TIME Louisiana

George W. Bush Returns to New Orleans for 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Former President and his wife paid a visit to the oldest public school in the city

(NEW ORLEANS) — Former President George W. Bush returned Friday to New Orleans — the scene of one of his presidency’s lowest points — to tout the region’s recovery from the nation’s costliest natural disaster on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

He and Laura Bush visited the oldest public school in the city — Warren Easton Charter High School, which was closed for a year because of storm damage and then reopened as a charter school. Bush visited the same school on the storm’s first anniversary, and the library foundation of his wife helped rebuild it.

The Bushes met with students and were greeted by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, who fought hard to get federal aid during Katrina. Laura Bush wore a purple dress to honor the school’s colors.

The school’s success is a rare bright spot from what was an extremely trying time for Bush, who was vilified for his administration’s lackluster response to the catastrophic storm.

His record was marred by initially flying over New Orleans in Air Force One without touching down to show his support in the flooded city, to his “Heckuva job, Brownie” praise for his Federal Emergency Management Agency director, Michael Brown.

The monster storm set off a “confluence of blunders” that Bush’s approval ratings never recovered from, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University and author of “The Great Deluge,” a detailed account of the first days after Katrina. “That’s when I think his presidency started on a downward trend.”

Bush and his team were so deeply resented and mocked in New Orleans that Carnival paraders displayed him in effigy for years afterward.

At Warren Easton, at least, Bush could point to a success story.

“We have fond memories of his last visit,” said Arthur Hardy, a celebrity in New Orleans for his expertise in all things Mardi Gras and Carnival, the city’s signature festivity. Hardy graduated from the high school in 1965.

After New Orleans, the Bush family will visit Gulfport, Mississippi, to attend an event with state officials, including Gov. Phil Bryant and former Gov. Haley Barbour, a staunch Bush ally who was governor when Katrina hit.

The event in Mississippi will serve to thank first responders who helped after the hurricane.

Bush has deep ties to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans — both as an eastern Texan and as president. His administration oversaw more than $140 billion in spending to help the region recover from the disaster, his office said.

Bush largely took a hands-off approach, frequently saying that rebuilding was best left to locals. Much of the work was overseen by his appointees, however, and he’s made frequent trips to the region since Katrina, his office said.

In 2006, Bush picked Warren Easton as an example of the city’s comeback spirit.

The school had been badly flooded and had been facing closure before Bush’s visit back then. Nearly every student who attended was considered homeless, living in FEMA trailers or sleeping on couches, school officials said.

Back then, Bush advocated for school reforms, supporting the city’s efforts to expand charter schools and break up what was widely seen as a failing neighborhood school model. The old public school system was riddled with broken buildings, failing grades and pervasive corruption.

Since Katrina, New Orleans has become a living experiment for a city-wide charter system, with many schools reporting greater diversity and steady academic gains.

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

TIME Florida

Florida Declares State of Emergency As Tropical Storm Erika Nears

The storm could hit Florida on Monday

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Gov. Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Erika nears Florida.

The storm could hit the peninsula Monday. Scott made his declaration shortly after forecasters adjusted the trajectory of the storm to show that it’s predicted to go through the middle of the state.

Scott’s emergency order says Erika “poses a severe threat to the entire state.”

The order calls for the activation of the National Guard and gives authorities the ability to waive tolls and rules to allow emergency crews and vehicles to move throughout the state.

A hurricane hasn’t hit Florida in 10 years. The latest forecasts show that Erika will remain a tropical storm when it makes landfall.

On Friday, Erika lashed Puerto Rico with wind and rain and had killed at least four people. The storm was about 90 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican, and was moving west at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

Read next: Tropical Storm Erika Kills 4 People in Dominica

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME natural disaster

10 Essential Stories About Hurricane Katrina

Sep. 12, 2005
Cover Credit: KATHLEEN FLYNN / ST. PETERSBURG TIMES / WPN The Sep. 12, 2005, cover of TIME

'Trust no one and nothing. They're not counting on the levees to hold or the government to rescue them this time'

It was Aug. 29, 2005, that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, leading to one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in U.S. history. On Thursday, President Obama will travel to New Orleans to mark the decade that has passed since then.

