(WASHINGTON) -- An aide to former President Donald Trump, Walt Nauta, has been charged by the special counsel as part of their probe into Trump’s alleged taking of classified information, sources tell ABC News.
Nauta, a former valet in the Trump White House who left his role to join the former president as a personal aide in early 2021, was indicted by the same grand jury in Florida that indicted Trump on Thursday, the sources say.
It is not immediately clear what the exact charges are and an attorney for Nauta declined to comment when contacted by ABC News.
A federal grand jury voted to indict Trump on at least seven federal charges late Thursday as part of an investigation into his handling of classified documents, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The indictment comes after more than 100 documents with classified markings were found at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022.
Trump praised Nauta in a Truth Social post on Friday afternoon, writing that he was a Navy veteran "who served proudly with me in the White House, retired as Senior Chief, and then transitioned into private life as a personal aide."
(HOUSTON) -- More than a dozen teenagers from a church camp posing for a group photo were injured after a portion of a deck walkway collapsed at a seaside park in Texas, officials said.
The students were visiting Stahlman Park in Surfside Beach, Brazoria County, on Thursday with the Bayou City Fellowship when the incident occurred, the church said. Nearly 80 students from several campuses were on the trip, the church said.
Students from the Bayou City Fellowship's Cypress campus were taking a group photo when a portion of the deck collapsed around 12:30 p.m. local time, according to the church.
Footage from the scene showed a section of a wooden walkway ramp that had partially detached, falling on the grass below.
Nineteen students between the ages of 14 and 18 suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the incident, according to Brazoria County officials. Five were transported to a Houston-area Memorial Hermann hospital via a helicopter, five were taken by ambulance to local hospitals, and nine were taken to hospitals by private vehicles, the county said.
Multiple police, EMS and fire departments responded to the scene.
"While this is a traumatic event, we are blessed to report that none of the injuries are life-threatening," Bayou City Fellowship said in a statement. "We are thankful for the outpour of concern from our community and ask that the city and surrounding areas keep all that are affected physically and emotionally in prayer."
The church said it is not releasing the names of the victims or the nature of their injuries due to privacy concerns.
The incident remains under investigation, the county said.
Stahlman Park is located on the Gulf of Mexico, about 66 miles south of Houston.
(NEW YORK) -- A Florida woman appeared at her first court hearing after she was arrested in the shooting death of her neighbor, a mother of four, after an alleged dispute with the neighbor's children.
Susan Lorincz, 58, appeared in court via video from the Marion County Jail where she is currently being housed, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). The state attorney requested that Lorincz be held with no bond and said that the state would file a motion for pretrial detention.
Judge Lori Cotton said she will hold off on the bond hearing until the state files a motion for pretrial detention, which will be scheduled within five days. Cotton said Lorincz's next court date will be on July 11.
"The fact that she has no job, no property kind of limits her ties to this community," the state attorney said of Lorincz. "So we ask that, at least for the time being, she remain on a no-bond status."
Lorincz, who is white, allegedly shot and killed Ajike Owens, who is Black, on June 2 in Ocala, Florida, on the doorstep of Lorincz's home after Owens went to the suspect's residence to question her about a dispute with Owens' children, according to police documents.
Authorities say the suspect told police that she shot Owens, 35, in self-defense but through their investigation, the sheriff’s office said it was determined Lorincz’s actions were not justified under Florida law.
At a press conference Wednesday, Ben Crump, the attorney representing Owens' family, claimed Susan Lorincz often directed racial slurs at Black children around the neighborhood and antagonized them to not play on the field near her home.
Lorincz's attorney, the sheriff's office and the state attorney's office did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on these claims.
Lorincz mostly gave one-word answers during the hearing Thursday. One exception was when Cotton asked Lorincz if she planned to find a job. Lorincz said she has been out of work for two weeks and had been employed in the medical field helping people set up doctor's appointments.
"We set up appointments for people who have Medicare, Medicaid insurance," Lorincz said to the judge.
"Are you intending on getting another job?" Cotton asked.
"Eventually," Lorincz replied.
Lorincz was arrested this week and charged with first-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if convicted, the sheriff's office said in a statement. She was also charged with culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.
In a statement, MCSO explained they conducted interviews with witnesses, Owens' children and Lorincz.
"Ms. Lorincz's fate is now in the hands of the judicial system, which I trust will deliver justice in due course," Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. "As I go to bed tonight, I will be saying a prayer for Ms. Owens' children and the rest of her family. I'd ask all of you to do the same."
Woods said there was an ongoing feud between Lorincz and Owens. The day of the shooting, the children were playing in a field on the property in which the suspect's home is located. At that point, the suspect allegedly engaged in an argument with the children, the sheriff's department said.
Lorincz allegedly threw a pair of skates at Owens' 9-year-old son and hit the child in the toe, according to MCSO. Afterwards, the minor and his 12-year-old brother went to Lorincz's home to speak to her. Lorincz swung an umbrella at them, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.
The children notified Owens, resulting in Owens going to the suspect's home and demanding that she come out. That's when Lorincz shot Owens through her closed door, striking her in the upper chest, according to MCSO. Owen's 9-year-old son was beside her, police said.
"Our 12-year-old blames himself for the death of his mother because he couldn't save her," Pamela Dias, Owens' mother, said at a press conference on Wednesday. "He couldn't give her CPR. His words, 'Grandma, grandma, I couldn't save her! I tried to give her CPR! I tried to give her CPR!'"
According to police records, when officers arrived on the scene, they found Owens under a nearby tree with a gunshot wound. She had a faint pulse as the officers applied medical aid. Owens was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased later that evening.
In a press conference on Monday, Woods said that Florida Stand Your Ground laws made it harder to execute an immediate arrest. The sheriff's major crimes unit was finally able to arrest Lorincz on Tuesday after gathering enough evidence, the sheriff's department said.
"I pray that God gives me the strength, the wisdom and the ability to raise these children as our daughter would have us to do," Dias said. "[They] witnessed their mother murdered in cold blood."
(NEW YORK) -- While the Northeast may be unfamiliar with hazy conditions caused by smoke from wildfires, which blew down from Canada, the West Coast is far more familiar.
On the West Coast, wildfires are common, but over the past few years, they have become larger and more widespread, causing more damage.
With Canada currently on track to potentially experience its worst wildlife season ever, meaning New York City and other areas, could see more smoky conditions over the next few months, there may be lessons to learn from how the West Coast handles large blazes.
