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Concern Grows for Loved Ones in Puerto Rico


As Hurricane Maria inches closer to Puerto Rico, many Connecticut residents with friends and family on the island are concerned.

Ricardo Martinez’s father lives along the northern coast near Arecibo and his backyard backs up to the beach, but it is his father’s health problems that concern him even more.

“My father has kidney problems so he’s taking dialysis. Right now it’s a problem because Puerto Rico could go three, four, maybe even more months without light, without water. It’s hard for me,” said Ricardo Martinez, of New Britain.

Much of Martinez’s family lost power for days when Hurricane Irma took a glancing blow to Puerto Rico two weeks ago. He is praying for their safety, while others like Karen Morales headed into the storm’s path.

She boarded the last non-stop flight from Bradley International Airport to San Juan, Puerto Rico Tuesday morning. She plans to take care of her elderly parents and secure their home.

“On the island there’s nothing. There’s no gasoline, there’s no tenders, nothing to hold your roof, no water. It’s chaos down there right now, so I’m bringing provisions for my family, Hopefully we’ll ride it out and everything will be fine,” said Morales.

The airport in San Juan is expected to close Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Iran's President Warns of Cost of US Dropping Nuclear Deal


If Donald Trump backs out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, "no one will trust America again," Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, told NBC News.

The move would also leave Iran free to resume work on expanding its nuclear capabilities, Rouhani said in the interview, which took place shortly before Trump's first speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.

Trump called Tehran a "murderous regime" and hit out at the deal, which was agreed between Iran and six world powers, the United States included.

"Every word was analyzed many times by countries involved before its ratification, so if the United States were to not adhere to the commitments and trample upon this agreement, this will mean that it will carry with it the lack of subsequent trust from countries towards the United States because the greatest capital that any country has is trust and credibility," Rouhani told "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt.

Photo Credit: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP, FIle
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Wires Down, Power Out in Groton


Power is out to Pfizer in Groton and the surrounding area after power lines came down.

Electrical wires came down on Rainville Avenue and Benham Road, according to Groton Utilities. Officials said wind likely brought down a tree branch, which took down primary lines and sent surges through the system, which affected more lines in the area.

The utility company said power is out along Eastern Point Road and south of Rainville Avenue and crews are working on fixing the problem.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Investigating Home Invasion in Mystic


Police are investigating a home invasion on Hewitt Road in Mystic Tuesday morning and the resident who was home has been taken to the hospital. 

The victim reported the home invasion at 10:12 a.m. and police said she was the only resident home when the intruder broke in. 

The resident was transported to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital to be treated for minor injuries. 

Stonington Police Department’s detective division is investigating.

Photo Credit: WNBC

Ferries Canceling Because of Hurricane Jose


Ferries have been canceled for the day because of Hurricane Jose.

Cross Sound Ferry has canceled the Lighthouse Cruise and the Sea Jet for Tuesday because of weather. There will be no casino connections.

The 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. New London ferries and the 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Orient Point, New York ferries have also been canceled. 

The Block Island Ferry has also canceled all ferries for today because of adverse sea conditions. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

3 in Custody After Chase on I-91 from Mass. to Hartford


Three people are in custody after a chase from Massachusetts ended on Interstate 91 South in Hartford, according to state police. 

State Police said four to five cruisers from both Connecticut and Massachusetts have been struck. 

The chase ended in the area of exit 32. 

There was a large police presence and the highway appeared to be shut down, but it has reopened. No injuries are reported.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Wolcott Family in St. Maarten Hid Under a Mattress When Irma Struck


A Wolcott family is back in Connecticut safe and sound after being stranded in St. Maarten and having to come face-to-face with hurricane Irma. 

The group of three women tried to cut their vacation short and evacuate before Irma arrived, but they were too late and had to literally watch the last plane fly away. 

"There goes our last chance," Kathleen McFarland said as she looked up. 

With nowhere to go, they hunkered down at their resort. 

"The doors were right next to each other and they were shaking so hard I thought the doors were going to be ripped off. So I took an alarm clock and tied the doors closed with the power cord, because I knew once the doors came off, the debris would start flying in and lot of it was sharp metal and glass," said Sarah Linsalato. 

"We picked up a mattress and we hid in the closet underneath a mattress. That's when our bedroom ceiling came down," said McFarland. 

As the three hid, the winds got stronger, the women said. 

