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Disaster Victims

It was just past midnight on March 3, 1938, when Edna Wisser gingerly walked into her daughter's bedroom to wake her up, and to show her what nature looks like on a bender. "Mother woke me up sometime in the darkness of the night," said Marion Harvey, now 78, an Anaheim High senior at the time. "Very calmly, she said: 'I want you to look outside your bedroom window, because something is happening that you will never see again.' " She was right.
June 15, 2013 | Jenny Deam
On Tuesday afternoon Duane Jensen was driving home from a round of golf when his cellphone rang and he was told of a fire in Black Forest. A bad one. He glanced out the window and saw a plume of smoke rising in the distance. He suddenly felt sick. He lives close to that spot. And he had been through this before. "It was like a horrible punch in the gut," he said Friday. Almost exactly a year before, he was standing on the deck of his house in the Mountain Shadows subdivision with the glorious views and the shrubs and trees he had babied until they bloomed like showpieces.
September 23, 1989 | DOUGLAS JEHL, Times Staff Writer
Less than half a mile of Intracoastal Waterway lies between the South Carolina mainland and its beachfront neighbors here, Sullivans Island and the Isle of Palms. But, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo on Friday, that gulf had come to seem enormous. Across the water lay the hint of disaster: Nowhere had the mighty storm struck with such devastating force. Up to 20 citizens who had defied orders and waited out the storm on the oceanfront could be in grave peril. No one knew their fate.
April 16, 2013 | By David R. Conrad and Edward A. Thomas
If the highest goal of fiscal reform is to reduce spending and better the lives of Americans, here's an idea that fits the bill: Improve the way the federal government responds to the growing number of natural disasters. Natural disasters have become increasingly costly to the United States, both in terms of the toll they take on American communities and in the direct costs of mounting a federal response. The federal government spent about $150 billion on relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, and has so far committed about $60 billion for Superstorm Sandy.
February 8, 1994
County welfare workers will stop accepting applications for emergency food stamps after today, an official said Monday. After today, "earthquake victims could possibly qualify for the regular food stamp program," said Mary Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Social Services. "It would depend on their income and expenses." The U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized the emergency program for 15 days only.
On the morning of Nov. 21, 1980, the sound of sirens stirred Rafael Patino from bed. "Usually when you hear sirens, they come and then they go," he said. "But these were coming and staying." When he looked out the window of his 16th-floor room, he realized that the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel was on fire. "I woke up my wife and we got dressed to leave," said Patino, an Irvine sales executive. "But when we walked out of the room, we couldn't see anything. The hall was pitch black with smoke.
May 11, 1999 | PAULA PISANI
Piles of old eyeglasses that would otherwise wind up in the local landfill are being recycled for use by others in an emergency. A partnership between the city and Direct Relief International saves landfill space and helps aid the sight of disaster victims. "There really isn't a thrift store or service club that does this type of service," said Jay Duncan, recycling specialist for the city.
There's power in numbers. That's the idea behind a new store that caters to disaster victims. The Malibu Buyers Group was founded this summer to negotiate bargain basement prices for the hundreds of people who lost their homes in last year's wildfires and the subsequent earthquake and mudslides. The eastern Malibu business has proved particularly useful for people who were underinsured and have had to dip into their savings to rebuild.
August 4, 2006 | From the Baltimore Sun
Arthur Francis "Frank" Carven III, an attorney who became an activist for aviation safety and fair compensation to families of aviation disaster victims after two relatives were killed in the explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, N.Y., has died. He was 54. Carven died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Forest Hill, Md., on July 27.
August 21, 1994
Perhaps an investigator in the consumer protection unit of the San Francisco district attorney's office said it best. Months after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake had devastated the Bay region, a small army of people intent on committing frauds had surfaced to prey upon an oddly unsuspecting populace. As Laurel Pallock put it then, "we're trying to warn people that the con artists are coming out of whatever woodwork you have left."
February 1, 2013 | Tracy Wilkinson and Cecilia Sanchez
A powerful explosion Thursday rocked one of Mexico City's tallest skyscrapers, a tower that houses the state oil giant, killing at least 25 people and injuring dozens, a top official said. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said the cause of the blast, which heavily damaged the first two floors of an administrative building next to the 54-story tower, was under investigation. The complex is the headquarters of Petroleos de Mexico, or Pemex, the troubled but powerful state oil monopoly.