"I grew up in upstate New York, so I have relatives there, actually talked to a couple of them," Dr. Michael Coughlan, an environmental anthropologist at the University of Oregon who studies wildfires and fire management, told ABC News. "And one of the comments that one of them had was that, 'Oh, well, you know, this has never happened before so it's not gonna happen again.' And I thought that was an interesting comment."
He continued, "I do think there's really a connection between the experience that people have and their preparedness, and their sort of acceptance of this being an issue."
Reducing wildfire fuels
In the western United States, teams start preparing for wildfire season by removing small trees and shrubs that may fuel fire, Dr. Maureen Kennedy, an assistant professor at University of Washington Tacoma who studies wildfire issues, told ABC News.
They also thin trees from the canopy to reduce the density of the trees, as well as make more room between trees.
Although forests are different on each coast -- Western being drier with more softwood trees and Eastern being wetter with more hardwood trees -- Kennedy said the principle can be adapted to the local ecosystem.
"For example, in the southeastern U.S., in Florida, they have a really strong maintained prescribed fire regime where folks are doing those kinds of controlled burns to keep the fuels under control," she said. "And so, I think there is some space for that kind of fuel reduction activity of prescribed fire."
Coughlan said the concept of forest restoration, which makes forests more resilient, including to wildfires, could be implemented in the east.
"They're not entirely transferable but the concept is similar," he said. "The overall concept of forest restoration and building resilience towards wildfire is something that can be done, it is being done in some places, probably not to the extent as it is being implemented in the West, currently but we're seeing that that could change soon, the need for that restoration could be changing."
Making communities more prepared for wildfire smoke
Because the East Coast could be seeing similar conditions as Canada goes through its wildfire season, homes and communities could start being more prepared.
Coughlan said in West Coast states, and particularly California, local communities have begun implementing their own response programs to smoke.
"Those things include things like setting up clean air shelters for people to go to, but they also expand towards distributing HEPA air filters that you can put in your homes," Coughlan said.
"And also just things like helping weatherize people's houses to sort of seal off smoke, you can actually close your windows and doors, and keep a clean air space in your in your house for a good amount of time during these events, and then also setting up sort of networks of air quality sensors," he added.
Coughlan said the experience of the Northeast could be a catalyzing event, where people start to pay more attention to how wildfires can have wide-ranging effects.
Paying attention to red flag alerts
While weather service stations and state government bodies have sent out alerts about air quality issues and smoke forecast, Kennedy said it's also important to pay attention to what could be coming.
Because wildfires are more common in the West -- be it from lighting, human activity or something -- it is common to have red flag warnings about the increased risk of fire danger.
Several states were under red flag warnings Tuesday due to dry and hot conditions, according to the National Weather Service, but Kennedy said they might not be very well known on the East Coast.
"In the western U.S., we've become really familiar with what we call red flag conditions, which are weather service alerts, that are indicating that we have really low humidity and strong winds, which means a small spark can actually erupt into a massive conflagration," she said. "And so really paying attention to those kinds of alerts, and then just being aware of controlling any activity you have that might actually cause a fire and ignition."
(SIOUX FALLS, S.D.) -- Officials from the Transportation Security Administration in South Dakota stopped a passenger with a loaded handgun from getting onto a plane in the fourth such incident at the Sioux Falls Airport this year.
During the routine screening of carry-on luggage this past Tuesday, a TSA officer at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport spotted a silhouette of a handgun on the X-ray screen, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement detailing the event on Tuesday.
Airport officials immediately alerted the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office who responded to the airport’s security screening area and discovered that the firearm was loaded.
This is not the first time this has happened at Sioux Falls Regional Airport. In fact, it is the fourth time this year that it has happened. A total of nine firearms were confiscated by authorities at the same airport in 2022.
“As summer travel picks up, these incidents present a danger to our dedicated workforce, and the traveling public,” Acting South Dakota TSA Federal Security Director David Durgan said. “We encourage all travelers to know the exact location of their firearm at all times and to pack their luggage starting with a completely empty bag to ensure no prohibited items are accidentally brought to the checkpoint.”
The TSA recently announced that the penalty for bringing weapons to an airport has increased with the fine being as high as $14,950 for a single infraction of the law, depending on the circumstances in each case, the TSA said.
“TSA will continue to revoke TSA PreCheck eligibility for at least five years for passengers caught with a firearm in their possession,” officials said. “Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter.”
The TSA reminded people after the incident that firearm possession laws vary by state and that travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.
Details on how to properly travel with a firearm are posted on the TSA’s website and officials said that travelers should also contact the airline they are flying with to see if there are any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
(NEW YORK) -- Authorities are looking for two people after they allegedly approached and harassed a bison calf at a national park in Wyoming.
The incident occurred in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming at approximately 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 4, when two individuals were seen “approaching and touching a bison calf at the southern end of Elk Ranch Flats in Grand Teton National Park,” read a statement from the National Park Service describing the encounter.
Park rangers are now asking the public for help with their investigation and anyone with any information on the alleged individuals involved with the bison encounter is asked to contact park authorities immediately.
“Interference by people can cause wildlife to reject their offspring,” the National Park Service said. “In this case, fortunately, the calf was successfully reunited with its herd, but often these interactions result in euthanizing the animal. Approaching wildlife can drastically affect their well-being and survival.”
“Summer is a great time to see wildlife in Grand Teton National Park among wildflowers, sagebrush flats, and meandering creeks. It’s important to view wildlife safely, responsibly and ethically,” authorities continued. “Treat all wildlife with caution and respect as they are wild, unpredictable and can be dangerous. The safety of visitors and wildlife depends on everyone playing a critical role in being a steward for wildlife by giving them the space they need to thrive -- their lives depend on it.”
The National Park Service took the opportunity to remind people to always be alert for wildlife and to keep a safe distance.
“Always maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from other wildlife. Use binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto lens for a good view. Never position yourself between a female and offspring—mothers are very protective. Let wildlife thrive undisturbed. If your actions cause an animal to change their behavior, you are too close,” park officials said.
It is also illegal to feed any wildlife in national parks.
“Wildlife will depend on people for food, resulting in poor nutrition and aggressive behavior,” the National Park Service said. “If fed, any animal may become unhealthy, bite you, expose you to rabies, or need to be killed.”