"A Jeep blew by us like it was a piece a paper in the wind," said McFarland, "At that moment we were just in survival mode.” 

After hours of strong winds, debris and fear, Irma passed. The three found their passports and headed to the airport. 

The U.S. Military then transported the family to Puerto Rico. They later got a flight back to Connecticut.

The women said they are happy to be home but their hearts go out to the natives on the island. 

"We're home, we lived through it, they have a long way to go," said McFarland.

Photo Credit: McFarland Family

Deadly 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico


A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico Thursday in the state of Puebla, which is about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City. This latest quake comes less than two weeks after an 8.1 earthquake hit the country, killing nearly 100 people.

3 Suspects Arrested After East Windsor Home Invasion: Police


Three people were arrested on Tuesday for breaking into an East Windsor home, police said. 

East Windsor police said they responded to the home invasion at a residence on Kreyssig Road.

The suspects broke into the home while a resident was still inside, police said. The resident inside the home was able to call 911 and give a description of the people who just broke into the house. 

Later, a matching vehicle fleeing the scene was stopped by police and three people were arrested for the break-in, police said. 

No injuries were reported.

Police said the investigation is ongoing but all suspects involved have been arrested. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Suspect in Stolen Car Flees, Leaves Toddler at Scene: Police


The suspect driving a stolen car fled the scene and left his 2-year-old in the vehicle after he struck a utility pole and tree, Hamden police said. 

Hamden police saw the stolen car traveling north on Mix Avenue at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. 

When officers attempted to stop the car, it turned into a residential driveway on Mix Avenue. 

When officers approached the vehicle, the driver, identified as Gamalier Estrada, "sped in reverse in an alarming, reckless rate of speed directly" toward the cops and nearly struck them, Hamden police said. 

Subsequently, Estrada drove from the police at a high rate of speed and collided with another vehicle before coming to a stop after striking a tree and a utility police, police said. 

Estrada fled the the scene on foot but returned shortly after to retrieve his 2-year-old son, who was in the back seat, police said. 

The suspect was arrested and the Department of Children and Families were notified. 

Estrada, of New Haven, was charged with larceny, risk of injury to a minor, reckless endangerment, interfering with a police officer, engaging an officer in pursuit and operating under suspension. 

His bond was set $50,000. 

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

'Rattled': NBC Journalist Endures Deadly Mexico Quake


A San Diego-based Telemundo 20 journalist visiting her family in central Mexico said she couldn’t move her feet as the wall of her family’s home collapsed before her eyes during Tuesday’s deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

"It felt like the whole house was coming down; it felt like the Earth was opening up beneath our feet,” Fabiola Berriozabal, a digital media producer with T20, recounted in a FaceTime video interview with NBC 7. "We couldn’t move or stand up."

Berriozabal said she was finishing breakfast with her mother, brother and grandparents on the patio of her mother’s home in Tepoztlan – a town in the Mexican state of Morelos, south of Mexico City – when the Earth began to shake violently.

"I panicked, and then I saw my brother’s eyes panicking, and then I realized how big [the earthquake] was," she said. "Next thing I know, the pipe is coming down, there’s water falling from the top of the roof."

From where the family was sitting on the patio, Berriozabal said it looked as if the house was "falling towards [them]," which prompted her grandmother to tell the others to leave her behind to save themselves. 

"I was scared because you could actually feel it, like in the bottom of your feet," Berriozabal said. "I couldn’t stand still. I couldn’t stand up. It’s just like being thrown around and rattled. We wanted to move away from the house and we really couldn’t until it stopped.”

Berriozabal and her family were able to get to safety. When they looked up, they realized a large wall of the home had come crumbling down.

Large cracks ran down the walls and debris was strewn about the residence. Photo frames holding family pictures were on the ground lying along the length of a staircase.

Holding back tears, Berriozabal said she couldn’t describe the pain of seeing her family’s home damaged in this way. Her mother has lived there for nearly 20 years.

Berriozabal walked over to a wall where pen markings recorded the heights over the years of she and her family members – a wall that holds so many special family moments.

“Memories,” she lamented. “It’s a home.”

Berriozabal said this was the worst earthquake she’s ever experienced. It happened to hit on the anniversary of Mexico’s devastating 1985 quake, which killed 9,500 victims.

