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iStock/Thinkstock(FLINT, Mich.) --  For Jacob Uhrek and his five children, every sip of water, every boiled pot of noodles, every drop of water to brush his teeth comes from the same source as it has for the more than two years: bottled water.

"We bathe with filtered water," Uhrek, who lives in Flint, Michigan, told ABC News. "We still don’t drink or cook," non-bottled water.

Flint has been in the headlines for months now after elevated lead levels were found in the municipal water system last year: President Obama visited the city earlier this month and drank the water to show that the water is safe to drink as long as residents use filters; celebrities held a fundraising concert on Oscar night; and three state officials are facing criminal charges over the water crisis.

Elevated lead levels were found in the Flint water supply after the city disconnected from Detroit's water supply and began drawing its water from the Flint River in April 2014. It was intended as a stop-gap measure until the completion of a pipeline to Port Huron Lake as the source for Flint's municipal water.

 But it was later discovered that lead from the old pipes had begun to leach into the water due to improper treatment of the water from the Flint River. And even though the supply was switched back to the Detroit water supply in October, the anti-corrosive chemicals that were used to stop the leaching have not yet been able to bring down the lead levels in unfiltered water, according to state officials.

Lead is a known neurotoxin and is particularly harmful to young children whose neurological systems are still developing. Early lead exposure can have a lifetime of consequences, including lowered IQ, behavioral issues and developmental delays among others, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 For residents dealing with the crisis day to day, life hasn't returned to normal. Uhrek said his family uses filtered water to bathe but for drinking and cooking, they're still using bottled water. Fortunately, none of his five children have tested positive for high lead levels, he said.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services advised that residents could drink filtered water as long as they were over the age of 6 and not pregnant.

Uhrek said he's frustrated with what he feels has been a slow government response to the crisis, he also said he's been impressed by how local community members have come together, citing a nearby church that has kept up water donations after a local water supply station closed.

"The community is pulling together. We’re seeing actual change but it’s in the people," Uhrek said. "We’re going to make it through."

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, has been studying the lead levels in children in the community for years and helped draw attention to the crisis by publishing a paper finding children in Flint had significantly higher lead levels than their counterparts in surrounding areas after the water source was changed. Hanna-Attisha has been advocating for and talking about Flint for more than a year, but said the community still lacks long-term support.

"This is unlike any other disaster," Hanna-Attisha told ABC News. "The impact of [this] disaster will last for decades and maybe generations. We have yet to garner the long-term [financial] help."

One major difficulty will be trying to determine just how many children were exposed to elevated lead levels and who is most at risk, she said. Children are normally not tested for lead levels until they're a year old, however, a fetus can be exposed in utero or an infant during their first few months of life if their parents used tap water to give them formula.

Congress has yet to pass funding to help alleviate the water crisis in Flint or to help children who were exposed to high levels of lead. In the Senate, a bipartisan bill has been proposed that includes more than $200 million in federal funding to help children and others affected by the Flint water crisis, but currently there is no vote scheduled on the bill.

Hanna-Attisha said she's been frustrated to see funds that could help Flint languish in Congress.

"It’s not a political issue, this is a humanitarian issue," she said, noting that this "great American city" has had contaminated water for three years now.

Hanna-Attisha along with others at the Hurley Medical Center are working with Michigan State University and the Genesee County Health Department as part of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative started in January. The initiative has three goals -- to continue research on lead exposure in children in the area, to monitor these exposed children and get them assistance if they show developmental delays, and provide the tools and resources to monitor and help the children.

"I will keep talking and keep advocating. The story is not over," Hanna-Attisha said.

The city has hired 10 additional school nurses and the state has passed a Medicaid waiver that will add an additional 15,000 kids to Medicaid so they can get better treatment, she noted. Food and healthy eating has also become a focal point for health officials in the region, since an unhealthy diet low in iron means people can absorb more lead into their bones. There is also temporary funding for a new "nutrition prescription" program in which kids can redeem $10 vouchers for healthy foods at a nearby farmer's market, Hanna-Attisha said.

"There’s a lot more coordination of resources and programs," she said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has outlined a plan to address the long-term damage that children exposed to lead could face, including new screening measures to help identify potential behavioral problems, expanding a free breakfast program, offering professional support and case management when children under 6 are found to have high lead levels, and addung more child and adolescent health centers in the county.

