honoring local veterans from nearly every major American conflict — but no major monument dedicated to the Civil War. In March, a Confederate monument was been relocated from the grounds of a Florida courthouse in downtown Tampa to a private cemetery. Some 15,000 Floridians fought for the Confederacy during the war, and 2,000 more fought for the Union. ___ Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.
  • A retired teacher who started a butterfly garden in the yard of her Panhandle home might be subject to homeowners' association rules against breeding animals. WEAR-TV reports Krissa White started her a butterfly garden six years ago. Her front yard has butterfly-friendly plants and trees. Earlier this month she received a letter of final notice from her homeowners' association, saying it was against the community rules to have any other animals bred or raised on a lot except for dogs, cats or other house-hold pets for non-commercial purposes. The letter said raising butterflies isn't allowed on the property. According to the letter, White could be fined $25 every day. ___ Information from: WEAR-TV, http://www.weartv.com/
  • As the killing pandemic spread through Jacksonville in the dire month of October 1918, W.S. Henley, acting district manager of the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company, grew increasingly desperate. By Oct. 7, 64 out of his 191 telephone operators were sick, one in every three. By Oct. 9, 83 operators were missing. The next day, 95 were out. By then, for every operator able to make it to work, there was one unable to work, sick or perhaps dead. As more and more families fell victim to Spanish influenza, more and more phone calls were made, and Henley's beleaguered operators could not keep up. So he took out advertisements in the city's newspapers, pleading for the 'patriotic cooperation of the entire telephone using public' to refrain from making unnecessary calls, while begging for experienced operators to come volunteer 'during this trouble.' He signed each ad the same way: 'Yours respectfully, W.S. Henley, Acting District Manager' — likely leading many to wonder what had happened to the district manager he replaced. The suffering among those Southern Bell operators shows how widespread the Spanish flu pandemic was 100 years ago, when it killed an estimated 50 million across the globe, including 675,000 in America. As seen in newspapers of the time, it's clear Jacksonville suffered too: In October alone, the deadliest month, the city reported that well more than 400 residents died from Spanish flu, out of a population that was likely close to 90,000. It's a staggering amount: If translated to today's Jacksonville, that would be more than 4,000 victims in a month. The number could have been even higher: From the reporting in newspapers, it's not apparent that the total included the 155 reported dead that October at Camp Joseph E. Johnston. That was the Army base where Naval Air Station Jacksonville is now, where men trained for the war in Europe in crowded conditions ripe for the disease to fester and spread. Even in the middle of the epidemic, though, the Florida Times-Union, the morning paper, and the Florida Metropolis, the afternoon paper, devoted much of their space to the Allies' breakthroughs in the last weeks of World War I. And story after story pushed the sale of Liberty Bonds to help the war effort. The Spanish influenza outbreak received much less attention, and some of that seemed insistent on downplaying the danger, with stories regularly saying how the worst was over and how much better off Jacksonville was compared to other cities of its size. The scrappier Metropolis, though, did list many of the city's deaths in sparse but heartbreaking detail. Consider the toll in Oct. 15's edition, when it reported that 25 people had died the previous day — and that recent victims included 'three young brothers by the name of Keene ... one a boy of 7 years, and a colored man and wife named Wingard, (who) died within several hours of each other Sunday.' Most days, it listed the names of those reported dead, from infants to the elderly, with many victims in their teens, 20s and 30s. The dead were grouped by race: In this segregated city, even that daily death toll was broken down by white and black. The newspapers noted that Jacksonville wasn't alone in its struggles: The pandemic had gone coast to coast. So there was room for the brief, tragic story of 46-year-old Joseph Morr of Richmond, Va., who, after his wife died of the flu, put a revolver to his forehead and fired, falling dead over her body. 'Menace to others' It didn't seem that big a threat at first. Sept. 19's newspapers did take note of 1,000 cases of 'mild influenza' found at a naval training station in Michigan. But they approvingly noted, nine days later, that just 13 cases had been reported at Jacksonville's local base, Camp Johnston: 'Influenza is under perfect control here ... there is no cause for alarm as to the spreading of the disease.' As September turned to October, though, cracks appeared in that reassuring tone. In Oct. 1's Times-Union, city health director Dr. William W. McDonnell reported that just two people had died from flu in Jacksonville during the previous two weeks. Still, given the news from elsewhere, it would behoove citizens to take caution anyway. Avoid crowds, he advised — patriotic rallies, theaters, churches and crowded street cars. Stay away from people who are sneezing or coughing. And if you fall sick? 