Police officers were going around to homes in her mother’s neighborhood checking the safety of the structures, Berriozabal said. 

At this point, she said she’s not sure if her mother’s home can be salvaged or if it will need to be taken down and completely rebuilt.

She said neighbors were also devastated by the disaster. One family, trying to keep their young son calm, said they planned to sleep in their car. Their son was crying after the earthquake because he had seen so many adults around him crying, Berriozabal said.

Photo Credit: Fabiola Berriozabal

Video Captures Dramatic Moment During Mexico Quake


Ana Paula Hernandez captured the moment a deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico as she attempted to hide under her office desk.

Gusty Winds, Rain in Connecticut as Jose Approaches


Hurricane Jose is roughly 280 miles to the south of Southern New England. Winds are currently sustained at 75 mph. 

Jose is still expected to track approximately 125 miles to the southeast of Nantucket. 

Connecticut will only experience some fringe effects, especially for the southeast corner. A tropical storm watch was issued over the weekend for southern Connecticut, but it was canceled at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Winds are currently gusting over 30 mph in southern New London County. Wind gusts will gradually pick up throughout the night with gusts up to 45 mph along the southeastern Connecticut shoreline. 

Waves are becoming quite large just over the Connecticut border in Rhode Island. Waves are currently 6 to 8 feet, waves heights will increase by tomorrow morning with waves of 10 to 14 feet expected. 

Photo Credit: NHC NOAA

Emotional Issues Possibly Linked to Youth Football: Study


Children who begin playing tackle football before the age of 12 have a higher probability of enduring emotional issues in adulthood than if those who took up the sport later, according to a new study.

The findings, from a long-term study at Boston University, will likely add to mounting concerns among American parents about letting their children take part in football at a young age.

The study of more than 200 adults found that those who started playing before 12 had more than three times the risk for signs of depression and double of the chance of "clinically meaningful impairments" to behavior, according to the findings presented in the journal Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

One of the co-authors told STAT.com that the study has a "ton of limitations," but the study itself presents football as a potentially dire risk to players.

"Overall, this study provides further evidence that playing youth American football may have long-term clinical implications, including behavioral and mood impairments," according to the report.

The study adds to mounting evidence linking football with brain injuries and emotional issues for current and former players due to head trauma involved in the game's many hits to the head.

"When do we ask ourselves, 'Does it make sense for my kid to be hitting his head several hundred times per season?'" Dr. Robert A. Stern, one of the co-authors and a Boston University scientist, told STAT.com.

Beyond the findings, the report called for more testing to further explore the effects on playing football and whether changes to the sport are necessary.

"Youth exposure to football may have long-term neurobehavioral consequences," the study concluded. "Additional research studies, especially large cohort longitudinal studies, are needed to better understand the potential long-term clinical implications of youth American football to inform policy and safety decision-making."

Its release comes on a day when the much-publicized class action lawsuit involving thousands of former NFL players and the professional football league was back in court in Philadelphia. A federal judge with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania heard from one of the attorneys for more than 20,000 former pros. A $1 billion settlement that was agreed to last year is set to provide thousands with payouts from the league.

Yet the massive suit has remained bogged down by administrative and legal hurdles, according to reports since the payouts were set to begin in January.

One of the players' lead attorneys was expected to address U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Center City about concerns Brody has over the process, according to the Associated Press.

Photo Credit: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images, FIle

How a Donor Finds Out Where Their Charity Money Goes


You may have seen the chart floating around social media the days after both hurricanes, Harvey and Irma. 

As the gulf coast and the Caribbean look to recover from this relentless hurricane season, many charities have relied on your donations for help.

But with that comes some misleading or confusing information about who you should trust with your money and what it goes toward. 

So, where do you go?

"At the end of the day, you wanna know where the money's going but you really want to know what has my money done. And getting to a place where you can talk about a charity's effectiveness is where we're all trying to go," Michael Thatcher, the CEO of Charity Navigator, said.

In a collaboration with Guidestar, Charity Navigator's Thatcher plans to consolidate both the companies' data to give donors as much information as possible ahead of Giving Tuesday in November.

Thatcher said the efforts should help dispell misleading information like one chart recently circulating social media. 

Among other falsehoods, the chart claims the American Red Cross' president and CEO is Marsha Evans with a salary of $650,000 a year. 