State and local health officials have now been joined by officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a state of emergency in the county has been extended into the summer.

Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told ABC News that researchers are seeing progress in water quality. Recent water quality tests conducted by the CDC have shown filtered water may even be safe for pregnant women and young children, but Wells cautioned they're still awaiting final results and have yet to issue a new advisory.

"Even if there are high levels of lead, the filters seem to work," Wells said.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a campaign to get residents to flush out particles that may be lingering in the water system, Wells said.

The city faced another setback when a legionella outbreak was discovered in the area that sickened more than 90 people in 2014 and 2015. About half were linked to an area hospital, but health officials were also investigating whether the outbreak could have been related to the corroded pipes that leeched lead. Wells said this year the city is under enhanced surveillance for legionella so that officials can act quickly and identify the source of the outbreak. The last known case occurred in October 2015, but the disease is more common in summer months.

Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech and founder of the Flint Water Study, said he was more hopeful after seeing federal and state agencies working to fix the effects of the water crisis.

"I think that all parties at the table right now are really working at their best to get Flint back on its feet," Edwards said. "Since January, people have been trying their very best to help with the situation."

However, Edwards said after talking to residents, he thinks it will take a long time before they trust their government.

"For many in Flint, they will never drink water or take a bath or shower [in tap water] ever again," Edwards said. "The betrayal and loss of trust is so profound and it can never be restored."

He and his team are still in the area testing water and working with health officials to monitor the situation. Edwards said he's become concerned that some people have become so afraid of the water they have stopped bathing or washing their hands and that could lead to further health consequences.

"If people are fearful of bathing and washing hands, people will get hurt," he said.

For Jacob Uhrek, he said he's annoyed that he is again getting a water bill that had been temporarily suspended earlier this year and he's looking into getting a filter that will treat all the water in the house. This summer he plans on keeping his children away from pools.

"We got lot of freshwater and lakes," in Michigan, he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) --  A 4-year-old boy escaped with serious -- albeit non-life-threatening -- injuries Saturday after he crawled through a barrier at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and into a gorilla enclosure, where he was picked up by a 400-pound, 17-year-old male gorilla, the zoo said.

After the boy -- who has not been identified -- crawled through a public barrier at Gorilla World around 4 p.m., he fell about 10 to 12 feet into a moat, where he was picked up and carried around by the gorilla, named Harambe, for about 10 minutes, the zoo's director, Thane Maynard, said.

A Cincinnati Zoo employee shot the gorilla when the child was in between his legs, and zoo employees then unlocked the gate and two fire fighters quickly retrieved the child.

Once the child was in a safe area, he was given a full trauma assessment, and then transported to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Monahan said.

The hospital is not releasing details on his condition, but police said the boy's injuries were non-life-threatening, according to ABC affiliate WCPO.

Once it had became apparent that the toddler was in the enclosure, two female gorillas in the exhibit were recalled immediately, but the male gorilla remained in the yard with the child, the zoo said in a statement.

There were already fire department personnel at the zoo because of a sick person, and they responded immediately to the pen, District Fire Chief Marc Monahan said. When they got to the gorilla pen they saw the gorilla who violently dragging and throwing the child, he said.

"They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life," Maynard said. "It could have been very bad."

Maynard said the gorilla didn't appear to be attacking the child, but he said it was "an extremely strong" animal in an agitated situation. He said tranquilizing the gorilla wouldn't have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.  

Maynard called it "a sad day" at the zoo, but credited the zoo team with saving the young boy's life. "The zoo security teams quick response saved the child's life," he said in a statement. "We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”

Harambe came to Cincinnati in 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. On Friday, the zoo posted on it Facebook page that Harambe had turned 17.

 The zoo has also posted videos of Harambe adjusting to life at the facility.

The zoo will be open on Sunday, but Gorilla World will be closed until further notice.

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ABC News(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Tropical Storm Bonnie was swirling off the coast of South Carolina Saturday night, disturbing Sunday plans for beachgoers.

According to the National Hurricane Center, 40 mile-per-hour winds and heavy rains from the second named storm of the season were hitting South Carolina and southern North Carolina's coast Saturday night.

The official start of hurricane season does not begin for another four days, but Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist for NHC, said the tropical storm was not expected to intensify.