'Go to bed and stay there — you are a menace to others if you are about.' The next day's papers told of the flu spreading in military camps, while in Washington, D.C., 3,000 teachers and children were down with the flu. Meanwhile from Lake City came the sad story of Mrs. D.W. Black, whose husband, a railroad conductor, went ahead with his usual run on the Coast Line because she had seemed to be recovering from the flu. Not so: 'Upon his return in the afternoon (he) found her gone.' On Oct. 4, McDonnell and other doctors agreed in the Metropolis that the peak of the disease had been reached in Jacksonville. There was no need to panic or close public buildings. Yet observant readers might have felt some alarm anyway: Bracketing that article was one claiming the situation at Camp Johnston was 'well in hand' at Camp Johnston, even though 181 new cases of the flu were observed in the previous day. And below that was a note explaining that many newspaper deliveries just weren't being made, because 'there are a number of the Metropolis carrier boys ill with Spanish influenza.' Two days later, Duval County schools were ordered closed. Before the month was over, church services were cancelled and indoor public meetings were outlawed. The Ringling Brothers Circus never got underway, and dance halls and pool rooms shut down. Camp Johnston was put under quarantine. Stores and banks were ordered to cut back on their hours. Furchgott's department store, by request of the Department of Heath, cancelled its 50th anniversary sale, though it promised to hold all sale items until the troubles ended. The health department even asked those grieving for flu victims to hold private funeral services, to keep crowds and the risk of infection down. More than half the city's streetcar operators fell ill. Milk deliveries were cut way back. Just about every business, from ice makers to shipyards, was hurt. Sister Mary Ann's Orphanage needed help, badly: 'Nearly every inmate of the home was a victim, though fortunately there were no fatalities.' Brief stories noted the deaths of Mack Tucker, councilman and deputy sheriff, along with prominent doctors, business leaders, military officers and leading members of society. Grocer G.D. Perkins took out an ad boasting that 'the Spanish 'Flu' Hasn't Got Us!' Next to that, the ad of W.T. Edwards, 'An American Grocer' at Eighth and Evergreen, said he was just thankful he had recovered: 'Not as lucky as our competitors, I've been down with the 'FLU,' but now back on the job.' Easy fixes must have been tempting in the face of so much suffering. Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic and Cheney's Expectorant promised to be of help to the ill. And taking a yeast cake a day 'will keep influenza away,' the Times-Union said. In the face of the epidemic, people helped others. Red Cross volunteers made thousands of masks to wear when out in public, and urgent pleas went out for more volunteer nurses. Soup kitchens sprung up to feed the sick. Southern Bell's acting district manager W.S. Henley even got a few volunteer operators to handle some of those many calls. Meanwhile, Gladys Baker of the Metropolis wrote a paean to the 'ministering angels' of Jacksonville — its women — who stepped forward to nurse the sick and keep food supplies going in a city that was falling apart. 'Jacksonville,' she wrote, 'is indeed proud of her womanhood, who out of the throes of agony, have proved themselves magnificently sublime!' 'Helpless little mite' The newspapers back then didn't spend much time on the details of the heartbreak that must have accompanied so much death. But the intrepid Baker did spin a heartbreaking tale from the Children's Home Society, of a dad left with four children after his wife died while he too was ill. How, he pleaded, could he take care of them himself, in these tragic straits? And what would become of his youngest, a 'helpless little mite?' She did not yet have a tooth in her head, though, he said, she did have her late mother's eyes, 'like big, brown pansies — sorter wilted-like.' By Oct. 11, about 20,000 cases of flu had been reported in the city, health officials estimated. That day Camp Johnston reported 1,032 sick among the 17,000 men there. Forty-two at the camp had died since Sept. 20, including 11 on Oct. 10 alone. By Oct. 15, the city reported 180 flu deaths since the deadly month began. Two days later, the toll climbed to 256. On the 23rd, it was 361. Among the most recent victims was a Pullman checker named Louis Symans, 33. He was followed five hours later by his son Francis, 4. As the month went on, the daily toll went steadily downward, and health officials said again that the worst was over. By the 24th, the quarantine at Camp Johnston was lifted and rural schools in the area announced plans to reopen. By the 29th, Jacksonville's death toll was 423 for the month. A story that day noted that drugstore soda fountains were having trouble finding young men to work; after being closed so long, the employees had gone on to get new jobs. And there were orders that no glasses could be reused at fountains that didn't have sterilizers — so 'customers reveled in the sport of drinking from the bottle.' The state, tracing the pandemic's progress, said the disease showed up first in northern Florida before sweeping south and west. It killed 1,031 Floridians between Oct. 5 and the 27th, officials reported. Jacksonville, with 398 dead during that time, far outpaced Tampa's 225 fatalities. The flu would take more victims in the weeks and even months to come. But by the end of October, the worst was indeed over. So on Nov. 5, Furchgott's, as promised, continued with its 50th anniversary sale, which had been postponed 'on account of the epidemic of influenza.' With conditions safe again, the department store promised many 'sensational' deals for the thrifty shoppers of greater Jacksonville. 'Repeat the glad tidings to your family and friends,' its advertisement said. 'Get them all enthused.' ___ Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com