Ahead of that anniversary, take a look back through the lens of TIME:

An American Tragedy. TIME’s now-editor Nancy Gibbs wrote this cover story the first week after the storm made landfall, as the devastation was still mounting. Though the flood waters had yet to ebb, it was already clear that the storm was a singular event whose echoes would be felt for years to come.

But by the time President Bush touched down in the tormented region on Friday, more than just the topography had changed. Shattered too was a hope that four years after the greatest man-made disaster in our history, we had got smarter about catastrophe, more nimble and visionary in our ability to respond. Is it really possible, after so many commissions and commitments, bureaucracies scrambled and rewired, emergency supplies stockpiled and prepositioned, that when a disaster strikes, the whole newfangled system just seizes up and can’t move?

Read the full story, free of charge: The Aftermath (Sept. 12, 2005)

An accounting. The questions continued to pile up the following week. How, they each asked in their own ways, had this happened? TIME identified four junctures where human failure had compounded the problem. From the mayor’s office to the federal government, there was plenty of blame to go around.

Already it’s clear that this debacle was more than an act of God. This country’s emergency operations, awesome in their potential, are also frighteningly interdependent. The locals are in charge–until they get overwhelmed. Then they cede control to the feds–but not entirely. The scarier things get, the fuzzier the lines of authority become. As TIME’s investigation shows, at every level of government, there was uncertainty about who was in charge at crucial moments.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: 4 Places Where the System Broke Down (Sept. 19, 2005)

Another place. About a month after Katrina hit, Cathy Booth Thomas reminded readers that the destruction had not been limited to New Orleans proper. In one Louisiana parish, beginning the process of rebuilding seemed near impossible.

Unlike in New Orleans, which is turning on the lights and water spigots, the 67,000 people who live on the peninsula to the east–mostly white and middle-class homeowners–have nothing at all to go back to. Katrina’s tidal surge, with waves of up to 25 ft., was so strong, it moved houses–their concrete foundations still attached–down streets.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: Starting from Scratch (Oct. 17, 2005)

A homecoming, or not. About a week after evacuees began to return, Thomas reported that the situation in New Orleans was “worse than you think.”

On Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, the neon lights are flashing, the booze is flowing, and the demon demolition men of Hurricane Katrina are ogling a showgirl performing in a thong. The Bourbon House is shucking local oysters again, Daiquiri’s is churning out its signature alcoholic slushies, and Mardi Gras masks are once again on sale. But drive north toward the hurricane-ravaged housing subdivisions off Lake Pontchartrain and the masks you see aren’t made for Carnival. They are industrial-strength respirators, stark and white, the only things capable of stopping a stench that turns the stomach and dredges up bad memories of a night nearly three months ago.

Subscribers can read the full story on TIME.com: It’s Worse Than You Think (Nov. 28, 2005)

A lesson learned. Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’re still recovering: another year means another hurricane season. On the eve of the 2006 hurricane season, New Orleanians reflected on the take-away from Katrina, and it wasn’t exactly a movie-of-the-week moral.

Trust no one and nothing. They’re not counting on the levees to hold or the government to rescue them this time. Neighborhoods like Broadmoor are recruiting block captains to canvass residents who have returned, noting which homes are occupied, who lives in flimsy trailers and which elderly residents might need help. In Gentilly, where many senior citizens died, residents are looking into their own text-messaging system for emergency alerts. Self-sufficiency is everyone’s mantra, from civic associations to city hall.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: You’re On Your Own (May 29, 2006)

An opportunity. Around the time of the hurricane’s two-year anniversary, Walter Isaacson found a bright spot left behind in Katrina’s wake: the many people working to improve education in New Orleans.

Call it the silver lining: Hurricane Katrina washed away what was one of the nation’s worst school systems and opened the path for energetic reformers who want to make New Orleans a laboratory of new ideas for urban schools .