"The storm's right now moving over the Gulf Stream and that's what's sort of giving it a boost of energy today but it's about to move out of those warmer waters and into the cooler waters that are right off shore off the southeast coast so we're not expecting too much more intensification," he told ABC News on Saturday night.

Bonnie will move ashore and likely make a landfall somewhere between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday morning. Wind gusts up to 40 mph are possible along the coast with 1 to 3 inches of rainfall. Locally higher amounts of rain could fall and produce some flash flooding.

A concern for beachgoers throughout the holiday weekend will be dangerous rip currents all along the Southeastern coast of the U.S.

"There's at least some risk of rip currents all the way from portions of central and north Florida up through the Carolinas," Brennan told ABC News.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WICHITA, Kan.) -- Authorities in Kansas resumed the search for the body of an 11-year-old boy who was swept away by a fast-moving creek in Wichita on Friday night, hours after flash flooding moved through the area.

The boy, whose name has not been released, fell into an unnamed creek that feeds into the Arkansas River at about 7:30 p.m.

Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief John Turner told ABC News that Friday's storm may have doubled the depth of the creek to approximately 10 feet.

Officials spent three hours searching four miles of the creek Friday night but weren't able to find the boy, Turner said.

"We were hoping he was holding onto a limb or tree or something on the bank," Turner said.

The search is continuing Saturday, but is now in recovery mode as officials look for his body.

"At this point our law enforcement has searched all the areas he could be known to be, and nothing has turned up, so we're focusing efforts on the creek," Turner said.

"It's difficult for us," he said. "You can imagine how it is on the family. That's our main focus now, is finding some closure for the family as quickly as we possibly can."

Turner said water speed can be "very deceiving, especially during flash floods." The creek was likely moving between five and eight miles per hour, which is fast enough to "knock a person down," he said.

Turner said that on Saturday "the water is continuing to slow down and rescind, which makes the efforts a little bit easier."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Investigators were expected on Saturday to lift the wreckage from the World War II-era single-seat fighter plane that crashed in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey Friday evening, killing the pilot.

The Coast Guard said the Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to conduct salvage operations of the aircraft today.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, the Coast Guard added.

The plane, which took off from an airport on Long Island, went into the water around 7:30 p.m., about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge. A distress signal was issued.

The pilot, identified by police as 56-year-old William Gordon of Key West, Florida, died from the crash. His body was subsequently recovered by divers, police said.

 The FAA said that the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft was one of three that had departed from Republic Airport on Long Island. The two other aircraft returned to the airport safely, the FAA said.

The plane had been based at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York, on Long Island, for the past 16 years and was scheduled to participate in the Jones Beach Air Show on Saturday.

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WABC(NEW YORK) -- A 33-year-old New Jersey police officer was almost pinned under a giant tree as he responded to a call of a large branch blocking a road Friday morning.

As Officer Douglas Faber of the Ringwood Police Department tried to remove the enormous branch from the road at around 6:45 a.m., another part of the tree came crashing down, nearly pinning him under it, said Ringwood Police Chief Joseph Walker.

Dashcam video shows Faber running as soon as he hears sounds of the tree cracking, but its top branches strike his legs on the way down, causing him to fall to the ground. A fellow officer is seen coming to his aid.

In the video, it appears as if Faber escaped unscathed, but he sustained a head wound requiring 13 stitches and fractured his wrist, Walker said. He was treated at a local hospital.

Faber has been a Ringwood police officer for seven years, the department told ABC News.

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Courtesy of Pearl Pinson's family(NEW YORK) --  Authorities in California are "very concerned" a missing 15-year-old girl may be hurt after she was allegedly abducted by an older acquaintance this week, and are searching for her in Sonoma County.

While the suspected abductor has since been killed in a shootout with police, the teen remains missing and the subject of an Amber Alert.

The Solano County Sheriff's Office said this afternoon it was working with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office to search an area near the town of Jenner in connection with the abduction of 15-year-old Pearl Pinson.

Pinson was abducted in Vallejo, a city near San Francisco, on Wednesday, allegedly by 19-year-old Fernando Castro, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said. She may have been walking to the school bus stop at the time, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Castro and Pinson were believed to be acquaintances but authorities don't believe she went with Castro willingly, the sheriff's office said.

Some blood was found at the scene, Deputy Christine Castillo of the Solano County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.

"We are very concerned she may be injured," Castillo told ABC News Friday.

