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Monday Motivation

Hermine impacting Delaware Beaches

The threat of Hermine seemed to be dwindling, and Monday the only real threats are strong winds, rip tides and the possibility of flooding.

Swimming was not allowed Sunday and it is not clear if people will be allowed in the water Monday. The waves are big even early in the morning and most beach-goers said they are not going to risk it.

Low-lying areas like neighborhoods are still under a flood watch until late Monday morning, although it’s likely only minor flooding.

The weather will only get better which is good news for businesses on the boardwalk who rely on tourism to survive.

Despite the colder temperatures and strong winds, dozens of people came out to walk the boardwalk and then the beach before sunrise.

Monday Motivation

Dozens of strangers help save man

A freak accident Monday night in the District, a massive tree falling, seemingly randomly on a car, crushing the driver.  The person was seriously hurt, but not killed, and it could all be thanks to the heroic efforts of some good Samaritans.

In the heart of late afternoon rush hour on Rock Creek Parkway, where people are making their way home in cars or on bikes, something happened to make dozens of them stop.

“I was just riding home and all of a sudden I came up on this car that had been crushed by a tree,” says Michael Durr.” Durr was one of the good Samaritans who jumped off his bike when he saw the massive tree crushing the car. “I hope there’s not anyone left in the car,” Durr says he remembers thinking. But there was someone inside. A Maryland man was trapped under the trunk of the tree. Emergency crews weren’t there yet, but a quick-thinking Park Police Officer was. “The police officer said, ‘hey, let’s just get the tree off the car,'” remembers Durr. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘this tree is too big for people to move it.”

It was too big for just one person to move, but Durr wasn’t alone, he had the man power of about 20 or 30 strangers, determined to save a man’s life. “Everyone just ran over to the tree and lifted it and someone pushed the car out and we dropped the tree,” he says.

“The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds. Once it went up they moved the thing out and said OK, we’re going to drop it,” says Durr.

The group of people sacrificed a few seconds of their day, and that no doubt saved valuable time and potentially that man’s life. Soon after the tree was moved rescue crews arrived took the man to the hospital. He’s now listed in stable condition.

“I think anybody would have done exactly the same thing,” says Durr. “There was no sacrifice, it was just let’s lift this off.”

The victim’s name has not yet been released.

Park Police investigators are looking into what lead to the tree falling.

Arlington County Police testing body cameras

Some body cameras will become standard issue for police officers in Arlington, Virginia. The details of the body program still need to be worked out, but Iot a first-hand look at one of the cameras today.

With just a double tap, the camera starts recording both audio and video. “To turn it on is really simple,” says an Arlington County Police officer who is testing out the cameras. On day one of the program, he’s already used the camera 4 times.

“We turn it on every time we get dispatched to a call, anytime we are on a traffic stop,” says the officer, who did not want to be identified. “With a couple of exceptions, pretty much any time we interact with anyone while we are on duty.” He’s one of 25 officers who will be testing out the body cameras during the pilot program, which lasts until mid-December.

Ashley Savage with the Arlington County Police Department says officers will be required to turn the camera on during a call for service, and leave it on. “They cannot turn it off during any of the contact, they need to record the whole thing,” says Savage.

Once turned on, the camera will automatically record for 30 seconds prior. In the state of Virginia, officers don’t have to tell you you’re being recorded. Most people say that’s a non-issue for them, what is concerning, is how these cameras will be regulated. “I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” says Arlington County resident, Pat Carty. “I can’t see any bad side to it, as long as they don’t turn them off.”

Terry Adams is a criminal defense attorney in Arlington, and he knows body cameras could have a big impact on his clients. But Terry has an especially unique perspective on the issue, he spent 18 years as a sheriff’s deputy in Arlington County.  “If the officers are required to activate their own cameras it could get dicey because if they are in a hurry and it’s an emergency situation, you will miss a lot of what happened before,” says Terry. “And what happened before is the most important.”

Arlington County Police say they have the same concerns, and that’s what this pilot program is for, to determine what works and what doesn’t.

it will be a good test for the first priority call that goes out, your blood starts pumping, do you remember to double tap? We’ll find out,” says the Arlington County Police Officer.

At the end of their shift, officers will upload the video to a cloud-based service. Now how long that video will be saved will depend on how serious the recorded offense is. For example, a serious offense that is not resolved must be saved for 100 years, per the Library of Virginia. Saving that much data will mean a big expense for the department. Three different models of body cameras will be tested over the next few months, then a determination will be made based on which service works best and is most cost-effective.

National Dog Day

Today is a day to celebrate dogs – on National Dog Day. And dog owners everywhere are giving their four-legged friends extra treats and belly rubs today. About 66 dogs rescued from Louisiana now have a big reason to celebrate: They’re in the caring hands of Last Chance Animal Rescue in Waldorf.

We spent National Dog Day with the adorable dogs looking for their forever homes, meeting Eva, Ava, Dalton, Dakota, Zandra, Rory, Clayton, May, Kara and a couple dozen more. 66 dogs in all taken by the Last Chance Animal Rescue from Louisiana. Some are in fosters and will soon be ready to be adopted. But in the meantime, they’re getting all the extra love and attention they can handle – on a day that’s dedicated just to them. “We are celebrating just like we do every day,” says Cindy Sharpley, the Executive Director of LCAR. “We love them and feed them and take care of them and walk them and find them new homes.”

