• iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The governor of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico is ordering the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry and the Department of Public Safety to review all deaths that have occurred since Hurricane Maria hit in September, "regardless of what the death certificate says."Puerto Rico's official death toll from Maria -- which slammed into the United States territory September 20 as a Category 4 storm -- reached 64 earlier this month, according to the island's Department of Public Safety.But some independent analyses found that the death toll was likely significantly higher. The New York Times published a review it conducted of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau; it discovered that 1,052 more people than usual died on the island after Maria’s landfall.Governor Ricardo Rosselló said today that he wants a review of the official death count."I welcomed recent news analysis on the number of hurricane-related deaths, and that they may be higher than the official count certified to date," he said in a statement today. "Those reports used the data provided by the Puerto Rico Demographic Registry, but the Government needs to investigative if the increase of the deaths is related directly or indirectly with Hurricane Maria.""Every life is more than a number, and every death must have a name and vital information attached to it, as well as an accurate accounting of the facts related to their passing. That’s the law," Rosselló added. "A legal process of certification by a coroner or a doctor is necessary, and every family deserves that the case of their loved ones be looked at independently and thoroughly."The governor added that ensuring the count is accurate could help the island to understand what caused the deaths and how to more accurately count them."We also want the most accurate count and understanding of how people lost their lives to fully account for the impact of these storms, and to identify ways in which we can prevent fatalities in advance of future disasters," Rosselló said."We always expected that the number of hurricane-related deaths would increase as we received more factual information—not hearsay—and this review will ensure we are correctly counting everybody," he added. "I have also called for the creation of a panel of experts to look into our current certification processes so that we can improve them going forward."In addition to the many people killed, the devastating storm caused the longest and largest major power outage in modern American history.According to the government of Puerto Rico, almost 70 percent of its electrical grid is generating power now, but it's unclear how many homes and business are receiving that power. More than 500 people remain in shelters, government reports say.The Federal Emergency Management Agency said earlier this month that federal assistance in Puerto Rico has topped $1 billion. FEMA said it has provided funds to more than 366,000 families on the island.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Retired Commander David Fravor spent 18 years as a Navy pilot but nothing prepared him for what he witnessed during a routine training mission on Nov. 14, 2004."I can tell you, I think it was not from this world," Fravor told ABC News. "I'm not crazy, haven't been drinking. It was, after 18 years of flying I've seen pretty much about everything that I can see in that realm and this was nothing close."Fravor's stunning retelling of his encounter off the California coast with what appeared to be a 40-foot long wingless object that flew at incredible speeds in an erratic pattern comes as the Pentagon revealed the existence of a secret program to investigate sightings of UFOs.The program was shut down in 2012 due to other budget priorities, according to the Pentagon."I have never seen anything in my life, in my history of flying that has the performance, the acceleration, keep in mind this thing had no wings," Fravor said.Fravor recalled flying his F/A-18 fighter on a training mission on a beautiful southern California day 13 years ago when things started to get strange.Controllers on one of the Navy ships on the water below reported objects that were dropping out of the sky from 80,000 feet and going "straight back up," Fravor said."So we're thinking, OK, this is going to be interesting," he said.As they were looking around for the object that appeared on the radar, another aviator, spotted something. "I was like, 'dude, do you see that?'" Fravor recalled saying.“We look down, we see a white disturbance in the water, like something's under the surface, and the waves are breaking over -- But we see next to it, and it's flying around, and it's this little white tic-tac, and it's moving around, left, right, forward, back, just random," he said.The object also didn't display the rotor wash typical of a helicopter or jet wash from a plane, he said.The planes flew lower to investigate the object, which started to mirror their movements before disappearing, Fravor said. "As we start to cut across, it rapidly accelerates, climbs past our altitude and disappears," Fravor recalled."When it started to near us, as we started to descend towards it coming up, it was flying in the elongated way, so it's [like] a tic-tac, with the roundish end going in the forward direction ... I don't know what it is, I don't know what I saw. I just know it was really impressive, really fast, and I