The investigation took a turn Thursday when authorities spotted Castro driving without Pinson in Santa Barbara County, which is about 300 miles south of Vallejo. Castro allegedly engaged police in a shootout, fled into a mobile home and stole a truck, before engaging police in another shootout that left him dead, the sheriff's office said.

"Detectives are currently going through tips and leads that have come in overnight and are working to refocus our search efforts for today," Castillo said in a statement.

Deputies were on alert Thursday in Marin County -- near where Pinson was kidnapped -- after Castro's car was seen on surveillance there before the shootout further down the coast.

"This case spans from northern to southern California," Castillo's statement said. "Our main focus continues to be finding Pearl and reuniting her with her family."

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NYPD(NEW YORK) -- A World War II-era single-seat fighter plane crashed in the Hudson River Friday evening, and a body believed to the pilot was recovered by divers, police officials said.

The NYPD said the plane, which took off from an airport in Suffolk County, went into the water around 7:30 p.m. A distress signal was issued.

The NYPD said that it has located the plane, which was secured to a harbor launch. New Jersey State Police initially said that the pilot suffered minor injuries and was en route to the hospital, but the agency said later it could not confirm that.

According to police, the body recovered was the pilot, identified as William Gordon, 56, of Key West, Florida.

He was removed from the water and declared deceased by the EMS, the NYPD said.

The investigation is ongoing.

The exact circumstances of the crash, about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge, were not clear.

The FAA said that the World War II-era P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft was one of three that had departed from Republic Airport on Long Island. The two other aircraft returned to the airport safely, the FAA said.

The plane had based at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale, New York, on Long Island, for the past 16 years and was scheduled to participate in the Jones Beach Air Show on Saturday.

On Friday, the aircraft flew twice before the crash.

“It certainly has a solid performance history,” American Airpower Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said of the plane. He added that the craft showed "no sign whatsoever, or any suggestion of a problem" and if it had, it wouldn't have been allowed to make a third flight.

The P-47 was the heaviest single-engine fighter in WWII, according to the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island.

"Despite its size, the P-47 proved to be one of the best performing fighters to see combat," the Cradle of Aviation Museum's website said. "Produced in greater numbers than any other U.S. made fighter, the story of how it came to exist is at least as interesting as its many accomplishments."

"The mighty Thunderbolt broke the back of the Luftwaffe and pounded the Wehrmacht without mercy," the museum added.

Lewi said that some 9,000 of the plane were built on Long Island during WWII, but that there were very few that were left.

“It’s a legend," he said. "There are not that many left flying in the world.”

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Courtesy of Steinle Family(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The family of Kate Steinle, the woman who was allegedly shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant on a San Francisco pier last summer, has filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies and a San Francisco sheriff for not preventing her death.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, seeks to hold the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the City and County of San Francisco and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for providing "the means and opportunity for a repeat drug felon to secure a gun and kill" the 31-year-old, the complaint reads.

The alleged shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, is also named in the lawsuit.

The case ignited a firestorm at the time because of the suspect's immigration history and San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city -- notifying ICE about suspected undocumented immigrants only in the case of violent crimes.

"Kate's death was both foreseeable and preventable had the law enforcement agencies, officials and/or officers involved simply followed the laws...which they swore to uphold," the complaint said.

Steinle's parents, James and Elizabeth Steinle, are seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death and deprivation of federal civil rights.

"The Steinle Family hopes that their actions today will serve to highlight the lax enforcement of gun safety regulations among the law enforcement agencies involved and bureaucratic confusion so that this will not happen to others," said Frank Pitre of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, the law firm representing the Steinle family, on Friday.

The gun used to kill Steinle was stolen from an unsecured car, according to the complaint. The gun was government property and belonged to a Bureau of Land Management enforcement ranger, who was on "official government travel" at the time of the theft, June 27, the agency said at the time.

Steinle was killed on July 1 while walking with her father on Pier 14 of San Francisco's picturesque Embarcadero waterfront when Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant and career drug felon, allegedly shot her with a .40 caliber government-issued firearm, according to the complaint. She had a "thriving career" in medical sales when she died, the complaint stated.

On March 26 of that year, Sanchez finished serving a 46-month sentence at a Los Angeles federal prison and was released to SFSD custody, the complaint said. Led by Mirkarimi at the time, the SFSD did not honor an immigration detainer for Sanchez from ICE, saying it had no "legal basis" to hold him because they did not have an active warrant for him.