Subscribers can read the full story on TIME.com: The Greatest Education Lab (Sept. 17, 2007)

A near miss. In the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Michael Grunwald examined whether the relatively limited impact of that storm was a result of better preparation—or just a lucky break.

The sad truth is that the Big Easy–while slightly less vulnerable than it was before Katrina–is still extremely vulnerable. And eventually the region will face the Big One, a storm far larger than Gustav or Katrina. “We got lucky this time,” says law professor Mark Davis, director of Tulane’s Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. “I like being lucky. But at some point we have to get smart.”

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: The Flood Next Time (Sept. 15, 2008)

A retrospective. As 2010 approached, Andy Serwer dubbed the aughts “the decade from hell.” The hurricane was no small part of what made the 2000s so terrible.

Sometimes it was as if the gods themselves were conspiring against this decade. On Aug. 29, 2005, near the center point in the decade, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, killing more than 1,500 and causing $100 billion in damages. It was the largest natural disaster in our nation’s history.

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: The Decade From Hell (Dec. 7, 2009)

A retelling. Post-Katrina interest in New Orleans continued in 2010 with the premiere of the HBO show Treme. In his review, TV critic James Poniewozik examined how the hurricane had changed the way the city’s story was told.

[The show’s creators] set their series in December 2005, after the media and political attention had died down and, as [David] Simon puts it, “the people of New Orleans realized they were on their own.” But although it was only four years ago, that also makes Treme a period piece. The producers took pains to match the calendar of events and the look of the postflood city, still on edge and patrolled by the military. One asset, says [Eric] Overmyer: “Unfortunately, there are still places that still look like they did the day after the storm.”

Subscribers can read the full story in the TIME Vault: Song of Survival (Apr. 19, 2010)

An anniversary. For the fifth anniversary of Katrina, TIME took a look at photos from before and after, how the clean-up had gone, maps of how the city of New Orleans had changed—and more.

We didn’t realize how much we’d mourn New Orleans until Katrina’s rising, fetid waters turned it into a ghost town. There are just a few places in this hemisphere that embody the New World’s elegantly unruly culture. Rio de Janeiro is one, New Orleans another. Its jazz, the jambalaya swirl of its cuisine and architecture–the Crescent City is our boisterous soul roaring from a wrought-iron balcony. But it took a tragedy as ugly as Katrina to really make us aware of the Big Easy’s beauty.

See the full package, free of charge: New Orleans 2005–2010 (Sept. 6, 2010)

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

TIME natural disaster

Witness to a Disaster: Journalists Recall Covering Hurricane Katrina

A writer and a photographer who covered the disaster for TIME in 2005 reflect on the experience

In the days leading up to Aug. 29, 2005, the world was watching the Gulf Coast. On that day—ten years ago this weekend—Hurricane Katrina made landfall. It brought winds as strong as 125 mph, nearly a foot of rain, and a 25- to 28-ft. storm surge that destroyed levees in Louisiana, leaving thousands of New Orleans residents underwater and puncturing the soul of the south.

One of those people watching the gathering clouds was Chris Usher, who was at the time a freelance photographer covering the White House for TIME. He told his editor that he would be going down to the Gulf Coast whether the magazine wanted or not. She asked him to please wait, not to put himself in the storm’s way—but he wouldn’t listen.

“I was like, ‘No! I’ve got to be there when it happens, before it happens,'” he now recalls.

Usher packed up his “war-wagon”—a 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser equipped with a lift kit and a roof rack—and headed out. The very next day, he was driving on Interstate 55 in Jackson, Miss., when the storm hit. Driving through the weak side of the storm, he witnessed trees falling and heavy rain, but nothing about the journey hinted at the type of devastation he’d soon witness in New Orleans and in parts of Mississippi.

“Every day, I would walk amongst all of the wreckage and it was just insane. The smells—that’s one that you kind of wipe out and forget about, the smells, especially as it wore on, because I spent three weeks covering it, every day,” he says. “The first couple of days, you know, ‘So what?’ But then, in Gulfport, [Miss.], there were a whole bunch of semi-box containers, filled with chicken that got loose and that was rotting everywhere.”