November 1, 2012 | By Jerry Hirsch
Hurricane Sandy blew away tens of thousands of auto sales and destroyed an undetermined number of cars. After expressing the appropriate sympathy for the victims of this week's disaster, the industry is now jumping on the opportunity to sell those victims new cars. General Motors Co. and Nissan North America's Nissan and Infiniti brands all plan to offer special incentives and discounts for buyers of new vehicles in regions battered by the storm. More automakers are expected to follow.
April 15, 2012 | By Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Halifax, Canada - A cold wind ripped through Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Then came the frigid rain. In a minute, I was thinking, the headstones will be shivering. "Now," said Blair Beed, my guide, "imagine how it would have been in those lifeboats. Surrounded by ice. " He was talking about the Titanic, of course. Although this Halifax cemetery lies about 750 miles northwest of the waters where that celebrated ship went down April 15, 1912, it was the seamen of Halifax who retrieved more than 300 of the dead, along with a grim harvest of flotsam.
November 30, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
When the weight of strangers' grief overwhelms him, Kenneth Feinberg takes a walk. Sometimes he buys an ice cream and sits on a park bench, letting the sun replenish his depleted well of compassion. Other times, after listening to the pain, anger and recriminations of the bereaved, Feinberg takes refuge in opera — not for its cathartic pathos, but because it's the one place where he can count on falling asleep. A balding, bespectacled lawyer with skin nearly as thick as his Boston accent, Feinberg must daily sort the emotional rubble of disaster.
September 26, 2011 | By Richard Simon, Washington Bureau
The federal disaster fund could run dry as early as Tuesday, but lawmakers showed no sign of compromise as another partisan showdown on the budget set the stage for a possible government shutdown later this week. Democratic and Republican leaders were not scheduled to talk Sunday about a measure to replenish the fund, which is used to aid victims and reimburse states hit by floods and other natural disasters, and to keep the government running past Friday, the end of the fiscal year.
September 22, 2011 | By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
The threat of a government shutdown intensified as the House surprised its Republican leadership and rejected a bill to fund the government that required cuts in programs to pay for aid for victims of Hurricane Irene and other disasters. The legislation was narrowly defeated Wednesday after a tense afternoon of vote counting. Conservatives voted against the bill because they thought its spending level was too high, and Democrats rejected it because of the requirement for cuts. The spending bill is needed to keep the government running through Nov. 18; current spending authority stops at the end of September.
In what has become a post-disaster ritual for California businesses, numerous lenders and retailers have offered assistance to the victims of this month's storms, with low-interest loans and deferrals on home mortgage and credit card payments. "Knowing that these things are lurking, we have (disaster assistance programs) pretty much ready to go," said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Kathleen Shilkret. "Unfortunately, we have had too much call for this."
The nightmares continued for weeks after Judith Tuohey returned home to Lake Forest from Oklahoma City. During the day, the smallest things can bring on a rush of emotion: when someone walks by her who's just eaten a Lifesaver, it triggers her memory of the rescue workers and the masks they had to wear--soaked in wintergreen to conceal odors at the site.
September 15, 2011 | By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
Breaking a logjam that threatened to furlough 80,000 aviation and construction workers, Congress sent President Obama legislation to extend federal air and transportation bills, narrowly averting a Friday deadline. But legislation to replenish depleted Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster-aid funds remained mired in partisan gridlock, opposed by House Republican leaders who insist that supplemental funds to pay for Hurricane Irene and other disasters be paid with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.
June 28, 2010 | Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Richard Fausset
As the first powerful storm of the Atlantic hurricane season tore across the Yucatan Peninsula on Sunday, the massive flotilla striving to contain and clean the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hoped the weather wouldn't force it to get out of the way. Meteorologists predicted that the tropical storm named Alex was more likely to blow into the eastern coast of Mexico rather than due north to the spill site. But a major storm could require the evacuation of ships taking up some of the oil through a pipe system — leaving as many as 60,000 barrels a day gushing unabated.
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