That same month, ICE had issued a memo creating an official policy to eliminate all communication regarding undocumented immigrants in "direct contravention" with federal and state law, according to the complaint. Despite this memo, ICE specifically asked the SFSD to be notified of Sanchez's release.

Sanchez was released the next month, and no notification was provided to ICE, according to the complaint.

Gonzalez, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

ICE told ABC News it was unable to comment on the lawsuit due to pending litigation. The Bureau of Land Management did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

ABC News could not immediately reach Mirkarimi for comment.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CONROE, Texas) -- A group banded together to rescue a trapped woman from fast-moving floodwaters in Conroe, Texas, in a dramatic moment caught on camera.

The woman was trapped in a van Thursday off of Interstate 45 in Conroe -- about 40 miles north of Houston -- when the group of rescuers, struggling to stay standing in the rushing waters, extended a ladder towards her.

As the rescuers held up the ladder, they also held onto each other so no one would be washed away.

The ladder successfully reached the woman, who crawled out of the van and was then carried to safety.

The Texas flooding has proved to be damaging and deadly. At least one person died from the flooding in Brenham, a city located about halfway between Austin and Houston.

And the threat is not over -- flash flood warnings are in effect this afternoon in Texas counties including Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and San Jacinto.

The severe weather also extended beyond southeastern Texas, with much of the Plains and the South suffering from flash flooding.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- U.S. meteorologists are predicting more tropical activity this year compared to recent years but expect the summer hurricane season to be near-normal levels.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is a 70 percent likelihood that there will be 10 to 16 named storms this season (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher). In a "normal" year, there are 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two to three major hurricanes, NOAA said.

This is one of the toughest hurricane season outlooks ever made due to the abundance of atmospheric variables, said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The most influential variable would be the AMO (Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation). This pattern is characterized by cooling and warming of water temperatures in the Atlantic and intensity of the monsoon season over West Africa. If the Atlantic water temperature is warmer than normal and the monsoon season in West Africa is active, this pattern tends to produce more tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin. If the reverse happens, it tends to yield toward below-normal hurricane season. These patterns can last over 20 years.

Another important variable this upcoming hurricane season is the fading El Nino and forming La Nina. El Nino tends to suppress tropical activity in the Atlantic and La Nina does the opposite. This year, there is a 70 percent chance that La Nina will form by the end of this summer and early fall. Coincidentally, August, September and October happen to be the average peak of hurricane season, with 90 percent to 95 percent of tropical storms forming during this period.

Finally, even if a tropical system forms in the Atlantic Basin, small scale atmospheric conditions and patterns have to be just right for it to make landfall in the United States. Last time a major hurricane (winds 111 mph, Category 3 or higher) made landfall in the United States was in 2005. During 2003, 2004, and 2005 seasons, there was a persistent area of high pressure over the Southeastern U.S. pushing any formed storms in the western Atlantic toward the US's East and Gulf Coasts. But in the recent years, we had a persistent area of low pressure pushing storms away from the U.S. These small scale, short term patterns can be only forecasted a couple of weeks in advance, making the entire hurricane season forecast that much more difficult.

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Hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1, but we are already tracking a tropical system that could affect parts of the Eastern U.S. It is likely to become the named storm “Bonnie” over the next 24 hours, if not sooner. Even though this system is forming before the official start to the Atlantic Hurricane season, it does not mean that this has never happened before or that is unusual. NOAA officials are warning anyone that lives or is traveling to Georgia or the Carolinas this Memorial Day weekend to monitor the forecast for updates.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection(NOGALES, Ariz.) -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have arrested an Arizona woman who they say attempted to smuggle a pound of methamphetamine inside burritos through a Nogales, Arizona, entry port.

 

#CBP officers at the #PortOfNogales hungry for a drug seizure, bag a pound of meth burritos https://t.co/obocGBj83K pic.twitter.com/Nq4wPhqaB6

— CBPArizona (@CBPArizona) May 24, 2016

 

The woman, 23, was crossing from Mexico into the U.S. She was referred for further inspection after crossing through the Morley Pedestrian Gate, the agency said this week.

A narcotics-detection canine led officers to slightly more than a pound of meth, disguised as a bag of burritos.