Meanwhile, TIME’s Brian Bennett—who had reported from post-Sept. 11 conflict zones for TIME and had, at that point, recently returned from a stint as Baghdad bureau chief—was back in Washington, D.C. When Bennett heard reports that journalists on the ground were having difficulty accessing New Orleans, he called around to some helicopter rescue units he’d flown with in Iraq to see if any would let him tag along. A unit in Florida invited him to join them if he could make it to Jackson, Miss. That was how, a few days after the storm had swept through New Orleans, he found himself approaching the city by air. It was immediately clear that something was wrong. “Instead of streets you saw canals,” he recalls. “There was water in a lot of places and there was a lot of roof damage, a lot of debris, no car traffic, the streets were empty.”

Stories with Bennett’s reporting and Usher’s photographs populated the pages of TIME and TIME.com in the days and weeks that followed. In one, Bennett wrote that the helicopter crew wasn’t the only thing the experience shared with his time covering a mission near the Persian Gulf rather than the Gulf of Mexico. Seeing New Orleans was like seeing “Baghdad on the Bayou”:

The scene looks like a war zone, houses blown to splinters, cars abandoned on the roads, crowds of huddled refugees escaping a fallen city. It also smells like a war zone. Flying over the neighborhoods where water reaches the eaves of most houses, my nostrils burn with the fumes of diesel fuel, which swirls in rainbow iridescence in the fetid eddies below. It’s the dry areas of the city that smell the worst, where the water poured in fast and receded. There, the smell is unmistakably of death — the rotting contents of abandoned refrigerators, and the corpses of the drowned.

The scene on the ground is worse. We land on a patch of dry ground at New Orleans Lakefront Airport. For days, rescue teams like this one have been doggedly shuttling survivors from the putrid streets of the city to this desolate airstrip. Hundreds and hundreds of refugees plucked from parking garages, apartment buildings, highway overpasses, the roofs of their homes, whatever high ground they could find, are now stuck standing on the dark runway, waiting for someone to take them somewhere, anywhere but here.

Bennett, who is now a writer at the Los Angeles Times, quickly realized that the landscape of the city would be changed for many years to come. “It was really difficult to see these people’s homes destroyed, emptied out by the tide, these floodwaters that came in and swept out all their belongings, the mold taking over their homes and the places they’d lived for generations in some cases,” he says. On a visit to New Orleans last year, his prediction was proved true: though some neighborhoods seem untouched, he says that other places—even where rebuilding has happened—are just not the same.

For Usher, the emotional impact of covering the devastation was overwhelming. “In a weird way, I was very numb at first and then I was very highly engaged in it and it was draining,” he says. “Especially when you come up on something that’s kind of identifiable—maybe a family photo…or stuffed doll. And then you go ‘Man, that was some little girl’s favorite doll, what happened to her?'”

Even when he returned home after three weeks in New Orleans, feeling that his numbness meant he could no longer do the story justice, the experience made him want to continue documenting the lives of Katrina survivors. He and his wife spent the past decade traveling across the country, finding survivors of Katrina where they were and sharing their stories—particularly the less inherently dramatic ones, the stories that got less attention but might resonate with a larger number of people. The images he’s captured will be on display at a gallery in New Orleans this fall.

“Everyone goes for the jugular when it’s coverage. You want bang for the buck. You want that typical person who’s in the trailer and is not getting FEMA help and whatever. But there’s another side,” he says. “There’s always another side.”

(With reporting by Lily Rothman)

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

TIME natural disaster

Western Wildfires Are Draining Firefighting Resources

Chris Schulte
Ted S. Warren—AP Chris Schulte, incident commander for the Chelan Complex Fire, talks to reporters, Aug. 18, 2015, in Chelan, Wash.

"Nationally, the system is pretty tapped"

(CHELAN, Wash.) — Wildfires are putting such a strain on the nation’s firefighting resources that authorities have activated the military and sought international help to beat back scores of blazes burning uncontrolled throughout the dry West.

