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U.S. officials are vowing to unleash a massive amount of federal aid in response to Hurricane Ian as the death toll rises amid recovery efforts. The monster storm killed at least 68 people, including 61 in Florida. Hundreds of thousands of people and businesses remain without power. Officials warn that flooding could still worsen in parts of Florida because the rain that fell has nowhere to go. The weakened storm is still bringing havoc as it drifts north. The remnants are forming a nor’easter dumping rain on Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Rainfall on the already inundated Chesapeake Bay could lead to significant tidal flooding.

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Dozens of Florida residents have evacuated from their flooded and splintered homes by boat and air as rescuers search for survivors after Hurricane Ian. Stunned residents of South Carolina and North Carolina also began taking stock Saturday of their losses after Ian smashed across their states. The global death toll from the storm, one of the strongest hurricanes by wind speed to ever hit the U.S., grew to more than four dozen, with 47 deaths confirmed in Florida, along with four in North Carolina and three in Cuba. Separately, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Florida on Wednesday.

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Hurricane Ian ravaged coastal towns in southwest Florida. But the impact has not been confined to the beaches and tourist towns. The rains from the storm's deluge are flowing into inland towns not usually part of the hurricane warnings. In the Sarasota suburb of North Port, water levels have gone up significantly, turning roads into canals, reaching mailboxes, flooding SUVs and trucks, blocking the main access to the interstate and leaving families trapped. Now, as days go by, they are starting to run out of food and water. It’s the rising rivers that cause the flooding, and authorities say that flooding now poses a danger to those nearby.

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Top U.S. insurance companies and associations say California is risking a crisis in the nation’s largest automobile insurance market by refusing to approve rate increases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The companies already are cutting back and say they can’t continue operating at a loss while Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara delays rate cases filed by companies representing three-quarters of the California market. It's part of a battle over Lara’s effort to compensate consumers he says were overcharged during the pandemic’s early months when traffic all but disappeared. He's refused to consider applications to boost rates for more than two years.

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A Florida highway had to temporarily close after a semitrailer carrying cases of Coors Light crashed and turned the roadway into a silver sea of beer cans. Florida Highway Patrol says the crash occurred Wednesday morning in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 about 30 miles north of Tampa. Officials say the pileup began when one semi clipped another while changing lanes. This forced other semis to brake, but one failed to stop and collided with a pickup truck and another one of the stopping semis. The semi that failed to stop was filled with cases of the Silver Bullet.

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A federal judge says Rhode Island’s truck tolling system for funding repairs to the state’s crumbling bridges is unconstitutional and must end within 48 hours of the entry of his judgment. U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith wrote in Wednesday's decision tht the tolls discriminate against out-of-state truckers and economic interests and violate a commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. The trucking industry had challenged the tolls in court and one trucking executive hailed the decision as setting a standard that prevents other states from setting up similar tolling systems. Gov. Dan McKee's administration says it is reviewing the decision and considering its next steps.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all new vehicles in the U.S. be equipped with blood alcohol monitoring systems that can stop an intoxicated person from driving.  The recommendation, if enacted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, could reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes, one of the biggest causes of highway deaths in the U.S. The new push to make roads safer was included in a report released Tuesday about a horrific crash last year in which a drunk driver’s SUV collided head-on with a pickup truck near Fresno, California, killing both adult drivers and seven children.

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The number of people killed on U.S. roadways fell slightly from April through June. It's the first decline in two years as pandemic-era reckless driving appeared to ease. But the government says traffic fatalities are still at a crisis level. Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 20,175 people died in crashes from January through June, an increase of 0.5% over the same period last year. The small second-quarter decline was the first drop after seven-straight quarters of increases that started in 2020. The decrease may signal that traffic deaths are finally dropping after an increase fueled by more dangerous driving that happened as roads were clear of traffic during lockdowns early in the pandemic.

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Hurricane Kay is lashing Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula with wind and rain as authorities open shelters and close some roads. Kay had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph) late Wednesday, with forecasters saying it could bring hurricane-force winds to parts of the peninsula beginning Thursday and possibly brush central Baja on Friday. Forecasters say there is a chance the outer bands of the big storm could bring heavy rain — and possibly flash floods — to parts of scorched Southern California and southwestern Arizona on Friday night and Saturday.

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A letter to the editor in the July 12 State Journal contends that traffic cameras would free up cops. I ask: Free up who again? When’s the last time you saw a Madison police officer or Dane County Sheriff's deputy pulling someone over?

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