The tortilla wrapped drugs were reportedly worth upwards of $3,000.

Officers seized the drugs and turned the suspect over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BRENHAM, Texas) — At least one person is dead in Southeast Texas after heavy rains and extreme flooding barreled through the area, officials said.

The death was reported in Brenham, located about half-way between Austin and Houston. Two people are also missing there, the Brenham Fire Department said.

Brenham recorded its wettest day ever Thursday with 16.6 inches of rain.

Brenham schools are closed Friday and fire officials said several homes suffered damage.

Thirty-six water rescues were reported Thursday in Washington County, Texas, which encompasses the city of Brenham.

Hog Branch #brenham #flood #txwx pic.twitter.com/AJJgdOWubQ

— Josh Reddoch (@JoshReddoch) May 27, 2016

At least two people were reported missing in Travis County after getting trapped in a car in high waters, according to Angel Flores, spokesman for the Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. And at least 12 people in Travis County were rescued from high waters, Flores said.

The severe weather extended beyond southeastern Texas with much of the Plains and the South suffering from flash flooding.

Scary moment for the Patrol Sergeant through the heavy storms last night! Please be careful! pic.twitter.com/8QLh09GsXb

— Everman Police Dept (@EvermanPolice) May 27, 2016

Flooding in Magnolia/Greenfield Forest Estates #abc13eyewitness pic.twitter.com/UMbCnpAPL9

— Janet Coe (@jcoe84) May 27, 2016

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iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) — Federal authorities arrested a Virginia woman on Thursday for a unique handbag-related scheme that targeted several major department stores and involved brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Fendi.

The scheme was so prolific that at one point she was a major department store’s top online customer in the entire world, an agent from Homeland Security Investigations says in court documents.

For years, Praepitcha Smatsorabudh would allegedly buy high-end handbags — many costing more than $2,000 apiece — from department stores online. She would then allegedly return the bags and receive refunds in-person at stores across the country. But what she really was returning were fake handbags that she ordered from suppliers in China and Hong Kong, according to federal authorities.

Smatsorabudh would then sell the authentic, high-end handbags to unwitting customers online, usually through eBay or an Instagram account, federal authorities say.

In a September 2014 email to one fake handbag supplier, she allegedly wrote: "The best fake bag I’ve ever seen! Can you send me more ... from this factory. They make bag IMPaCABLE!!!!" [sic]

She allegedly traveled to at least 12 different states to return fake bags at various locations of one department store in particular, though authorities would not identify the store.

Over the past two years, she allegedly received more than a million dollars in refunds from the one department store alone – an alleged windfall that doesn’t include the money she then allegedly made from selling the authentic high-end handbags online.

Federal authorities were able to build a case against her with help from the department store’s fraud investigators, the Arlington County Police Department and an undercover Homeland Security Investigations agent, who posed as a customer and purchased an authentic handbag from Smatsorabudh, court documents show.

In March, federal authorities raided her home in Arlington, Virginia, and found 572 handbags, many of them fake, according to court documents.

Smatsorabudh, who is in her early 40s, has been charged with one count of wire fraud. If convicted, she could face 20 years in prison. She will be arraigned next week in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.

She was born in Thailand, but her immigration or citizenship status was not immediately known.

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Mark Bowen/Scripps National Spelling Bee(NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.) — Despite the Scripps National Spelling Bee creating new rules this year to try to crown one champion instead of co-champions, the final two spellers Thursday night went the distance as the Bee ran out of words.

The winners of the 89th annual competition -- held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland -- are Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Corning, New York, and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas.

The winning words were: Feldenkrais and Gesellschaft

Both champions will receive a $40,000 cash prize, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a reference library from Merriam-Webster, $400 worth of Encyclopedia Britannica products, and a trip to New York City, where they will appear on LIVE with Kelly.

There were 284 contestants total.


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Kim Komando, The "Weekend" Roundup, Leo Laporte (The Tech Guy!), Art Bell, The Real Estate Show, Bill Handel, Chef John Folse "Stirin' It Up" , Doug Stephan's Weekend, The Pet Show & When Radio Was!.

New Shows!

Rudy Maxa’s World

Now A Full 2 Hours

Saturday 12 to 2p

 

 

 

Dr. Ronald Hoffman

Intelligent Medicine

Saturday 2 to 4p

 

 

Resources
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