would like to fly it," Fravor said.The disturbance in the water also vanished with object, he remembered."So we turned around, we couldn't have been more than about a couple miles away, and there's no white water at all in the ocean," Fravor said. "It's just blue."At that point, they decided to return to go back to complete the training exercise when they were told the object, or something similar, had reappeared."And the controller comes up and says, 'Sir, you're not going to believe this, that thing is at your half point, which is our hold point,'" Fravor added. "And I'm like, oh great."Another plane that launched from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz around the same time had its radar jammed, and was able to pick up the object on an infrared channel."He gets close enough to see a couple of objects come out of the bottom, and then all of a sudden it takes off and goes right off the side of the screen and like takes off," Fravor said.He recalled that the speed of the object, which he said had no exhaust trail in infrared scanning, was stunning."No aircraft that we know of can fly at those speeds, maneuver like that, and looks like that," ABC News contributor and former Marine Colonel Stephen Ganyard said.Fravor said there is no rational explanation for what they saw that day."I don't know if it was alien life, but I will say that, in an infinite universe, with multiple galaxies, that we know of, that if we're the only planet with life it's a pretty lonely universe."There was no further investigation into the incident, he said."You
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two storm systems are expected to move through the country this week, just ahead of the Christmas holiday, bringing more than a foot of snow to some areas and heavy rain to others.The first storm is forecast to hit the far south on Monday, bringing as much as 4 inches of rain to some areas between Texas and the Carolinas.The second storm is expected to bring snow and arctic cold from the Northwest into the Midwest. That system will start out Wednesday on the West Coast bringing rain from Seattle to San Francisco and mountain snow from the Cascades to the Sierra Range.On Thursday, the storm system will move out into the Plains, bringing heavy snow from Denver to the Twin Cities. Some areas could see more than a foot of snow.By Saturday, the storm system will reach the East Coast, lashing the areas between New York City and Atlanta with heavy rain and a few thunderstorms.Behind the storm system, bitter cold air will spill into the Upper Midwest and the Plains, with some temperatures falling below zero.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- Wilbert Knight, a custodian at Pugliese West Elementary School in Steubenville, Ohio, brings joy to the staff and students with his lovely singing voice.“He’s an inspiration to all of us. Not only to the kids, but to our staff,” Principal Lynnett Gorman told ABC News. “In a world where kids are sometimes lacking a positive male role model, Mr. Knight has really shown to be that for them. The kids love him. They give him hugs, he greets them with songs and they greet him with smiles. We’re pretty lucky to have him.”Janitor brings down the house singing Sam Cooke with school orchestraSchool janitor vacuums artistic designs into rugs as daily surprise for kidsKnight has been working in the school system for more than 22 years. His favorite part of the job?“I love the kids. I love seeing them smile and seeing them happy,” he told ABC News.And he sure is good at it. They are greeted each morning with the smooth sounds of his voice rolling through the hallways.“When I first get here in the morning I can hear it echoing through the halls and it always brightens our day,” said Jared Robinson, a second-grade teacher at the school.Robinson posted a video of Knight singing “Happy Birthday” to a fellow coworker as part of their “staff spotlight,” in which they highlight an employee on the school’s Facebook page “so the community gets to know everyone that works in our building," said Robinson.The video went viral with more than 4,000 views, so the school continued to post more.“That’s just Mr. Knight spreading his positive message,” said Robinson.Knight, 61, can’t believe the attention his talent is bringing.“I just want to touch people’s hearts,” he said. “I’m going to keep on singing. I’m not going to stop. That’s my gift from God.”He said his favorite artist to sing is Luther Vandross, but on Sundays you can catch him singing gospel with his church choir.“I’m a gospel singer. That’s what I do,” said a proud Knight.   Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Thomas fire, which has killed two and destroyed more than a thousand structures in Southern California, could become the largest wildfire in the state’s history as the monster inferno continues to grow.The fire led to the deaths of 70-year-old Virgina Pesola who perished in a car accident while attempting to evacuate and a 32-year-old firefighter from San Diego, Cory Iverson, who died from burns and smoke inhalation.Intensified by erratic winds and super dry conditions, the fire has burned at least 270,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, making it the third-largest wildfire in modern California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.The largest fire on the department's list, which dates back to 1932, is the 2003 Cedar fire, which charred more than 273,000 acres and killed 15 people.The