Anybody with information on the individuals involved with this case should contact the park Tip Line 307-739-3367. Additionally, if you happen to see any harassment of wildlife happening in the park, authorities say you should immediately contact the park’s dispatch center at 307-739-3301 to report the incident.
(WAKEFIELD, Mass.) -- An 18-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly trying to raise money for ISIS through a gift card scheme on the dark web.
Mateo Ventura, from Wakefield, Massachusetts, was arrested for “knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources that he intended to go to a foreign terrorist organization, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS),” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts released on Thursday.
Ventura allegedly provided multiple gift cards to an individual that he believed was an ISIS supporter with the intention that those gift cards subsequently be sold on the dark web for slightly less than their face value. The proceeds and resulting profits from those sales would then be used to support ISIS, authorities said.
“Ventura allegedly stated that he wanted the proceeds to go to ISIS “for war on kuffar,” (disbelievers),” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts said in their statement announcing the charges against Ventura. “In total, it is alleged that between January and May 2023, Ventura donated $705 intended to support ISIS.”
If convicted, the punishment for knowingly concealing the source of material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000, authorities said.
Ventura appeared in federal court before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy on Thursday. It is unclear when Ventura will next appear in court.
“Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts said. “The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
(NEW YORK) -- Hazy and dangerous fumes from ongoing wildfires in Canada have engulfed the skies over much of the East Coast, prompting serious air quality alerts in over a dozen states.
Canadian officials said firefighters are scrambling to put out the blazes. So far this wildfire season, Canada has seen more than 8.7 million acres burned -- an area larger than the state of Vermont.
Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Jun 08, 3:36 PM EDT
The large plume of hazardous wildfire smoke that moved through New York City on Wednesday drifted into the Mid-Atlantic Thursday, bringing dangerous air conditions to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
By Thursday night, the thickest smoke will continue to spread over the Mid-Atlantic. AQI values may reach 400 in some areas. (Levels under 100 are generally considered safe.)
By Friday morning, the hazardous haze will be covering Pittsburgh and the Chesapeake Bay.
The smoke may thin out during the day on Friday with cities like New York City seeing clearer conditions by Friday evening.
Major relief will move in by Monday when a cold front sweeps across the East, washing away much of the smoke in the air.
Jun 08, 2:06 PM EDT
NYC extends Air Quality Health Advisory until Friday night
New York City's Air Quality Health Advisory has been extended to Friday night.
While the AQI in New York City has been dropping significantly throughout the day, as of Thursday afternoon it registered at 178, which is still considered unhealthy.
Totals were over 400 in New York City on Wednesday. Levels under 100 are generally considered safe.
Jun 08, 12:59 PM EDT
NYC schools will be remote on Friday
Learning will be remote on Friday for New York City public schools.
Jun 08, 12:47 PM EDT
What you need to know about the dangers of inhaling wildfire smoke
Air quality is measured by the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality index (AQI), which ranges from 0 to 500. A higher level indicates a greater level of pollution and health concern.
Levels under 100 are generally considered safe.
Totals were over 400 in New York City on Wednesday.
Jun 08, 12:23 PM EDT
White House postpones Pride event
The White House has postponed the Pride celebration set to take place on the South Lawn on Thursday due to the unhealthy air quality.
The largest-ever White House Pride celebration will now take place on Saturday afternoon.
-ABC News' Justin Gomez
Jun 08, 11:34 AM EDT
Nationals game in DC postponed
Thursday's MLB game in Washington, D.C., between the Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks has been postponed due to the air quality.
The makeup game will be held on June 22.
Jun 08, 11:11 AM EDT
National Zoo closes as dangerous air hits DC
The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is closed on Thursday as dangerous smoke moves through the capital.
"Today's air quality is extremely unhealthy," the Department of Energy & Environment warned. "Everyone should stay indoors as much as possible, especially sensitive groups such as children, elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions like asthma and bronchitis."
Jun 08, 9:00 AM EDT
LaGuardia, Philadelphia-bound flights paused from Northeast, Ohio, Mid-Atlantic
Flights from the Northeast, Ohio and the Mid-Atlantic bound for the Philadelphia International Airport and New York City's LaGuardia Airport have been paused due to the smoke, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday morning.
The FAA cautioned, "We will likely need to take steps to manage the flow of traffic safely into New York City, DC, Philadelphia and Charlotte."
Jun 08, 8:34 AM EDT
Waves of smoke will continue to move south Thursday from New York City to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
By Friday morning the AQI levels will drop for New York City. Smaller smoke plumes will linger from Detroit to Pittsburgh to D.C.
By Saturday and Sunday, the winds will begin to switch and blow smoke away from the U.S.
Jun 08, 6:56 AM EDT
Some NY, NJ school districts modify schedules
Some school districts in New Jersey and New York announced closures or updated schedules for Thursday amid the heavy smoke in the area.
In New York, school has been cancelled in the Freeport, Long Beach and Yonkers districts, according to ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.
In New Jersey, school has been cancelled in the Newark, Elizabeth, Union and Orange districts, WABC reported.
Officials at Elizabeth Public Schools said they'd attempted to continue a normal schedule by holding indoor recess on Wednesday.
"As the day advanced and the air quality worsened, we consulted with both health officials who updated their recommendation to close school buildings tomorrow, Thursday, June 8," Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer said in a letter to parents.
Jun 08, 5:57 AM EDT
A million N95 masks to be made available Thursday in New York
One million N95 masks will be made available for people at state sites in New York on Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday.
Officials will distribute 400,000 masks at MTA stations, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, state parks and the Javits Center, Hochul said. About 600,000 masks will be available from the state’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, the governor said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday visited New York City Housing Authority residents to deliver masks, according to his office, which released photos and a short video on Twitter.
Jun 07, 10:56 PM EDT
Biden speaks to Trudeau about wildfires: White House
President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Wednesday about the wildfires in Canada, the White House said.
Biden offered additional assistance and also discussed the health impact of the fires, according to the White House.
"To date, the United States has deployed more than 600 U.S. firefighters and support personnel, and other firefighting assets to respond to the fires," the White House said in a statement.
Trudeau also tweeted that "hundreds" of American firefighters have arrived in Canada, "and more are on the way."
Jun 07, 9:27 PM EDT Hamilton and other Broadway shows canceled over health concerns
A number of shows on Broadway were canceled over health concerns of the actors, in the wake of the wildfire smoke blanketing NYC.