At LCAR, however, every day is National Dog Day. “You know what, we celebrate every day. We really do, it sounds corny but it’s true,” says Sharpley.

National Dog Day was started in 2004 as a way to celebrate dogs and bring attention to dogs and puppies all over the country that need homes.

If you’re interested in adopting or fostering dogs, contact the Last Chance Animal Rescue or call (240) 412-5751. Additional information is also available on their Facebook page:

Some of the dogs are available for adoption right away, and will be at the Alexandria PetSmart on Friday.

By the way – here are just some of the dogs looking for their forever homes! 


Silver Spring Blast: Residents moving on

The Red Cross disaster team is still on site at the Long Branch Community Center. Families have been stopping by to get help, but there’s so much that needs to be done.

It’s hard to really understand what the victims from the Flower Branch Apartments explosion are going through. Sarah Garcia is one of the residents who lost everything and for her, there are more questions than answers. She doesn’t know where she is going to live next.

There are about 90 people or so displaced, after an explosion and then fire tore through their homes, destroying almost everything. Sarah Garcia is staying at the Long Branch Community Center with her family for now. She’s thankful they are all safe, but her world was shattered.

“I feel so sad. Everything is gone, our apartment is gone, we didn’t find anything. We cant go in, everything is burned,” she says.

But life moves on, and Sarah has no choice but to keep going. She had to go to work on Thursday, the same day she lost everything, and she’s on her way back to work now.

“Now I’m going to Walmart to buy some pants and t-shirts,” says Sarah. “And then I’ll go to take a shower with some friends and go to work, but I don’t have any clothes to change (into). We don’t have anything 57 nothing at all.”

The Red Cross knows Sarah isn’t the only one here who has to work. “For many of these people, it’s a job that I only get paid for if I show up,” says Paul Carden with the American Red Cross. “I don’t get a sick day, I don’t get a vacation day so for many of them they’ve got to go to work.”

When they come home from work, they’ll have a place to go. The Red Cross will keep the Long Branch Community Center shelter open as long as it’s needed. Financial Aid, food, water, clothing, counselors and even nurses will stay on site to help. Some still need medical attention, like Trina Benitez who was hurt in the explosion. “It’s very difficult for my babies and my husband,” says Trina.

They’ll be given all the basic necessities, but the one thing they need the most, is not easy to come by: hope.

On Friday, non-profits in Montgomery County along with government officials and the Red Cross held a meeting to determine how best to help the victims. People still searching for loved ones can stop by the Long Branch Community Center to help and file a report.

Members of the community have also continued to stop by to drop off donations. Paul Carden with the American Red Cross says they are extremely thankful for the outpouring of support, but right now, cash is king. “We have more than we can physically house. Meeting rooms, conference rooms and garages are full. We don’t need any more product right now, we need the financial support.”

The best way to donate is through the Red Cross or any Montgomery County organizations that are offering assistance. “We need to be able to give them the financial support so they can sit down with the families and say you need help with rent, great, I’ve got money to do that,” says Carden.

2 dead, 90 displaced from Silver Spring Apartment explosion

Residents of the Flower Branch Apartments are still in shock after the massive explosion rocked the community Thursday morning in Silver Spring. Many are displaced and seeking help from the Red Cross at the Long Branch Community Center.

Video taken from Flower Branch apartments resident Marlon Lopez shows flames shooting out of the building after the explosion. “I was in my room when I heard the explosions, I got scared,” says Lopez. He and his neighbors ran outside. “People were knocking on doors saying, ‘get out, get out!”

Lopez’ family and his neighbors are all safe, but he still can’t go home. So for the foreseeable future, the Long Branch Community Center is where he’ll stay, along with about 70 others.

Olegareo Diaz’ brother is among those displaced. He says his brother lived in the apartments, and he was relieved and thankful to find his brother safe at the community center. “He’s so afraid about everything,” says Diaz.

Dozens and dozens of people showed up at the center in the middle of the night. Some with no shoes, in their pajamas, or just in a towel. The Red Cross Disaster team is here to help them all, offering food, water, clothing, a place to sleep and most of all, comfort. Some apartments, and everything inside, are destroyed.

“One of the buildings is basically blown in half, contents of apartments are in the streets, envelopes, socks, clothing,” says Paul Carden with the Regional Disaster Director for the Red Cross. “Many of them are in shock.”

Before the sun was up, people started showing up to help, including neighbors Alejandro and his 10-year-old niece, Madelyn Fuentes. “It’s really cold in there so they needed some clothes,” she says. “I brought them clothes. They didn’t bring any money or any telephones either. I had $2.00 so I spent it and bought them juice and chips.”

“I saw the big hole in the building and my first thought was there are people who are going to need stuff. They will need food and kids will need toys,” says Rita Mortellaro, who brought items to donate to the community center as well. Rita’s 11-year-old daughter also helped. “I just thought they would need help since their houses are destroyed and the kids might be scared so they might want something to play with,” says Kasia Malloy-Mortellaro.

Items can be dropped off at the Long Branch Community Center or donations can be made to the Red Cross.

Monday motivation 

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