Gail McGovern actually leads the Red Cross and according to the charity's 990, she makes about $517,000. Her salary falls under administrative costs, which makes 4 percent of the Red Cross' expenses.

The chart also references March of Dimes, saying it only gives 10 percent of its donations. But Thatcher said that is also false. 

NBC Connecticut Responds asked Thatcher if there is a consolidated way to see how much of a donor's dollar will go to those in need. 

"The easiest way is we'll do this on the ratings pages and you look at it, you look up an organization on charitynavigator.org, you see a breakdown of the financials and the accountability and transparency and if you look at the program expense you can see how much of every dollar or what percentage point are going to the program expense," he said.

About 75 percent of March of Dimes' costs fall under the "program expense", which means that is how much it spends on the services it delivers. 

"The best way to actually engage with a charity is to call them up and interact with them," Thatcher said.

In a statement, the Red Cross spokesperson said:

"This is considered in the middle range for executives of large non-profits like the Red Cross, an organization with an overall budget of $2.7 billion a year."

A March of Dimes spokesperson told NBC Connecticut they give more than $120 million towards various mission investments per year. 

The bottom line: do your independent research on a charity and if you feel confused or conflicted, then give the people you know and trust instead of an organization.

For more on Charity Navigator, check out the website

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1 Person Shot at Apartment Complex in Berlin

Shoreline Relieved Hurricane Jose Not Worse


With Hurricane Jose backing off the southeastern shoreline, many people are breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t be feeling the entirety of its wrath.

But they’re still taking steps to protect themselves.

“Normally we don’t have our dingy in the shop, it’s outside on the dock. We brought that in (and) all our plants and planters,” MW Costal Goods owner Wendy Hille said. 

Her shop is right on the water in Noank, so she and her husband prepared for the worst amid warnings of Jose. On Tuesday, a couch was planted on a table, furniture was on cinderblocks and sandbags were on the ground.

“As you can see, we took all precautions. We weren’t sure what we were going to get here and being feet from the water, we just had to be prepared,” Hille said.

She’s had water in her business before, but she’s thrilled the worst of Jose has backed away.

“We’re relieved for sure. But looking around knowing I have to put all this away,” Hille said.

While many are taking their boats out of the water, commercial fisherman Kirk Houltine is preparing his to get his back in.

“This is our bread and butter right here,” Houltine said. “She’s a seaworthy boat.”

Houltine's thrilled Jose won’t be surging through the shores in Noank, so he can keep earning his paycheck.

“We’re just pretty relieved because (of) damage and the docks get damage – we have to replace the docks,” Houltine said.

At Noank Shipyard, crews were hauling some boats out of the water, double tying others, and moving the big ones to Seaport Marine in Mystic. There are heavier winds and storm surge in Noank compared to the Mystic shipyard, according to Dockmaster Jason Goldstein.

He too is glad the southeastern shoreline is now safer from Jose.

“Good thing to see that we can do it and move all the boats, and it’s more for a safety precaution to move everything than it is not to,” Goldstein said.

It’s a “better safe than sorry” approach. The same is the case for Groton Emergency Management.

“Utility companies – they’ve got and are moving crews into the area just in case, because it’s going to be a southeastern Connecticut deal,” said Emergency Management Director Joe Sastre.

It helped later when a tree branch fell on a power line, causing a surge and several power outages in the area. Traffic lights were out and temporary stop signs put up to navigate traffic. City of Groton Deputy Fire Chief Robert Tompkins said the wind was likely to blame.

Groton Utilities said as of 3:22 p.m. on Tuesday, all power was restored to the affected areas on Eastern Point Road and south of Rainville Avenue.

Connecticut Home Market Struggling Compared to Massachusetts


Some new metrics show the Connecticut housing market remains fragile as it lags behind its neighbor to the north.

According to new data provided by the federal government and The Warren Group which tracks real estate trends, home construction permits in Connecticut were down from July 2016 to July 2017 by 26 percent, while in Massachusetts, the figures were up by the same margin over the same period of time.

In addition to construction, the median sales price in Connecticut increased by only one percent over that span, while the median price in Massachusetts increased by six percent.

Anna Sava, a real estate agent who specializes in homes in Connecticut’s Farmington Valley, said it isn’t all negative in Connecticut simply because the quality of life is so high with high achieving schools, and access to major cities like New York and Boston.

However, she said the cost of living is what she thinks has led to the real estate slow-down.