Shakespeare in the Park, which is performed outside, was canceled, as well as Hamilton and Camelot.
Jun 07, 8:14 PM EDT
New York City's 'smoke wave' response time for warnings criticized
As New York City was bombarded with dangerous air and smoke that turned the skyline orange, some residents and environmental experts questioned if the city's leader acted quickly enough to warn people about the dangers of the "smoke wave."
The city's Office of Emergency Management issued warnings on its social media pages and city alert system starting Tuesday afternoon and Mayor Eric Adams put out a news release about the dangerous air quality around 11:30 p.m.
Some environmentalists said the late notice was unacceptable given that the city's environment was already showing poor visibility and unhealthy air earlier in the morning.
Click here to learn more.
-ABC News' Ivan Pereira
Jun 07, 7:21 PM EDT
When to expect air quality to improve in the US amid Canadian wildfires
The wind conditions that are bringing plumes of smoke south are expected to last for several more days, experts say, as some fires in Canada continue to burn out of control.
The smoke is primarily from several wildfires burning in Quebec that is being blown south in a narrow band by an intense storm system around Nova Scotia that has not moved in several days, according to Mark Wysocki, an air pollution meteorologist who teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
-ABC News' Meredith Deliso
Jun 07, 7:01 PM EDT
What to know about the Air Quality Index from wildfire smoke and how it affects human health
Wildfire smoke contains fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, which are microscopic solid or liquid droplets -- often 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair -- that can be inhaled and cause serious health problems, according to the EPA.
PM2.5 is considered unhealthy for "Code Orange" and sensitive groups once the Air Quality Index surpasses 100, according to AirNow, a website that publishes air quality data. Once the AQI surpasses 150, it is considered "Code Red," unhealthy for some members of the general public who may experience health effects, with sensitive groups experiencing more severe effects.
-ABC News' Julia Jacobo
Jun 07, 6:44 PM EDT
NYC air quality deteriorates to new record level: Mayor
New York City Mayor Eric Adams updated residents on the current situation with the dangerous air quality due to the Canadian wildfires.
He said the city's Air Quality Index, or AQI, hit 484, the highest level on record, on Wednesday afternoon. Anything above 300 is considered hazardous, according to Zachary Iscol, the commissioner for the city's Office of Emergency Management.
"Tomorrow things may improve but an AQI over 150 is still considered dangerous," he told reporters.
Adams said all outdoor events in the city were canceled Thursday and urged private groups to do the same.
A person wears a face mask as smoke from Canadian wildfires blankets New York, June 7, 2023.
"The best thing is that [people] remain indoors," the mayor said.
He reiterated advisories to close windows and to wear a mask if anyone has to travel outside.
Schools were already planned to be closed Thursday, and no decision has been made about the rest of the week, according to the mayor.
Adams said the current forecast shows the situation should improve at the end of the week but warned that the situation can change.
"It is difficult to predict the movement of the smoke," he said.
Jun 07, 6:31 PM EDT
New York to distribute 1 million N95 masks Thursday, governor says
One million N95 masks will be made available for people at state sites in New York on Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday.
Officials will distribute 400,000 masks at MTA stations, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, state parks and the Javits Center, Hochul said.
Approximately 600,000 masks will be available from NYS Div. of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, the governor said.
Hochul has urged New Yorkers to stay inside due to smoke from the Canadian wildfires.
Jun 07, 4:35 PM EDT
MLB games postponed in NYC, Philadelphia
The MLB has postponed Wednesday night's games between the White Sox and the Yankees, set to take place in New York City, and between the Tigers and Phillies, set for Philadelphia.
The Phillies-Tigers game was moved to Thursday and the Yankees and White Sox will play a doubleheader on Thursday.
The WNBA said Wednesday night's game between the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty, which was to take place in New York City, has been postponed due to the air quality.
Jun 07, 4:13 PM EDT
More smoke is expected in the Northeast for the next few days.
The thickest smoke will drift south Wednesday afternoon and is forecast to envelop Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Wednesday night and Thursday. These cities may see AQI levels reach the most severe “hazardous” level over the next 24 hours.
On Thursday afternoon, another round of smoke is expected to move over Lake Superior and into Cleveland, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.
-ABC News' Dan Amarante
Jun 07, 3:55 PM EDT
Why the poor air quality could cause a host of symptoms -- even in healthy people
Exposure to concentrated amounts of fine particulate matter can cause both short-term effects such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing, sneezing; and shortness of breath, and long-term effects such as worsening asthma and heart disease, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fine particles are able to enter the body through the eyes and lungs. Not everyone feels the same symptoms, and the pollution can exacerbate existing health issues, such as asthma and allergies, Peter DeCarlo, associate professor of environmental health and engineering, told ABC News.
Click here to learn more.
-ABC News' Julia Jacobo
Jun 07, 2:55 PM EDT
New York City tops list of world's worst air quality rankings
New York City is topping the list of the world's worst air quality rankings by a landslide, according to IQ Air, which monitors air quality worldwide.
New York City reached 392 on the AQI Wednesday afternoon, which is in the worst category -- hazardous -- on the U.S. government’s air quality tracker. Wednesday shattered New York City's record for the highest AQI since records began in 1999.
Dubai and Delhi came in at No. 2 and No. 3 in the world with 168 and 164, respectively.
Jun 07, 3:34 PM EDT
New Jersey closes state offices early
New Jersey's state offices closed early Wednesday as the air conditions worsened, Gov. Phil Murphy announced.
The governor has urged residents to limit their time outside.
Jun 07, 2:11 PM EDT
NY issues another Air Quality Health Advisory for Thursday
New York state officials have issued another Air Quality Health Advisory for Thursday for the entire state with the exception of the Adirondacks.
Jun 07, 1:47 PM EDT
How to stay safe from wildfire smoke
The most effective way to protect yourself during wildfire emergencies is to stay indoors or limit time outdoors when there is smoke in the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially important for those with heart or lung conditions who are at higher risk for adverse health effects.
If you can, try to avoid exercising outdoors until the air quality improves, especially those with underlying lung disease.
"People with asthma and people who already have lung disease or underlying lung problems, it can exacerbate that, it can irritate that. And if the air quality is bad enough, it can even cause some symptoms of feeling unwell and respiratory symptoms in people who are healthy," said Dr. Stephanie Widmer, a member of ABC News' Medical Unit.
