An EF2 tornado reportedly touched down in the Iona area of Lee County, just before 8 a.m. Sunday, according to The National Weather Service.
In Charlotte County, officials said a tornado was confirmed in the Gasparilla Road area. The storm has been classified as an EF-1 with winds reaching 110 MPH.
As of 1 p.m., more than 7,000 Lee County residents were without power, according to WBBH-TV in Fort Meyers. Additionally, a reported 28 homes in Lee County were destroyed. At least 60 homes were reportedly impacted and unable to live in.
According to Iona McGregor Fire District Deputy Chief of Operations and Incident Commander, Khalid Aquil, there is “a heavy concentration of units right now in this area.”
While the NWS has not confirmed details of the suspected tornado, WBBH-TV reports that it has destroyed homes, toppled trees, and left a trail of destruction in Lee County.
“We’ve definitely had some injuries,” said Aquil.
According to WBBH-TV, four people sustained injuries and are in stable condition. At this time, there have been no confirmed fatalities.
“The safety and security of the residents is going to be number one,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Marceno is urging residents to stay safe by remaining sheltered.
“Don’t leave your house just to look around. Although things may seem safe, you can see debris. You never know where there are power lines,” said Sheriff Marceno. “There are things beyond your control or what you can see that make things very unsafe.”
IMFD officials estimate that roughly 150-200 people have been displaced and say that an emergency shelter has opened for people who need a safe place to go.
“Everyone that needs medical attention will absolutely get what they need,” said Sheriff Marceno.
Grimes Auctioning Off Her Met Gala Accessories to Support BIPOC Families in Ukraine
Couture for a cause.
Grimes is doing her part to support the Black, Indigenous and people of color of Ukraine by auctioning off some of her most memorable fashion accessories.
“I’m auctioning stuff from my Met gala look last year to raise money to help get BIPOC families out of Ukraine since they’re having trouble exiting at the border,” she shared in an Instagram post on May 16, adding that the auction on display at Los Angeles’ HVW8 Gallery includes “the works of 50 distinguished artists who aim to support Emergency Response & BIPOC families in and out of Ukraine.”
Explaining that each piece in the auction “offers a unique interpretation of the theme ‘resistance,'” Grimes donated a whimsical pair of earcuffs, designed by Romantic Elf Jewelry, and a chrome CHRISHABANA x Dune Harkonnen face mask.
The experimental musician wore the pieces to the 2021 Met Gala back in September, along with a sheer Iris Van Herpen gown, for the event’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” theme. Her look — which was inspired by the 1984 cult classic “Dune” (and subsequent 2021 remake) based on Frank Herbert’s novel — also included a replica Medieval sword repurposed from a Colt AR-15A3.
The weapon, however, is not up for auction, as it’s “a permanent piece” of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection.
See some of the top looks from the 2021 Met Gala.
All proceeds from the auction will go to non-profit organizations Diaspora Relief and Razom for Ukraine, which will use the funds to provide food, shelter, and evacuation support to those in need, the “Genesis” singer explained. Bidding is open exclusively on Artsy and will start closing on May 26.
Grimes, 34 — who shares two children with ex Elon Musk — is just one of many celebs who has made efforts to help Ukraine amid Russia’s recent invasion. In March, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis shared a video on Instagram to announce that they had achieved their goal of raising $30 million to help the European country.
“Over 65,000 of you donated,” shared Kunis, who moved from Ukraine to the United States in 1991. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support. While this is far from [solving] the problem, our collective effort will provide a softer landing for so many people as they forge ahead into their future of uncertainty.”
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have reached their donation goal of $30 million for Ukraine amid the Russia invasion. The couple took to Instagram on Thursday to share the exciting news.
Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.
15 electric buses OK’d for South Dade Transitway
Written by Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow on May 17, 2022
Miami-Dade keeps expanding its electric bus fleet, with a new buy of 15 buses to roll down the South Dade Transitway starting in August 2023.
Commissioners on Tuesday OK’d a grant pact with the Florida Department of Transportation to get the 60-foot electric buses for a $17.47 million total cost, of which the state is to pay $8.7 million and the county the remainder from half-penny transit surtax funds. Kionne McGhee cast the only ‘no’ vote.
