5 Things That Happened While You Were Out: Aug. 4, 2020

Welcome to the final hours of a downright gloomy Tuesday, CivMixers!!

We are feeling the effect of Tropical Storm Isaias, which made landfall in the Carolinas and has been moving steadily north up the coast. When Isaias hit in North Carolina, it was strong enough to be still categorized as a Category 1 hurricane. It has since been downgraded to tropical storm status, but that’s plenty bad enough.

Here in the Capital Region, we’ve been under a few different watches/warnings. Please, keep eyes up towards the sky and an ear out for any notifications that situation is deteriorating.

There is currently a tornado watch posted for the remainder of the day. Also, a flash flood watch is in effect, so be mindful of standing water and do not drive through any deep standing puddles on the road if you can help it. There are multiple reports around the region of stranded vehicles.

Alright, with my weather PSA out of the way, shall we jump into our “5 Things” for today?

1) A lot of air time and ink has been devoted to the Isaias, as the storm has left flooding, downed trees, power outages and the aftermath of many tornadoes in its wake. The storm is showing no signs of letting up.

In Bertie County, North Carolina, there is one reported death as a result of a tornado that hit the area, according to the state’s emergency management director, Mike Sprayberry. One of the tornadoes hit a mobile home park resulting in many injuries and also that aforementioned death. Emergency crews are working in partnership with utility crews to clear debris from roads, restore power, and assess damage to flooded structures.

According to the National Weather Service, heavy rains and subsequent flash flooding should continue to be expected along the line of the storm’s path, and the flooding could be deadly.

In North Carolina, approximately 370,000 power outages are reported – mainly in the eastern part of the state. Many of those issues come from tornadoes that preceded the landfall of Isaias. There were also fires, which seems incongruous with all the water the storm has dumped, but a storm of this magnitude carries with it a multitude of programs.

Weakening slowly, even over land, Isaias is heading north-northeast steadily at 35 MPH. The outer bands of this massive storm are pushing tropical-storm-force winds outward for up to 140 miles. The National Hurricane Center expects it to start weakening at a quicker rate at some point tonight and be downgraded to a tropical depression – or “post-tropical” – by early tomorrow.

The best thing about this storm appears to be its speed, as experts predict it will move to Canada by late tonight.

2) U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today said that he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are closing the gap in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over the next round of COVID-19 relief aid legislation.

The sides remain far apart on things such as the scale of the aid needed and the priorities to be covered, but they are making progress, Schumer said.

Meadows and Mnuchin met earlier with Senate Republicans to discuss the areas where significant differences remain – mainly on extending unemployment benefits, business liability protections, school funding, aid for local and state governments, and election security.

Schumer continued to blame the delay on the Republicans, accusing them of being unwilling to accept the scope of aid needed for the average American to survive.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, continued to blame Democrats and what he views as their desire to overspend. He floated the idea of sending the members home later this week if no deal is reached. The members of the House have already been released.

Federal Reserve officials, meanwhile, are urging the Trump administration and Congress to quickly assist the tens of millions who continue to be unemployed due to the COVID crisis in order to shore up the sagging economy.

Congress missed last Friday’s deadline for extending the FPUC of $600, leaving millions in the lurch. Democrats want to extend the FPUC at its current increased rate, while Republicans want to lower the payment, perhaps as low as $200 a week.

Republicans say $600 is too generous and actively dissuades people from returning to work. The Fed weighed in on that view yesterday, saying there’s actually little evidence to support such a claim. The other significant sticking point is whether to extend the temporary moratorium on evictions.

3) Yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that extended the look-back window for the Child Victims Act. This will allow all survivors of any age to file any claim against alleged abusers that were previously barred due to time constraints.

The first look-back window was set to expire later this month. Advocates have been pushing for it to be extended due to delays and court shutdowns caused by the novel coronavirus. Cuomo initially continued the window through January 2021. However, he now extended it to the full extra year.

Survivors will now have until Aug. 14, 2021, to file any claims. In a tweet, Cuomo stated that the new deadline will assure that all survivors have the opportunity to get their day in court against their alleged abusers.

This was a turn around for the governor. In February, he said lawmakers knew what they were doing when they set the initial one-year window. But the court closures caused extended filing delays, which apparently helped influence his thinking.

4) There is a virtual forum tonight being held by the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee. Their goal is a lofty one – to come up with community-oriented police reforms for the city.

The Committee members hope their “A Blank Sheet of Paper – Re-imagining Law Enforcement in the City of Albany” forum will help the APD and the community unite in a common goal. This is the first in a series of conversations that are in the works.

The ACP committee’s ultimate goal is to have firm proposals to make for reforms by the April 1 deadline for the police-reform requirement set by Cuomo.

The forum is at 7 p.m. tonight on the Committee’s Facebook page.

5) The Schenectady Police Department announced two arrests in connection with the shooting that resulted in the death of Jennifer Ostrander, 31, that occurred Aug. 2.

Yesterday, a 17-year-old male suspect was arrested, and his identification is being withheld because of his age. Joel J. Johnson, 21, was also arrested. They are both being charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree murder. These charges could be punishable by up to 40 years in jail.

SPD says it is still an ongoing investigation.

That is almost all for today. I just wanted to make sure everyone is aware that the tornado watch for the Capital District remains in effect until 9 p.m.

Stay steady, stay strong, stay safe.

Stay woke.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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