Pregnant people should also try to avoid spending time outdoors, especially those who are further along, Widmer said.
You should wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, fits tightly to your face and can filter out smoke or ash particles before you breathe them in, according to the CDC. N95 or P100 masks can help protect your lungs from smoke or ash.
-ABC News' Nadine El-Bawab and Youri Benadjaoud
Jun 07, 1:06 PM EDT
FAA slows NYC air traffic due to low visibility
Due to low visibility, the Federal Aviation Administration has slowed flight traffic in and out of New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport and New York City's LaGuardia Airport.
A ground stop is in effect at LaGuardia, meaning some flights are being held at their origin airport to ease congestion.
The average delay at Newark is about 84 minutes.
-ABC News' Sam Sweeney
Jun 07, 11:32 AM EDT
Worst air quality yet may be headed to NYC
The worst air in the U.S. Wednesday morning is in upstate New York from Syracuse to Binghamton, where the air quality has reached the worst level -- "hazardous."
That air will move toward New York City and Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Tuesday brought the worst air quality to New York City since the 1960s, officials said, with New York City Mayor Eric Adams calling it an "unprecedented event."
The mayor urged New Yorkers to avoid going outside if they can.
Adams warned Wednesday, "Air quality conditions are anticipated to temporarily improve later tonight through tomorrow morning, but they are expected to deteriorate further tomorrow afternoon and evening."
-ABC News' Max Golembo
Jun 07, 10:19 AM EDT
Poor air quality will last into weekend for Toronto
In Toronto, the poor air quality will last into the weekend, officials warned Wednesday.
"Air quality and visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour," officials said in a "Special Air Quality Statement." "Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke."
Jun 07, 9:32 AM EDT
NYC, DC public schools cancel all outdoor activities
Washington, D.C., public schools have canceled all outdoor activities, including athletic games, for Wednesday due to the poor air quality.
A "Code RED Air Quality Alert" has been issued for the nation's capital.
New York City public schools also canceled outdoor activities.
"We urge everyone to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors," NYC Public Schools tweeted.
Jun 07, 8:22 AM EDT
Long Island school district keeping students inside
In Port Washington, New York, on Long Island, the superintendent announced Wednesday that all students will stay inside during physical education and recess.
"This decision is aimed at minimizing exposure to the poor air quality and ensuring a safe learning environment for everyone," the superintendent said.
Jun 07, 6:37 AM EDT
Air quality alerts issued for 13 states
Most of New England and much of the East Coast were under air quality alerts on Wednesday, with smoke from Canadian wildfires expected to reach as far south as South Carolina.
A new dose of very thick smoke was expected to drift into New York City and Philadelphia by Wednesday afternoon, lasting into the evening.
That smoke is then expected to move south into Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.
Conditions around New York City and in the I-95 corridor could improve Thursday evening, but get worse in western New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as the winds shift.
Jun 07, 12:49 AM EDT
NYC mayor says air quality expected to 'deteriorate further' Wednesday
The air quality in New York City worsened Tuesday evening and is expected to "deteriorate further" Wednesday afternoon and evening, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.
"At this point, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for all five boroughs. While conditions are anticipated to temporarily improve later tonight through tomorrow morning, they are expected to deteriorate further tomorrow afternoon and evening," Adams said.
“Currently, we are taking precautions out of an abundance of caution to protect New Yorkers’ health until we are able to get a better sense of future air quality reports," he said.
Adams said students should still go to school on Wednesday, but New York City public schools won't have outdoor activities.
"These recommendations may change based on updated air quality conditions that come in, but, in the meantime, we recommend all New Yorkers to take the precautions they see fit to protect their health," he added.
Jun 06, 10:09 PM EDT
Smoke from wildfires visible over Yankee Stadium
Smoke from wildfires from Canada was visible on Tuesday night over Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, as the Yankees played the White Sox, video obtained by ABC News shows.
Jun 06, 10:01 PM EDT
New York City currently has the worst air quality in the world, data shows
New York City currently has the worst air quality than any other city on Earth, as smoke stemming from wildfires in Canada makes its way across the Northeast, according to the latest data from Swiss technology company IQAir.
The air quality index in NYC is at 196 as of Tuesday evening, followed by Doha, Qatar, and Delhi, India.
The next U.S. city on the list is Detroit, which currently places eighth, according to IQAir. Toronto, Canada, sat in ninth place as of Tuesday night.
Jun 06, 11:00 PM EDT
Who is at most risk from unhealthy air
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has specific guidance for vulnerable groups if the air quality in their area is deemed "unhealthy."
While the agency warns that all people will experience adverse side effects from exposure to the unhealthy air, it said those with heart or lung disease, pregnant people, children and the elderly are most sensitive.
Those groups should consider moving all of their activities indoors until the air quality alert is lifted, the EPA said.
Jun 06, 11:02 PM EDT
Northeast covered in haze as forecasters warn of more smoke to come
Millions of people in New York City and other locations in the Northeast scrambled to keep themselves free of the smoky air throughout the day and evening Tuesday.
The city's skyline was barely visible for most parts of the day, and the smell of the smoke was strong as commuters hit the evening rush.
Large cities with the lowest air quality include New York City; Albany, New York and Cincinnati, a map by Airnow, a website that publishes air quality data, shows.
Another large and dense plume of smoke will be moving down across parts of the Northeast on Wednesday, according to forecasters.
That batch of very dense smoke will push down across the Northeast throughout the day on Wednesday, giving some relief to New England and the Midwest.
(WINONA, Minn.) -- The ex-partner of a Minnesota mother who has been missing since March under suspicious circumstances has been arrested in connection with her disappearance after human remains were found amid the investigation, authorities said.
Madeline Kingsbury, 26, was last seen the morning of March 31 when she and her children's father dropped their two young children off at a day care before returning to her home in Winona, according to Winona Police Chief Tom Williams. The children's father, Adam Fravel, told police he left the house in Kingsbury's van around 10 a.m., but when he returned later that day, Kingsbury was not there, Williams said.
Amid the search for Kingsbury, a Fillmore County deputy found human remains Wednesday afternoon in brush off Highway 43, north of Mabel, Minnesota, "and was located using information generated during the Madeline Kingsbury investigation," the Winona Police Department said in a social media post Wednesday night.