The South Dade Transitway Corridor is one of the six rapid transit corridors of the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan. The 19.8-mile route runs from Dadeland South Metrorail station along US 1 to SW 344th Street.
The bus buy is part of an active solicitation of 100 60-foot electric buses, a memo from Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales details. “These are articulated buses with more passenger capacity,” said Luis Espinoza, transportation department spokesperson.
The Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization Governing Board OK’d an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program last week to include new federal funding to buy ten battery-powered electric buses.
The county has been shifting toward electric power since 2019, when commissioners agreed to buy 33 battery-electric buses and install depot chargers from Proterra. In 2021 the county bought 42 more buses, bringing total electric-powered transit buses to 75.
The shipment of 33 electric buses will begin to arrive in July, followed by another 42 from October through January 2023, Mr. Espinoza said. “Upon the full delivery of the 75 vehicles, DTPW will run one of the largest fleets of 40-foot battery-powered electric buses in the United States.”
The department is now testing for service its first-ever all-electric bus, Mr. Espinoza added.
Proterra battery-electric buses feature zero tailpipe emissions, saving about 230,000 pounds of greenhouse gases a year when replacing a diesel bus, a county press note says.
Rickenbacker Causeway bike safety fast-tracked
Written by Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow on May 17, 2022
Miami-Dade commissioners seek immediate action to protect cyclists just days after a Jeep SUV fatally injured two bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Commissioners Tuesday brainstormed actions and agreed to discuss cyclists’ safety in a Transportation Mobility Committee meeting June 7. Raquel Regalado and Eileen Higgins said they would craft a proposal and Ms. Higgins asked Mayor Daniella Levine Cava for immediate actions beforehand.
Commissioners proposed immediately erecting barricades in high-incident areas and having tough conversations about funding needed improvements. For the long term, they said, the county should target federal and private funds and begin teaching people of all ages to respect cyclists.
“I am directing our department immediately to take urgent measures; I have in my authority up to $250,000 that we will be using for short-term bicyclist safety enhancement measures on the Rickenbacker, exactly at the places that are most vulnerable,” the mayor said.
Key Biscayne Mayor Michael Davey said the county’s public works department is working with the village’s staff to develop a conceptual plan for the causeway.
“While we appreciate the discussions that are taking place concerning the short-term ways to improve safety along the causeway, we believe that it is critical to work together toward a long-term solution for the Rickenbacker,” he said.
Commissioner Regalado advocated barricades to protect cyclists in high-incident areas. “I don’t know what else is it going to take for us to take some immediate steps, so I would like the administration to respond to that,” she said.
Chairman Jose “Pepe” Díaz said enhancing the cyclist’s security is going to take time to study before the county starts spending money on solutions.
“The issue of protected bike lanes in this county it’s embarrassing how behind we are. I don’t know if we’re one decade, two decades or an entire century behind the rest of this country,” said Ms. Higgins.
She criticized that the county’s Vision Zero plan, whose aim is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030, “I think is an absolute joke.”
“I just think the cycling [tragedy] on the Rickenbacker Causeway is similar to gun violence in my neighborhood and around North Miami and Liberty City,” Commissioner Jean Monestime said. “We just don’t want to do what we’re supposed to do about these things. It costs a lot of money to solve these issues [and] it requires very tough decisions.”
Kionne McGhee argued for the temporary barricades to protect cyclists. “The temporary barricades, the partnership with someone on the outside, a private company or private donor, I think that needs to be done now.”
Vice Chairman Oliver Gilbert agreed. “If we can do things like barricades now, to make specific areas safer, which we know are high-incident areas, I think that we should do it because I would much rather explain why we moved quickly to do something than explain to someone that we move slowly and did nothing and someone else died,” he said.
Sen. Javier Souto advocated educating people of all ages to respect cyclists. “Bikers need to be respected, and that starts home and starts with the school,” he said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a report by the mayor in which the Department of Transportation and Public Works identifies steps needed to replace the causeway’s Bear Cut Bridge, another needed infrastructure project without funds allocated yet for design or construction.
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