Atlanta Remaining Under State Of Emergency Amid Water Service Troubles

Atlanta, Georgia is currently under a state of emergency as it continues to combat major disruptions to its water services, according to reports. Residents are currently being advised to boil their water before using/consuming it. 

“To the people of Atlanta, I do want to apologize that this has frustrated you and frustrated me this weekend. This is not the way the city nor the visitors, residents intended to spend our weekend, having to boil water and deal with low pressure or water outages in certain areas,” Mayor Andre Dickens said on “CNN News Central” on Monday morning.

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Ever since Friday, the city has been impacted by water service issues. That day, the first two of a series of water main breaks occurred along two pipes. One was a 36-inch pipe and the other was a 48-inch pipe. Dickens stated that these were about a century old, and one of the failed pipes was installed in 1910, with the other being installed in 1930. 

One of the pipes was repaired on Saturday night, just hours before Dickens would declare an official state of emergency. Repairs for the other initial break are still not completed. Around 1 a.m. this Monday, workers turned off water for several blocks in the area of the breakage, which led to a geyser to erupt from the pipe’s break. 

The geyser eventually stopped flowing, and officials are currently “pleased with the direction that the repairs are going now,” said Al Wiggins Jr., the director of the city’s Department of Watershed Management. 

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“Right now, most Atlantans have water, it’s just we want to make sure that they boil it out of a precautionary measure,” Dickens told CNN.

“I’m very hopeful that in the next hour or so that we can lift (the advisory),” Dickens said.

“As of Monday morning, officials did not have a reason to believe the water main breaks were connected,” Wiggins said.

Fire and police officials stated that they were distributing water in the areas where water had been turned off, and they emphasized that first-responder services are still active and have not been impacted by the breaks. 

Parts of the city are currently without water and/or are under boil water advisories. Tourist attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola are currently shut down, and two big events, including two Meg Thee Stallion concerts, have been canceled. 

“I know it has been a tough and frustrating day for many of you. We all take this matter very seriously,” Dickens said.


Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Abortion Law Challenging, Upholding Six-Week Ban

In a ruling from Georgia’s State Supreme Court this week, the state upheld their banning of abortions past the six-week mark. 

The ruling also reverses a lower court’s decision to get rid of certain sections of the LIFE Act; which bans abortion when early cardiac activity is detected. The lower court wanted to void certain aspects of the LIFE Act because it was enacted prior to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe Vs. Wade. 

According to CNN, the ruling made on Tuesday stated that “the trial court erred in relying on overruled decisions of the United States Supreme Court to conclude that portions of the LIFE Act violated the United States Constitution when enacted in 2019. 

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The same United States Constitution governs today as when the LIFE Act was enacted, and Georgia courts are required to look to the United States Supreme Court’s now-controlling interpretation of the United States Constitution when determining whether a statutory law violates that Constitution. 

We are pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to defend the constitutionality of Georgia’s LIFE Act,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.

Monica Simpson, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and also a plaintiff in case, responded to the decision made by the courts this week: 

“Today’s devastating decision means that our people will continue to face the horrible reality that they are in today where Georgians are suffering because they cannot access abortion care.”

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“This abortion ban has forced Georgians to travel across state lines at great expense or continue the life-altering consequences of pregnancy and childbirth against their wills,” she stated. 

Lauren Eden, advocate for the Abortion Survivors network, told CNN, “I am thrilled. It’s going to protect so many innocent lives like mine. This will not only protect the lives of unborn babies, but also the lives of the mothers who we know suffer so much pain after an abortion procedure.”

Georgia House Democrats, spoke out against the decision in a statement, “This harmful decision leaves in place a deadly restriction on reproductive rights and criminalizes doctors who are seeking to provide life saving healthcare to patients across the state.”

The Georgia State Supreme Court plaintiffs said the ban “violates the due-process, equal-protection, and/or inherent-rights provisions of the Georgia Constitution.”


Hurricane Idalia Continues Tracks Through Southeastern Georgia After Pummeling Florida

Hurricane Idalia has already made history in some parts of Florida after making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph on Wednesday. It is the strongest hurricane to hit Florida’s Big Bend Area in over 125 years.