"Because of this, law enforcement personnel have arrested Adam Fravel on probable cause in connection to her disappearance," the department said.
Authorities are "working as quickly as possible to positively identify the remains," it added.
The Winona Police Department has scheduled a press briefing at 1 p.m. local time Thursday to discuss the case.
Early in the investigation, Williams said police believed Kingsburgy's disappearance was "suspicious" and "involuntary," and that they were concerned for her safety.
There was no indication Kingsbury left home on foot or in another vehicle, and her cellphone, wallet and ID were found in the house, according to Williams.
The day she went missing, Kingsbury did not show up for work and did not respond to "numerous" calls and messages from friends and family and failed to pick up her children from day care that afternoon, which is "extremely out of character for her," police said.
Her disappearance has prompted thousands of volunteers to help in the search.
In the weeks after she was reported missing, Fravel denied having anything to do with her disappearance.
"Over the course of the last 12 days, my family and I have been subject to a myriad of accusations regarding the disappearance of the mother of my children," Fravel said in a statement released by his attorney on April 14.
He said he has been cooperating with authorities and that investigators advised him not to attend press conferences or searches "due to safety concerns."
Kingsbury's family is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.
"Please help us find Madeline," her sister, Megan Kingsbury, said during emotional comments at a press conference in April. "Her children need their mother. We need our daughter, our sister, our aunt and our best friend back."
Her sister described Kingsbury as a "hard-working and dedicated mother" who works for the Mayo Clinic and is a graduate student.
ABC News' Will McDuffie contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) -- It’s been a year since one family’s dream trip quickly turned into a nightmare, when a woman was killed and two children were injured while parasailing on vacation. Now, the woman's husband is speaking out for the first time with the hope of warning other families to stay safe ahead of summer vacation.
“She kept everything together and she's always having a smile on her face,” Srinivasrao Alaparthi told Good Morning America of his late wife in an exclusive interview.
On May 30, 2022, Alaparthi’s wife, Supraja Alaparthi, 33, was killed and their young son and nephew were severely injured after the three went parasailing while vacationing in the Florida Keys. During the ride, the weather quickly deteriorated, “pegging” the parasail in a strong wind where it is controlled by the wind and not the speed of the boat, according to a Monroe County Sheriff's Office incident report that was previously reported by ABC News.
Alaparthi claimed that the boat's crew could not reel in the parasail because of the weather and alleged that the captain decided to cut the towline with the three passengers still on the parasail. The passengers then dropped to the water and were dragged by the inflated parasail across the water until they collided into a bridge.
“Whatever he was doing, it was concerning for all of us. I didn't exactly see when he cut the rope,” said Alaparthi. “[It was a] terrifying and horrible moment.”
"Sri is holding the captain's leg, begging him to please go out there and save them. And he goes ahead and tells 'em, 'Don't worry, the bridge will help,'' Ricky Patel, an attorney for Alaparthi and his family, told GMA.
The boat’s captain, Daniel Couch, was charged with manslaughter and multiple boating violations last September. He has pleaded not guilty.
Alaparthi's family has since filed a lawsuit against Couch, Couch's colleague, the boat company and the marina. The suit alleges the company and marina did not check weather reports, which should have prevented them from sailing. It also claims they failed to provide enough safety equipment, including life jackets on board, and didn’t properly bring the parasail down after losing control.
“There were so many opportunities for them to stop this from happening but yet, there's failure, after failure, after failure,” said Pedro Echarte, another attorney for Alaparthi and his family.
Echarte said it’s important to not rely on websites alone to book vacation activities and to be sure to know their policies, procedures, and safety equipment.
“Don't rely upon the signage. Don't rely upon the websites. Ask questions. 'What are your policies? What are your procedures? What type of safety equipment you have?' If it doesn't smell right, if it doesn't seem right, don't go,” said Echarte.
ABC News reached out to the boat company, the marina, and Couch, but has not received comment at this time.
A year later, Alaparthi said that his only wish is that an incident like this never happens to another family and that the lawsuit can help bring about change within the parasailing industry as a whole.
“Having fun is not worth the cost of life. There should be enough safety measures,” he said. “Otherwise, they will end up in a miserable situation.”
ABC News’ Meredith Deliso and Will Gretsky contributed to this story.
(NEW YORK) -- Pat Robertson, the Christian evangelist best known for his political commentary on The 700 Club and a former presidential candidate, has died. He was 93 years old.
Robertson died early Thursday at his home in Virginia, according to the TV network he founded, The Christian Broadcasting Network.
"With great sadness, we announce that Dr. M.G. 'Pat' Robertson has gone home to be with his Lord and Savior today," CBN said in a statement. "Thank you for your prayers for the Robertson family and the ministry of CBN at this time."
He was born in Virginia in 1930 to Sen. A. Willis Robertson, and became an ordained minister as a Southern Baptist. Robertson's birth name was Marion Gordon Robertson, but he was given the nickname "Pat" by his older brother, Willis Robertson Jr.
Robertson started The Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960 and grew to become incredibly influential in Christian conservative circles.
He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1988, vying to take over for President Ronald Reagan. The nomination, and eventually presidency, was won by George H.W. Bush.
Robertson provided political commentary, from his Christian viewpoint, weekly on The 700 Club. He appeared on the show for 60 years, finally retiring at 91 years old and handing the reins over to his son, Gordon.
He was also a decorated military veteran, serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.
"He shattered the stain glass window," Bishop T.D. Jakes said in a statement from the Christian Broadcasting Network. "People of faith were taken seriously beyond the church house and into the White House."
In addition to his TV network, he also started Regent University, previously CBN University, a private Christian university, in 1977 in Virginia Beach.
Robertson was married to his wife Dede for 68 years before her death in 2022. They have four children.
(NEW YORK) -- Smoke from Canadian wildfires is causing hazy skies and unhealthy conditions across a large swath of the eastern United States in what officials have called an unprecedented event.
Those outdoors in New York City on Wednesday couldn't help but take notice of the strong campfire smell and eerily orange skies.
"It's kind of scary out here, like the apocalypse is about to happen. And it's hard to breathe," Michelle Karwejna told ABC New York station WABC-TV. "It feels like I'm at a campfire that I don't want to be at and there's no s'mores."
Plumes of smoke from ongoing wildfires in Canada have prompted serious air quality alerts in at least 16 states. Hazy skies, low visibility and poor air quality will be present in most of the Northeast and the Midwest and even as far south as the Carolinas.
