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A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy, which spun bands of severe weather ashore from the Florida panhandle to east Texas as it churned ever closer to the Gulf coast.
Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn’t immediately identified.
It was the first known fatality from Cindy. The storm formed Tuesday and was expected to make landfall some time late Wednesday or early Thursday. The storm was expected to come ashore near the Louisiana-Texas line but the severe weather extended far to the east. National Weather Service forecasters estimated it had had dumped anywhere from 2 to 10 inches (50 to 250 millimeters) of rain on various spots along the Gulf Coast from south Louisiana to the Florida panhandle as of Wednesday. And more rain was on the way.
Alek Krautmann at the weather service office in Slidell, Louisiana, said more moisture was heading in from the Gulf Wednesday evening.
“There were plenty of breaks today, but it’s filled in a little more this afternoon,” he said.
Coastal roads and some buildings flooded. There were several reports of possible short-lived tornadoes.
In Gulfport, Mississippi, Kathleen Bertucci said heavy rainfall Wednesday sent about 10 inches of water into her business, Top Shop, which sells and installs granite countertops.
“It’s pretty disgusting, but I don’t have flood insurance because they took me out of the flood zone,” said Bertucci, whose store is near a bayou. “We’re just trying to clean everything up and hope it doesn’t happen again.”
In nearby Biloxi, a waterspout moved ashore Wednesday morning. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged.
Storms also downed trees in the Florida Panhandle. Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said fallen trees hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods.
Also Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, like his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm’s danger wasn’t limited to the coast.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating Tennessee Valley Authority, said it was drawing down water levels on nine lakes it controls along the Tennessee River and its tributaries in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, anticipating heavy runoff from Cindy’s rains once the storm moves inland. The TVA manages 49 dams to regulate water, provide power and help control downstream flooding.
The storm was centered Wednesday afternoon about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south of Lake Charles, Louisiana and had top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). A tropical storm warning was in effect along the coast from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
In Alabama, streets were flooded and beaches were closed on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.
“It’s pretty quiet,” Caldemeyer said by phone from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. “Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to raise its readiness level. He also activated four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads and two Texas Military Department vehicles squads of five vehicles each for weather-related emergencies.
The Louisiana National Guard dispatched high water vehicles and helicopters into flood-prone areas. The state said the Federal Emergency Management Agency also was moving 125,000 meals and 200,000 liters of water into Louisiana. And workers on Grand Isle, Louisiana’s barrier island community south of New Orleans, reinforced a rock levee protecting the island’s vulnerable west side.
“All arms of the state’s emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well,” Edwards said in a statement.
Associated Press writers Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jeff Amy and Emily Wagster in Jackson, Mississippi; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.
I was arriving at Illinois Valley Community College to cover graduation ceremonies last month when a sign greeted me and all the parents and family members. It boasted, or at least posted notice, that IVCC is a 100-percent, smoke-free campus. Minutes later, I m walking in to graduation and one of the first things I see is a hired security guard trying to stop a parent who was smoking a cigarette. That s a parent who probably paid tuition money for the son or daughter he was going in to see graduate. Rather than stopping, the man kept walking, didn t say a word, and proceeded to finish his cigarette as he moved along. As he walked, he briefly held the cigarette up above and to the right of his head, not looking back at the guard, as if to say, Not today.
He took another puff, put it out thoroughly and disposed of the butt. Now, smoke-free sounds good to a lot of people. I don t really like to be in a smoke-filled room with stale ash trays, and when my spring allergies are acting up, smoke certainly doesn t help me.
But my alma mater, the University of Iowa, went 100-percent smoke-free a few years ago. On my last visit there, I went to the old, private, Iowa Bookstore. It s across the street from the Pentacrest, a two- or three-block space occupied by five grand classroom structures including a former state capitol building. To get to the bookstore, I had to say excuse me and work my way past students and perhaps professors smoking between classes, just across the street from the campus property.
That was just a ludicrous situation. The more you push smokers into tiny areas, the smokier those spots become. And the unhappier the smoker is likely to become. Ever been to the Atlanta airport? I don t know if it s still there, but they used to have one room per terminal with glass doors where they d allow smoking. It was like looking into an overcrowded, smoky terrarium. That wasn t a great idea either.
College leaders expose themselves as idealistic or unrealistic snobs, or utopian theorists, when they completely ban smoking. Reality check:
People smoke. Provide places for them to smoke at least outside.
Otherwise, you re ostracizing people. IVCC s enrollment has been much better in the past than it was this past year. Now, I m not saying that s because IVCC has a smoke-free campus.
But why cast out anyone?
To be inclusive and embrace diversity, you shouldn t make things harder for people who smoke.
Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or
As my parents and I walked into ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, a security guard quietly told us to follow her. Walking down a hallway and turning a corner, the pop of a glove grew louder and louder before we came to where Cat Osterman was warming up for Texas. Growing up in Olney, Texas, Oklahoma City was only three hours away, and going to the Women s College World Series every summer was a must.
That was the only exposure I had to collegiate softball going to the Yes Clinic (now called Youth Clinic) before a Saturday full of softball games where I waited eagerly with my softball and a Sharpie after each contest for some autographs. Monday night, the Waco community who has one of the top softball programs in the country in Baylor got a taste of professional softball as the National Pro Fastpitch league s Texas Charge hosted the USSSA Pride in a regular season contest. Behind 14 hits, the Pride topped the Charge 8-0. The Charge finished with only two hits on the evening.
We have three teams in Texas now, I believe, professional organizations, Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. Their desire is to promote the sport and promote the NPF in the state of Texas. Scott Smith, with the Charge, contacted us six or eight months ago and asked then if we d be interested.
It wasn t just the community who got a glimpse of professional softball. So did around 300 campers Baylor softball has this week.
Let the campers see this, Moore said. It s a great way of promoting it. These kids watch these girls play on TV at various colleges. Some of the players were familiar to Baylor softball fans as Oklahoma s Lauren Chamberlain, Shelby Pendley and Keilani Ricketts suited up for the Pride, and Iowa State s Brittany Gomez along with Texas Nadia Taylor and Brejae Washington took the field for the Charge. By far, Chamberlain received the most cheers from the Baylor softball campers in attendance.
All these girls are very impressionable, Moore said. To be able to have the opportunity to put their role models in front of them and show them what they can became as far as an athlete. And then to go back to camp and work with our girls which shows them what they can become as a person, too. I think it s very, very important that we use sports to help mold these young girls into great young women and have self confidence in themselves and grow as people as well as athletes.
As Moore looked at the crowd from the VIP room at Getterman Stadium, he was impressed with the showing. The stadium was about 75 percent full and, as Moore put it, they didn t properly promote it. That not enough to prove that softball is growing?
The first game of this year s Women s College World Series a 17 inning affair between eventual champion Oklahoma and Florida was the most-watched finals game one ever with 1,677,000 viewers.
Being a part of the Power Five here at Baylor, it s one of the highest rated sports in the country right now, Moore said. Year in and year out our ratings are through the roof. I think people enjoy the action. It seems to be the new America s pastime, in my opinion. People love what these girls can do.
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