Thomas fire has burned steadily since Dec. 4, and authorities say it could take weeks to fully contain. It has reduced at least 1,026 homes and business to ashes and damaged more than 240 others.It was 45 percent contained as of Sunday evening as about 8,530 firefighters from about 100 different crews battled the blaze. Officials estimated that firefighters won’t achieve full containment until Jan 7.The state has spent more than $123.8 million on efforts to suppress the Thomas fire, which has also knocked out power lines to thousands, authorities said.At least 104,000 residents have been displaced since the start of the fire. Nearly 18,000 homes and business are currently at risk in both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.Dry Santa Ana Winds gusted to up to 65 MPH on Saturday, causing the blaze to flare up near the upscale town of Montecito, California, but firefighters said they made a lot of progress on Sunday."We kind of had a bend don't break philosophy and that's what we did," Cal Fire Captain Sean Norman told reporters. "We took the push from the fire and we pushed back and once that wind let up we immediately went after it with our hand crews and our dozers to try and get around the place where it pushed us.""California has the most robust firefighting entity in the world when we all come together, our mutual aid system is unparalleled," he added.   Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) --  Power at the nation's busiest airport was restored late Sunday night after a blackout that stranded thousands and grounded at least 1,500 flights.Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the world's busiest airports, suffered a power outage at around 1 p.m. Sunday. Airport personnel, Atlanta Fire and Rescue officials and Georgia Power staff were on the scene to respond and restore service, a spokesman told ABC News.Early Monday the airport tweeted, urging passengers to check with their airlines for flight information.The airport shutdown forced airlines to cancel flights. Delta, which has a large hub operation in Atlanta, said Sunday evening it had already cancelled approximately 900 Sunday flights and another 300 on Monday. Another 48 flights were being diverted to other airports, the airline said.Delta later added that the 300 flights cancelled on Monday were mostly inbound flights, to give the airport time to rebound after the blackout. Delta says its flight schedule is expected to return to normal by Monday afternoon.Authorities announced Sunday evening that electricity would be restored at the airport by midnight, and by 11:45 p.m. power had been restored for all essential airport activities, including all concourses and flight operations, Georgia Power announced via Twitter, but not before some 30,000 people were affected by the blackout.Thousands of passengers on inbound flights were stuck on their planes for hours and hours.Jenny Bloom, who was on a flight from Florida that landed around 2:30 p.m., was still on the plane four hours later."[The pilot] came on about a half an hour ago and actually said that he thinks we're better off here on the plane than going into the terminal because the power is out and nobody can get out," she told ABC News around 6:30 p.m. "So I think people on the plane are doing fine. I mean people are not upset, they're staying pretty calm and it's been fairly quiet. You know, all things considered I think they're handling this really well."Multiple airlines, including Southwest and Delta, told ABC News they were beginning to deplane passengers by sliding them down airstairs.Before this move, the FAA confirmed to ABC News there are up to 100 planes stuck on the tarmac.The FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center verified stated there were "80 to 100" planes" parked on taxiways.The agency said that flights headed to the airport were grounded "due to the power outage," but also added that the airport's tower has power and is capable of operating "normally."Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tweeted late Sunday evening that all passengers were finally off the planes.Another traveler described the scary scene in the blackout inside the terminals."The lights flickered once. That was really scary," Muhammad Saeed said. "And then they flickered again and they didn't come back. And it's been about an hour now and it's just pitch darkness in the airport."While the investigation into the fire is ongoing, Georgia Power said in a statement released just after midnight on Monday that, "a piece of Georgia Power switchgear located in an underground electrical facility could have failed and started a fire" that was "located adjacent to redundant circuit cables and switching mechanisms serving the airport." Damage to those cables resulted in the outage and loss of redundant service methods.Earlier in the evening, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said there was no evidence that the fire was deliberately set, but a security sweep was being conducted. Because extra personnel had to be brought onto the airport campus to fight the fire, authorities wanted to make sure the fire wasn't set to allow someone access to the airport grounds that wouldn't normally have it, the mayor said.Ann Mason, who was traveling to South Bend, Indiana, told ABC News she saw smoke coming from one of the terminals and that people were told to evacuate."We were in Terminal D and we could
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