In 1896, an unnamed Category 3 hurricane struck the state’s gulf coast at sustained winds of 125 mph. Since then, no hurricane of Idalia’s strength has hit the region.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee issued two extreme wind warnings on Wednesday morning. The warnings are only issued when winds exceeding 115 mph are expected in the area, and there have only been 27 such warnings for extremely high winds in the contiguous United States prior to Hurricane Idalia. Most of these advisories were issued in Florida.

While moving over the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, Hurricane Idalia experienced a period of rapid intensification, drawing its energy from the heightened sea surface temperatures.

Any increase in wind speeds by more than 35 mph within 24 hours is classified as rapid intensification, and Hurricane Idalia’s winds strengthened by 55 mph over 24 hours.

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Scientists have long been concerned about warming ocean waters due to climate change. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Southern Florida reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this summer.

On Wednesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a White House briefing that storms have become more frequent and severe due to global warming.

“These storms are intensifying so fast that our local emergency management officials have less time to warn and evacuate and get people to safety.”

Recent measurements show that the surface waters in Idalia’s path had reached nearly 88 degrees Fahrenheit, an all-time high since the early 1980s.

A rare blue supermoon will likely make the storm worse, with its gravitational pull causing tides to rise further. Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina, told The Associated Press, “I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one.”

The supermoon is expected to exacerbate flooding not only in Florida but also in states such as Georgia and South Carolina. Some parts of Charleston, South Carolina, could be underwater by Wednesday night.

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According to CNN, on Wednesday morning, Idalia’s storm surge was record-breaking from Tampa to The Big Bend region, with surges of more than 8 feet in Cedar Key, Florida, around 6.8 feet above their normal tides. The measurement surpassed the previous high water level of 5.99 feet from Hurricane Hermine in 2016. Wednesday morning’s high tide in Tampa Bay was 4.5 feet, topping the 3.79-foot mark set by Tropical Storm Eta in 2020.

At 4.05 feet, the tide at Clearwater Beach was higher than it had been since the 1993 Storm of the Century, which had been recorded at 4.02 feet. The Steinhatchee River in Steinhatchee, Florida, saw a 9-foot rise in water levels in just two hours.

As of 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday,  Hurricane Idalia has weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as it barrels through Southeastern Georgia, moving at 20 mph with maximum sustained winds of around 75 mph. It still remains an active threat to the Southeast.

FEMA Administrator Criswell also told reporters President Biden contacted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis “to let him know that the federal family continues to be there to support him.”

“The president reiterated that if anything is needed from the federal government, we will be able to support; and we have over 1,000 personnel currently deployed, prepared to support not just Florida, but all of our states that are in the path as needed.”

50 Million Americans Under Flash Flood Warnings As Tropical Storm Elsa Moves Up East Coast

Tropical Storm Elsa is currently heading north along the East Coast of the US, and is expected to impact all major cities along the way. More than 50 million Americans woke up to flash flood warnings as severe weather conditions have already begun to impact a majority of the coast. 

The center of the storm is projected to go over Dover, Delaware early Friday morning and will make its way towards Boston by the afternoon, according to meteorologist Robert Shackelford. The storm has already caused tornados, multiple injuries, and at least one death in Florida and Georgia this week. 

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In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was pre-positioning crews and equipment yesterday all throughout Long Island, where the storm is forecast to be the most intense. 

The MTA will also be banning all empty tractor-trailers and tandem trucks from its seven bridges and two tunnels until at least noon on Friday. This ban is due to heavy wind gusts and rain which could cause larger vehicles to be more susceptible to tipping over. 

The National Hurricane Center announced that the storm is currently moving at a rate of 25 mph and has hit a maximum sustained wind speed of 50 mph. Much of the Northeast is expected to see 2 to 4 inches of rainfall by the weekend. 

Once Elsa’s center passes by a given area, residents can still expect to see heavy rainfall and high wind speeds on the outskirts. 