New York City is experiencing the worst air quality since the 1960s due to the wildfires, officials said. The Air Quality Index hit 484 on a scale of 500 Wednesday evening; anything above 300 is considered hazardous.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams called it an "unprecedented event" during a press briefing on Wednesday while urging New Yorkers to avoid going outside if they can.
"Very, very scary. Just walking down the street and feeling like I'm going to have an asthma attack. That's how bad the air quality is," Jordan McKenzie, a Brooklyn resident who has asthma, told WABC Wednesday.
In Baltimore, Tea Williams, who also has asthma, put on a mask due to the smoky conditions in the city.
"When I walked outside this morning, you could tell it was foggy and it smelled like something was burning, it smelled like a fire," Williams told Baltimore ABC affiliate WMAR-TV on Wednesday.
Francisco River, who was undeterred by the conditions and was out rollerblading, told WMAR "it smelled like a tire was burning."
The smoky conditions are expected to impact the region through the end of the week, experts said.
The smell of smoke caught some off guard before they learned the cause.
"I woke up this morning and went outside, and it was very strange," Molly Hickey told Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV on Tuesday. "I actually checked the weather to see if it was about to rain, and then it smelled like our neighbors might be having a campfire and just sort of an eerie feeling."
In Buffalo, New York, Megan Luongo told Buffalo ABC affiliate WKBW-TV that when she went for a walk on her lunch break on Tuesday, she "smelled the fire."
"I wasn't sure what it was totally, but now I know," she told the station.
"I'd definitely be concerned that it's been here for days now and it's not going away," Luongo told WKBW.
The conditions in Scranton, Pennsylvania, were "brutal" on Wednesday, prompting garbage and recycling pickup to be put on hold, Scott Pietreface, the director of the city's Department of Public Works, told Scranton ABC affiliate WNEP-TV.
"This is the first time we've seen this," he told the station.
Nikki Sanders said she wore a mask as she walked home from work in Scranton on Wednesday.
"The smoke is strong, and I didn't want to breathe too much of it in," Sanders told WNEP. "I wanted to try and protect myself as much as I can."
(NEW YORK) -- The family of a Florida mother of four called for justice after her alleged killer -- a neighbor she was feuding with -- was arrested, asking the state attorney to deliver an effective prosecution.
“Do not fail AJ,” said Pamela Dias, the mother of Ajike Owens, 35, during a press conference with attorney Ben Crump. “I don't know how long this is going to take, but we can’t grow tired. We cannot be weary.”
Owens, who is Black, was shot and killed on June 2 in Ocala, Florida on the doorstep of the home of Susan Lorincz, who is white, after Owens went to the suspect's residence to question her about an alleged dispute with Owens' children, according to police reports.
Lorincz was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, if convicted, the sheriff's office said in a statement. She was also charged with culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.
“[The state attorney], he has a job to do and that is to zealously prosecute the killer of AJ Owens,” Crump said in front of a roaring crowd at the news conference. “Just like he would do if the roles had been reversed and you had a Black woman shoot a white woman through a locked, metal door and kill her in front of her children.”
The Marion County state attorney's office said in a statement to ABC News they had to limit public comments because the criminal case is still pending, but were able to briefly respond to Crump's request.
"Now that an arrest has been made, our office will diligently pursue the prosecution of the defendant, Susan Lorincz," the state attorney's office said in a statement to ABC News. "Our sole focus will be to bring justice to Ajike Owens, her family and her loved ones."
In a statement, the Marion County sheriff’s office explained they conducted interviews with witnesses, Owens’ children and Lorincz. Authorities say the suspect told police that she shot Owens in self-defense, but through their investigation, the sheriff’s office determined Lorincz’s actions were not justified under Florida law.
“Ms. Lorincz’s fate is now in the hands of the judicial system, which I trust will deliver justice in due course,” Marion County sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. “As I go to bed tonight, I will be saying a prayer for Ms. Owens’ children and the rest of her family. I’d ask all of you to do the same.”
Woods said there was an ongoing feud between Owens and the suspect. The day of the shooting, the children were playing in a field on the property in which the suspect's home is located. At that point, the suspect allegedly engaged in an argument with the children, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
Lorincz allegedly threw a pair of skates at Owens’ 9-year-old son and hit the child in the toe, according to MCSO. Afterwards, the minor and his 12-year-old brother went to Lorincz’s home to speak to her. Lorincz swung an umbrella at them, according to a statement from MCSO.
The children notified Owens, resulting in Owens going to the suspect's home and demanding that she come out. That’s when Lorincz shot Owens through her closed door, striking her in the upper chest, according to MCSO. Owen’s 9-year-old son was beside her, according to MCSO.
“Our 12-year-old blames himself for the death of his mother because he couldn't save her,” Dias said at the press conference. “He couldn’t give her CPR. His words, ‘Grandma, grandma, I couldn’t save her! I tried to give her CPR! I tried to give her CPR!’”
According to police records, when officers arrived on the scene, they found Owens under a nearby tree with a gunshot wound. She had a faint pulse as the officers applied medical aid. Owens was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased at 9:33 P.M on June 2.
Lorincz did not immediately return ABC News’ request for an interview or statement. In a separate press conference on Monday, Woods said that Florida Stand Your Ground laws made it harder to execute an immediate arrest. The sheriff’s major crimes unit was finally able to arrest Lorincz on Tuesday after gathering enough evidence, according to MCSO.
“I pray that God gives me the strength, the wisdom and the ability to raise these children as our daughter would have us to do,” Dias said. “[They] witnessed their mother murdered in cold blood.”
(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- Over half of Buffalo, New York's water service lines are estimated to contain lead, but city officials say the work to replace them could last over the next two decades and cost nearly half a billion dollars to complete.
Nearly 40,000 water service lines in Buffalo, over half of the more than 68,000 total water service lines in the city, are projected to contain lead, the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, said in a report released last year.
Oluwole "OJ" McFoy, the chairman of the Buffalo Water Board, tells ABC News only 1,700 lines have been replaced so far. McFoy estimates the project could last over the next 20 years and could cost $400 to 500 million.
Buffalo officials last year announced a $10 million federal investment, part of the American Rescue plan, to contribute to accelerating lead pipe replacements and water infrastructure issues in Buffalo.
