WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will visit Florida on Thursday to survey damage from Hurricane Irma.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the president’s visit during Tuesday’s press briefing.

Melania Trump revealed on Twitter that she would travel with the president.

“My concern continues for all impacted by the hurricanes. Will fly to #Florida on Thursday w @potus to survey the damages from #HurricaneIrma,” said a post on Melania Trump’s official Twitter account.

Trump owns Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and three other properties in Florida. He recently made two trips to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The White House has not revealed where the Trumps will visit in Florida. Most of the state experienced some impact, with Gov. Rick Scott on Monday saying the Keys appeared to be hardest hit.

—The Palm Beach Post


Latest vanishing Florida species: The ice cube

MIAMI — It was once the standard sarcastic reply of a generation of American parents when their baby boomer children said they wanted a pony or a battleship or a house made of gumdrops and cake frosting: “There are people in Hell who want ice water.” But this week in Florida, which without electricity in mid-September is the spitting image of Hell, the aphorism turned literal: Everybody wants ice. And they aren’t gonna get it anytime soon.

With ice factories up and down the state shut down by Hurricane Irma — including one of South Florida’s biggest, in Davie — and emergency services forces like police and hospitals getting most of what little supply remains, ice cubes might as well be made of gold.

“Our freezers are still working, and we still have some ice,” said Jenny Fayad, co-owner of Miami distributor Emergency Ice. “But tomorrow or maybe the next day, we’re going to run out, and then the closest place we can buy ice is Tennessee. Tennessee! Can you believe it?”

Of the 15 or 20 mayor ice suppliers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, some learned that their entire inventory literally melted away over the weekend when their electricity died. Others sold out quickly on Monday as frantic buyers called in with big orders.

Resupply won’t be easy. Several of South Florida’s ice factories were knocked out by high wind and floodwaters, and won’t be back in business anytime soon.

“In these natural disasters, we do everything we can, but it’s hard to get things back up and running smoothly,” said Darren Boruff, vice president of Dallas-based Reddy Ice, which had several Florida factories — including a huge one in Davie — knocked out. “There’s a long checklist of things you’ve got to do first. The startup process, unfortunately, takes a while.”

The Davie factory can turn out something between 8 and 10 tons of ice an hour when it’s running at full blast. But before that can happen, Reddy Ice has to re-establish a stable power supply, test its water, and then test the ice itself.

The startup process is all too familiar to Reddy executives, who just went through the same thing with factories in the Houston area scrambled by Hurricane. (Reddy is one the country’s biggest ice suppliers, operating in 31 states.)

“It took us several days to get back to get the facilities running again there,” said Boruff, who was reluctant to set a precise timetable for the return of the Davie plant. “We implore people to be patient. We have employees who were storm victims as well.”

Another factory, belonging to Opa-locka-based Florida Ice Corp, is still operating — but well below capacity. Using a generator rather than the Florida Power & Light hookup that was knocked out by the storm, the factory is producing 170 to 180 tons a day rather than its usual 250 tons a day.

—Miami Herald


CDC reportedly tells employees not to speak to reporters

ATLANTA — The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly cracking down on the release of information to the public by its scientists and other staff members.

Axios, an online political-news site, obtained a memo from CDC public affairs officer Jeffrey Lancashire, who instructed agency employees not to speak to reporters “even for a simple data-related question.”

“Effective immediately and until further notice, any and all correspondence with any member of the news media, regardless of the nature of the inquiry, must be cleared through CDC’s Atlanta communications office,” the Aug. 31 memo said, according to Axios. “This correspondence includes everything from formal interview requests to the most basic of data requests.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the CDC’s Atlanta communications office Tuesday, only to encounter a recording that suggested calling again later.

The CDC has long kept tight control over its external communications, as well as over its campus. The complex has evolved into an armed encampment in the post-9/11 world.

But individual scientists and researchers have generally been available to explain their findings — which, of course, often have major implications for public health and, therefore, tend to interest the public (also known as taxpayers).

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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