The situation is so urgent that the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise this week called in 200 active-duty military troops to help contain roughly 95 wildfires. It’s the first time since 2006 that the agency has mobilized soldiers for fire-suppression.

“Nationally, the system is pretty tapped,” said Rob Allen, the deputy incident commander for the fires around the Cascade Mountain resort town of Chelan. “Everything is being used right now, so competition for resources is fierce.”

The troops are all coming from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma and will be sent to a fire north of Republic, a town in central Washington, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border.

Fire managers at the center are able to enlist military help when there are not enough civilian firefighting teams, thanks to a 1975 agreement between the Defense, Interior and Agriculture departments.

The help can be crucial in particularly active years like this one, when the center’s firefighting teams and equipment are fighting hundreds of fires across many states. In the last two weeks alone, more than1,500 square miles have burned in the Lower 48 states, center spokesman Ken Frederick said.

“It’s like the fire season gas pedal has been pushed to the floor in a really short period of time, and that’s stressed our resources,” Frederick said. “And that’s got us relying on help from resources we don’t normally use.”

The fires in the Pacific Northwest get top priority when it comes to allocating pinched resources.

More than 1,000 people are battling the massive fires near Chelan that have burned more than 170 square miles and destroyed an estimated 75 buildings. They are just some of the huge blazes raging in the West.

A lightning-sparked fire in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest has grown to 63 square miles and destroyed at least 26 houses. An additional 500 structures are threatened by the flames near the community of John Day, also in Oregon.

In the Northern Rockies, so many wildfires have ignited this month that officials are letting some that might be suppressed under normal circumstances burn because manpower and equipment are committed elsewhere.

The area experienced a normal fire season until last week, when a combination of drought, high temperatures and lightning-packed storms created new blazes across western Montana and Idaho.

As of Tuesday, at least 95 fires were burning in the two states, about 30 of them considered large, according to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center in Missoula.

That included a group of fires in northern Idaho that have scorched 90 square miles and destroyed 42 homes in the last several days, as well as a wildfire in the western part of the state that led about 120 residents to evacuate and others to prepare to flee near McCall.

California is doing well in terms of resources, despite a pair of massive blazes in the north. Officials prepared for a drought-fueled fire season by bringing in several hundred more firefighters than in previous years.

In Chelan, about 180 miles east of Seattle, flames burned through grass, brush and timber. Air tankers established containment lines to keep the flames from reaching downtown, and utility workers replaced burned power poles and inspected wires.

No buildings have been lost in the Chelan fires in the past two days, officials said.

But nearly 1,000 people remained under mandatory evacuations.

On Tuesday, smoke was thick in the air of downtown Chelan. Particles of ash fell from the sky. Some residents wore surgical masks as they walked through town.

The firefighters sleep in the woods, get up every morning and work a full day, said Allen, the deputy incident commander.

“It’s hot. It’s dirty,” said Allen, who usually works for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska. He said authorities were looking for all the resources they could muster.

“The military has been activated. We have National Guard here to help us out,” Allen said, adding that Canada loaned resources, too, and authorities were also talking to New Zealand and Australia.

Everyone is working to save Chelan, at the south end of Lake Chelan in the Cascade Range.

“Chelan is still at risk, but we have very significant amounts of structure protection,” said fire spokesman Brian Lawatch. “The name of the game today would be going on offense.”

The Chelan fires are about 30 percent contained, Lawatch said. That includes deliberate burnouts in some areas, plus trying to direct the fire into previously burned areas or areas with little fuel.

___

Geranios reported from Spokane, Washington. Associated Press writers Matt Volz in Helena, Montana, and Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

TIME natural disaster

3 People Missing After Landslides in Alaska

Town of Sitka, located southeast of Anchorage, was hit with heavy rain followed by landslides

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — Three people were missing in a southeast Alaska town Tuesday after landslides prompted by heavy rain, emergency responders said.

Search and rescue personnel were looking for the missing people in Sitka, where three landslides were reported Tuesday morning after 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. One sinkhole also was reported.