McFoy told ABC News he believes with that funding they can expect to replace roughly 1,000 more service lines.
The city is also planning to request additional grant funding through the state of New York for an estimated $10 million. McFoy says he "will continue to push forward" with seeking grants to help cover the massive infrastructure project.
"People really look at it from a time standpoint; but we look at it from a public health standpoint, and it starts actually at the treatment facility," McFoy said.
Following the massacre at the Tops supermarket in Buffalo’s east side on May 14, 2022, at least $1.1 billion in state and federal funds have been designated towards the east side for improvements.
This includes at least $50 million in New York state funding to fight food insecurity and support small businesses, job training programs and assist first-time homeowners and east side homeowners facing foreclosure.
McFoy said the service lines are only part of the problem. The issue also extends inside the properties affected.
While water lines to homes in Buffalo could be either public or private lines, each property owner is responsible for the lines on their property, McFoy explained.
However, McFoy says depending on the amount of lead detected in water pipes, the city may replace some customers' service lines free of charge.
McFoy said it's important to make sure property owners are aware of the need to test their lines.
"One of the things that we continue to promote is sampling. We want to make sure we get you in the sampling protocol, so that we know exactly what the levels are," he said.
He added, "We've established a level that is well below the EPA for action. Our action limit is at 5 parts per 1 billion. So in 5 parts per 1 billion, we're replacing lead to service lines free of charge to those community members."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead in the human body. In children, low levels of exposure were linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells, the CDC says.
Housing nonprofit Heart of the City Neighborhoods says it is working alongside other local teams to locate the impacted lines. Blue Conduit, an analytics company using data science and machine learning to find and help to remove lead pipes from the nation's water infrastructure systems, including in cities like Flint, Michigan, has also been involved in the ongoing work in Buffalo, company representatives said.
According to some engineering experts like Marc Edwards, a professor of engineering at Virginia Tech who helped reveal the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, industrial cities with homes constructed before the 1980s are often at higher risks for lead paint and lead service lines -- in part because lead pipes were legal up until the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended that decade.
"It really wasn't until the 1980s when folks started requiring the water companies to treat the water in a way to minimize the contaminated water through a process," he said.
Buffalo has the oldest housing stock in the country, according to the 2019 US Census. Nearly 64% of Buffalo homes were built in 1940, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.
Stephanie Simeon, a Buffalo resident and the executive director of Heart of the City Neighborhoods, believes that money should be invested into fixing the health and employment issues affecting thousands of Buffalo residents.
"There's been a plethora of resources, the real story is how have those resources come to the hands and stayed local," Simeon said.
McFoy said city officials have been meeting with public unions and other “internal vendors” to ensure they’re setting up programs for workforce development amid the reinvestment project.
"A city like Buffalo that has over a 30% poverty rate, we find it very difficult to get things done," McFoy explained. "That's why we're championing programs to ensure we can get funding from the outside coming into the communities like Buffalo."
(NEW YORK) -- As New York City was bombarded with dangerous air and smoke conditions that turned the skyline orange, some residents and environmental experts questioned if the city's leader acted quickly enough to warn people about the dangers of the "smoke wave."
The city's Office of Emergency Management issued warnings on its social media pages and city alert system starting Tuesday afternoon and Mayor Eric Adams put out a news release about the dangerous air quality around 11:30 p.m.
Some environmentalists said that the late notice was unacceptable given that the city's environment was already showing poor visibility and unhealthy air earlier in the morning.
"There is supposed to be emergency planning for situations like this," Rebecca Bratspies, the director of CUNY Law School's Center for Urban Environmental Justice Reform, told ABC News. "I was expecting the city to read the same news forecasts I had that this was happening Monday and Tuesday. They should have had a plan."
Adams defended his administration's approach to alerting New Yorkers about the dangers of the situation during a news conference with reporters Wednesday morning. He contended that there were no late notifications as the city's agencies, such as the health department and OEM, were going through the rapidly changing information.
"The clouds you see over New York City was a fire thousands of miles away. This is the challenge…and there are going to be more issues like this, and there's no blueprint or playbook for these types of issues," he said.
"We've done tabletops in this administration. You want to be as prepared as possible, but there is no planning for an incident like this," Adams added.
Bratspies, who is a board member of the city's Environmental Justice Advisory Board, countered the mayor's claim noting that the city has delivered air quality alerts in the past and has access to the latest forecast models.
"Air masses don't appear all of a sudden. They move slowly and you can predict how bad it will be long before it hits," she said.
Holly Porter-Morgan, a professor of environmental science at LaGuardia Community College, told ABC News that she too thought the city didn't do a good job informing the public as soon as there was an indication that the Air Quality Index reached dangerous levels.
Every minute that New Yorkers were exposed to that toxic air, particularly the elderly, immunocompromised and children, does more harm, she said.
"Whenever our air quality index goes above 100 there should be some sort of statement going out," Porter-Morgan said. "There should be some directive for people, because people don't know what to do."
Porter-Morgan said that even though wildfire smoke is new to the northeast, Adams and other leaders in the area can take a look at the environmental policies in West Coast states for guidance.
Alistair Hayden, an assistant professor of practice at the Department of Public and ecosystem health at Cornell University, told ABC News that while local, state and federal governments must enact policies to prepare and protect the public from "smoke waves," there is still a lot of work to be done to properly make those alerts.
"One thing I have heard from local governments is they don't know where to get the best air quality data. There are not excellent tools to zoom down and know what exactly is going on in your community," he said. "The research is just getting to those points now where we can use those tools, but it's still not where we need it to be."
Hayden, who worked in California's Office of Emergency Services, acknowledged informing and alerting the public to environmental disasters or emergencies is complicated, as data changes constantly.
"Warning is always a tricky business because across disasters we've seen if you alert too early and it changes people lose trust in the alerts," he said.
But in the meantime, Hayden said those governments can start to implement plans for these smoke waves and use the playbook for other similar situations.
For example, he said cities could use the cooling center plans, and designate certain buildings where vulnerable people can stay for clean air during the day.
Ultimately, Hayden said that public officials across the country need to take heed of what's going on in the east coast and start coming up with policies to prevent people from getting hurt by the negative effects of climate change.
"People don't realize how many people die in a smoke wave. This is a really important piece that we need to include in our policy at all levels," he said. "I think we need to respond to 'smoke waves' with the same type of urgency of other disasters."