  • These days, it's rare not to see Grace Carpenter greet the morning sun at the beach. It was something she had done in her early 20s, but stopped because 'I just got caught up in life just like everyone else does,' she said from her Palm Beach Gardens home on a recent afternoon. At age 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, three years later, she starts her days with the ocean. 'It was a place I could go, I could tell my day was just a good day for the most part,' she said. 'Yeah, I hit bumps in the road during the day . but the way I was handling it was greatly different. I like the way I feel and I keep coming back to it.' That day, in the corner of Carpenter's living room, the sound of crashing waves emanated from speakers attached to an Adirondack chair. With the help of artist Jordan Clemmons, the chair's back slats are painted with a pink sunrise, sand and seashells dust the chair's front, yoga figures strike various poses on the left armrest and a yin and yang is drawn with positive and negative words from her journey through life. The sunrise is what keeps Carpenter healthy — mind, body and soul — after being cancer-free. Her chair is placed at Loggerhead Marinelife Center for the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as part of Jupiter Medical Center's Pink Chair Project. The medical center and the Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center asked breast cancer survivors to paint a chair that represented their motivation through treatment. The chairs and survivor stories are placed around Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 266,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and 2,550 new cases diagnosed in men. It most often is found from the discovery of a lump in the breast, but early breast cancer is most commonly diagnosed through mammograms. There are 29 chairs in all, mostly representing women who were treated by Jupiter Medical Center. Some had beach themes, like Carpenter's. Others had flowers, like survivor Jo Nagorka. One had a blunt message for the disease: 'Cancer, Kiss My A(asterisk)(asterisk).' Before her diagnosis, 'I was not a happy person,' Carpenter said. She was studying to become a funeral director and writing a paper when she put her laptop aside. It was her time of the month and her breasts were sensitive. But a pea-sized knot in the tissue gave her pause. It kept growing as the weeks passed. She found out a tumor was growing in her breast, but was not in her lymph nodes. 'For me, it was a bad diagnosis, but I made it a positive experience,' she said. Carpenter has tacked up a piece of paper titled 'My 'Saving Grace' Checklist.' She checked off items like going through eight rounds of chemotherapy, going through 33 rounds of radiation therapy, having a double mastectomy and reconstruction. One item not yet complete, as it's an ongoing process: 'Live in the moment, Healthy, Advocate, Love, Laugh.' 'I think for me the biggest growth and change for me has been spiritually within myself and wanting to live a life fuller than what it was before,' she said. Nagorka, 58, emanates a quiet calm in her personality and paintings. Before cancer, she considered herself a positive person. As her five-year anniversary of being cancer-free comes up in November, she is still appreciative of life. 'I appreciate every day,' she said. 'Everybody I meet, that's the most important person I meet because they are.' When Nagorka found out she had Stage 2 breast cancer, she didn't tell anyone for three days. She had skipped a few annual doctor visits, but in 2013 a nurse practitioner felt something Nagorka had discovered in the shower a week before: a golf ball-sized lump in her left breast. The first time she cried, she said, is when she found out she needed chemotherapy. 'First one, your body kind of goes into shock, but you get through it. The second one wasn't so bad. But the third one is when everything kind of fell apart,' she said. It starts killing the cancer cells and the other cells. It took two years for her body to feel normal again. Nagorka loved painting as a child and into her college years, but it wasn't until after her mother, Aileen, died two years after her cancer diagnosis that she picked it back up and never let go. She enjoys painting flowers, serene beach scenes and designs on children's rocking chairs. 'You get lost in it,' she said. 'You do it and it's fun.' Her hibiscus chair, displayed at Bloomingdale's at The Gardens Mall, has some pink in it, but explodes with green, purple, blue and yellow, too. In a way, Nagorka sees life after cancer the same way Carpenter does. 'The sun goes up. The sun goes down,' Nagorka said. 'You're still here to see it.' ___ Information from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, http://www.pbpost.com
  • The winning numbers in Friday evening's drawing of the Florida Lottery's 'Fantasy 5' game were: 03-04-10-24-34 (three, four, ten, twenty-four, thirty-four)