The people who were unaccounted for were all in the same neighborhood hit by one of the landslides, Sitka fire spokeswoman Sara Peterson said. She did not know if the people were all together when the landslide occurred.

An office building just outside town was evacuated late Tuesday morning because it is near one of the landslides.

It was drizzling early Tuesday afternoon, and Peterson said more rain was expected.

Sitka, almost 600 miles southeast of Anchorage, is characterized by heavy rain throughout the year.

Heavy rain was blamed for a major landslide near the coastal town in September that wiped out hundreds of thousands of dollars in watershed-restoration projects. The rain also damaged a footbridge and trails, including one that had been repaired after flooding in January 2014.

A year earlier, two people at a U.S. Forest service cabin near Sitka escaped moments before part of a mountain slid down.

TIME space

See an Astronaut’s Epic Photo of the Northwest Wildfires From Space

Northwest Wildfires Space Station
Kjell Lindgren—NASA An image of the wildfires in the Northwest taken from the International Space Station and released on Aug. 17, 2015.

The huge columns of smoke can be seen from space

With more than 100 wildfires burning in parts of California, Oregon and Washington, NASA’s astronaut Kjell Lindgren shared a photo of the colossal plumes of smoke seen from space.

“Thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the wildfires in the Northwest,” the flight engineer wrote on Twitter from abroad the International Space Station.

In California alone, more than 11,000 firefighters were mobilized, with the U.S. Forest Service spending more than $100 million each week nationwide. The agency warns it will have exhausted its annual firefighting budget by the end of the week.

Already, more than 7.1 million acres have been charred across the country, a record at this particular time of the year.

TIME natural disaster

Big Wildfire Threatens Washington Resort Town

Lorne Brunson stands on a hill overlooking remains of his homestead on which was lost to a wildfire near Coyote Canyon in Fruitland, Wash., Aug. 16, 2015.
Tyler Tjomsland—AP Lorne Brunson stands on a hill overlooking remains of his homestead, which was lost to a wildfire near Coyote Canyon in Fruitland, Wash., Aug. 16, 2015.

The flames come in the midst of the summer tourist season

(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Big wildfires threatened the Lake Chelan resort region of central Washington on Monday after driving away tourists, destroying a warehouse filled with nearly 2 million pounds of apples and forcing thousands of residents to flee.

The several large fires burning near the town of Chelan have scorched more than 155 square miles and destroyed an estimated 75 homes and businesses Friday and Saturday, officials said. Scores of homes remain threatened, and mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect for more than 2,900 people in the Chelan area.

The Chelan fires were just some of the many destructive blazes burning throughout the Northwest. In northern Idaho, more than 40 homes were lost near the town of Kamiah, and in Oregon a lightning-sparked blaze on the Malheur National Forest has grown to more than 60 square miles and has destroyed at least 26 homes.

So many fires are burning across the West that the National Interagency Fire Center announced Monday that 200 active-duty military troops were being called in to help. They will be sent to a fire on Aug. 23.

The blazes near Chelan, about 180 miles east of Seattle, are burning through grass, brush and timber, fire spokeswoman Janet Pearce said. The uncontained fires were being battled by more than 900 firefighters, she said.

“Today our focus is on structure protection,” she said Monday.

Air tankers established lines to keep the flames from reaching downtown Chelan, fire officials said.

The flames come in the midst of the summer tourist season in the scenic town located along Lake Chelan in the Cascade Range.

But lots of tourists left Chelan after the fires broke out on Friday, said Mike Steele, director of the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce. It’s too early to determine the economic impact, but Steele said it would be significant.

“We’re working hard to get our feet back on the ground,” Steele said, noting that many of the people who would serve tourists have either had to leave or lost homes.

“We’ll be welcoming visitors back here very shortly,” Steele said. “That’s our goal.”

The fires also threaten apple orchards and packing warehouses in the heart of the state’s apple belt during what has been a summer of drought in the Northwest.

Chelan Fruit lost one of its major fruit-packing warehouses in Chelan to wildfire on Friday. The warehouse contained 1.8 million pounds of apples and employed about 800 people, said Mac Riggan, director of marketing for the company.