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Some tornadoes were also reported across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia on Wednesday. An EF-2 tornado caused multiple injuries and damage at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay, Georgia. 

“Thankfully, there was no loss of life here last night. This tornado that came through could have been a lot worse,” base commanding officer Capt. Chester Parks told local media outlets. 

Parks said that a tornado impacted by the southside of the navy base ended up moving north, hitting the base of an RV park on the way. Twelve recreational vehicles were damaged and nine people were transported to the navy base for medical treatment. 

Elsa initially hit Florida earlier this week, and caused the most damage in both the sunshine state and Georgia. The entire storm system touched down this Wednesday along the Gulf Coast in Taylor County, Florida. 

“Winds starting howling in the middle of the night, and rain starting pounding the windows. Never seen anything like this before in my life,” said Johnathan Riches who was staying at a motel in Cedar Key, Florida when the storm hit.


How Netflix Influenced Georgia And Hollywood To Stand Up For Women’s Rights

Georgia has become known as a second Hollywood throughout the past few years. With its vast and diverse landscapes, the state can be transformed into practically any setting, and with the tax credits, more and more production teams are choosing Georgia over standard Hollywood sets. Tyler Perry just opened a record breaking film and production space that takes up 330 acres of the famous state. Additionally major TV Shows and movie productions such as “The Walking Dead,” “Atlanta,” “Stranger Things,” “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “The Hunger Games” were all filmed there, according to CNN

Georgia also made headlines this past year for announcing the passing of their restrictive abortion law stating that an abortion cannot be performed anytime after 6 weeks of pregnancy, or when the fetal heartbeat can be detected. Georgia received a lot of backlash for this law, mainly for the fact that most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at 6 weeks, giving them little to no chance of even thinking about what decision they would want to make. 

When Georgia made this announcement earlier in the year, Netflix decided to also make an announcement, and let the world know that they would be “rethinking” any of their current or future investments in Georgia if the law actually did go into effect in 2020. Netflix was the first major corporation to speak up against the Georgia legislation, and it posed a major risk for them. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos is the one who made the official statement back in May, and by doing so Sarandos was also making a much larger general statement to everyone that does or may work with Netflix; the company will always choose its core personal values over anything. 

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Ted Sarandos (Right)

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.” Sarandos said in a statement back in May to Variety Magazine.

The following two days after Sarandos issued that statement, Disney, AMC, Sony, CBS, and WarnerMedia (which also owns HBO, TNT, and TBS) all issued similar statements threatening to withdraw future investments if Georgia keeps the heartbeat law. With all these major production companies threatening to withdraw their billions from the state, it seems as though Georgia had no choice. Two weeks ago a federal Georgia judge blocked the heartbeat law from going into effect this upcoming January. For now, this means that there’s no chance that the law will be enforced once 2020 hits, however, many experts are predicting the state will appeal the blacking and the case will end up in front of the Supreme Court, according to CNN. 

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Young women protest against abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building

However, this was a hopeful blocking, as the federal court has made it abundantly clear many times that the states do not have the right to ban abortion, and the 6 week rule will most likely see its end. In the time being, Netflix and companies alike will be waiting and seeing. While it’s hard to say how much of the blocked law decision was made from the Netflix, Disney, Warner, etc. statements we definitely can conclude it had a major impact. Georgia’s economy would see a serious decline if all those production teams actually did go through with their threats. In 2019, over 455 television and movie productions were shot in Georgia, bringing in over $9.5 billion in indirect spending, according to CNN. That type of financial loss could be detrimental; so for now production corporations and viewers will have to wait to see what the future holds for Georgia and its restrictive laws. However, regardless of what happens, seeing such a large amount of corporations being so outspoken about their own personal values is truly a milestone for this country. 

“It is essential that Netflix treat creatives with respect, and many of them have trouble with abortion restrictions and any laws that impact women’s rights. They totally could have remained silent, and they didn’t. They’re aware that corporations speaking out are an important part of the big-picture strategy to keep abortion safe and legal. They know that they play a role in that and have power in that situation,” said Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of Women in Film, Los Angeles, to CNN.