“Connecticut is one of the warmest and active places you could be but unfortunately it’s a little bit harder to live here from an economic standpoint and that’s what we’re up against,” Sava said.

She said higher-priced homes are more difficult to sell for their value because the taxes will be high, too. She added that leads to lower sale prices on homes that in other markets would sell for much more.

“The buyer that we have can’t necessarily afford the taxes that are going along with that home so in order to make up the difference, the seller is putting a lower price on their home, but it still cannot work with the taxes that are getting lopped onto that mortgage payment," Sava said. 

Sava said she’s an optimist as far as the Connecticut market making a comeback goes, but adds she isn’t sure when that’s going to happen.

“We’re still as great as we ever were but it takes a bit longer for us to do the real estate business piece," she said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Haven Could Run Out of Money in November: Mayor


One of the biggest cities on the shoreline could soon start feeling the consequences of the budget stalemate in Hartford.

The city of New Haven’s budget is $539 million and 41 percent of that is funded by state money, including more than $125 million for New Haven schools, Mayor Toni Harp said.

City departments depend on more than $76 million in funding from the state, Harp added.

“We can’t afford to not pick up trash,” Harp said. “We can’t afford to not clear the snow, we can’t afford not to have a functioning police department and we can’t afford to not have a fire department that keeps us safe.”

But funding for these critical city services could be in jeopardy if Governor Malloy does not sign off on a state budget soon.

“We will start to feel a funding pinch in November,” Harp said, “we run out of cash at that particular point in time.”

Despite that looming deadline, Mayor Harp said she has her concerns with the $40 billion Republican spending plan approved by state lawmakers in both chambers last week.

New Haven schools could feel the biggest impact.

“We are in the same boat with the City,” NHPS Chief Operating Officer Will Clark said in an email. “Literally would not be able to make payroll or pay for contracts/services largely due to lack of ECS and other state payments as well as grants, etc.”

Leaders from New Haven’s Board of Alders said they will consider and evaluate all options as the budget situation develops. The Mayor said she may consult the alders about possibly borrowing money.

“Hopefully the legislature will get the message and pass a budget that is fair and reasonable particularly to our most challenged cities and to our overall education system,” Harp said.

Governor Dannel Malloy plans to give the GOP budget a full vetting, but he intends to veto it.

Photo Credit: AP

UConn's President on Budget Cuts: 'Stakes Cannot Be Higher'


The University of Connecticut's (UConn) President Susan Herbst responded publicly to the Republican budget proposal that passed through the General Assembly with Democrat votes in the early morning last Saturday.

She said the university was prepared for some significant cuts, but said the GOP proposal is simply untenable.

"Of course, we have to be cut, we would never act like UConn is immune to what is going in the larger economy,” Herbst said.

The Republican budget, which unexpectedly passed the General Assembly, essentially tripled the overall cut proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislative Democrats.

According to UConn, the combined reduction would reach $124.6 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, and increase to $184.1 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The combined cut of more than $310 million, Herbst said, amounts to funding changes that would fundamentally transform the university.

In addition to the threat of closing campuses, shuttering colleges, and laying off non-SEBAC covered employees, Herbst said dropping Division 1 Athletics, “had to be discussed.”

Republicans frame the debate over funding for UConn as being a battle between municipal aid grants and social services and higher education. The Connecticut State College and University System, separate from UConn, also faces drastic cuts.

“Budgets are priorities and we think our social services and our municipalities need the money,” said Sen. Len Fasano, one of the architects of the GOP budget during an interview Monday. “UConn has got a huge foundation and has many ways of raising money where other people don’t have those resources.”

Herbst said she has a great working relationship with Fasano, and said she appreciates how difficult the budget situation is, but said he is mistaken when it comes to the use of grants and federal funding. She said those funding sources can’t be increased and then simply diverted for overall operating expenses and financial aid. She said those grants need to be used for a specific purpose, like medical or other research or continuation of study.

Fasano said some of the talk coming from Herbst regarding their financial situation, and threats regarding Husky athletics is unfounded.

“That’s a typical scare tactic to try to get people up in arms in the state of Connecticut,” Fasano said. “She knows and I know she’s never going to do any of that stuff.”

Governor Dan Malloy has pledged to vet the GOP budget but said he still intends to veto it and wants bipartisan negotiations for a budget to restart.

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