The employees are being sent to Chelan Fruit’s other facilities in the region, Riggan said. “Our other plant in Chelan is fully operational,” he said.

Washington is by far the nation’s largest apple producer, and the industry produced more than 140 million cartons of apples last year, of which perhaps 6 million remain in warehouses, Riggan said.

“It’s not a major loss to the industry,” Riggan said. “It is to us.”

Washington farmers grossed about $2 billion from the apple crop last year, and late-season apples tend to sell at a discount as buyers are waiting for new fruit, he said.

The air was clouded with smoke in Spokane, about 150 miles east of the Chelan fire, on Monday. Air quality was expected to remain in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range for at least the next couple of days because of the Chelan fire and other fires, according to the Spokane Regional Health District, which serves the metropolitan area of nearly 500,000 people.

“Smoke from wildfires is especially harmful for those with health conditions like asthma. We recommend that people who are sensitive to poor air quality limit their time outdoors,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, the local health officer.

Meanwhile, the Washington National Guard joined the firefighting efforts in the state after a request for assistance from the state Department of Natural Resources.

Two Black Hawk helicopters arrived Friday, and five 20-person hand crews arrived Sunday evening to join 350 firefighters battling one of the state’s most active fires, Cougar Creek, on the southeastern slopes of Mount Adams.

“The Guard’s help now is vital,” said Mary Verner, Washington state DNR’s deputy for wildfire.

“We’ve been expecting another devastating wildfire season, and have had our personnel and equipment ready so we can get them out the door the moment we’re asked for help,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, commander of the Washington National Guard.

In northern Idaho on Monday, more than 700 firefighters along with 40 fire engines and four helicopters were trying to protect homes from flames. But residents along an 11-mile section of U.S. Highway 12 were told to be ready to flee.

On the Idaho-Oregon border, about 800 firefighters had a 443-square-mile wildfire 70 percent contained. However, fire officials warned that strong winds and low humidity, which can cause extreme fire activity, were likely to hit southern Idaho throughout most of Monday. The week-old fire has scorched grassland needed for cattle and primary habitat for sage grouse, a bird under consideration for federal protections.

Better weather helped firefighters battling wildfires in eastern Oregon. Though the fires are far from contained, higher humidity and lighter winds slowed the spread of the flames Sunday.

TIME California

4.0-Magnitude Earthquake Hits San Francisco

There are no reports of injuries

(SAN FRANCISCO) — A short sharp earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay Area, but there are no reports of injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 4.0 magnitude quake Monday morning was centered just north of Piedmont, near Berkeley, and felt in downtown San Francisco, along the Peninsula and in the East Bay.

The shallow quake at 6:49 a.m. was a sharp jolt, followed by a couple of gentle rolls. It was not immediately known if the quake caused damage.

Bay Area Rapid Transit is holding trains to check the tracks on the public transit system. Commuters should expect delays.

 

4.2 magnitude earthquake, close to San Francisco, USA
USGS/EPAA shake map released by the US Geological Survey on 17 Aug. 2015 shows the location of a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, close to San Francisco.
TIME natural disaster

See Photos of Historic Hurricane Destruction

A powerful hurricane hit Galveston, Tex. exactly a century ago

Almost 15 years after a devastating hurricane wrecked Galveston, Tex. at the start of the 20th century, it almost happened all over again. On Aug. 17, 1915, another hurricane—believed to be more powerful than the one that destroyed the port city—made landfall.

This time, however, Galveston stood up to it. As recounted by Houston History magazine, the 1900 hurricane inspired Galveston’s leaders to build a seawall, which was completed in 1904 and expanded in the years that followed. It was put to the test in 1915–and passed. Though there was extensive damage, as these pictures show, the wreckage was nothing compared to the earlier storm.

These photographs, from the collection of the University of Houston, were taken by Rex Dunbar Frazier, a representative of an engineering firm that was working on repairs. Most of the pictures he took were made on Aug. 18, just one day after the storm made landfall.

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