Greg Allen

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The cost of federal flood insurance is rising for millions of homeowners, threatening to make homes in coastal areas unaffordable for many. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its new rates better reflect flood risk in a warming climate.

There may be few places affected more by the new risk rating system than the Florida Keys, where the average elevation on the chain of islands off Florida's peninsula is just over 3 feet above sea level. Almost all homeowners are required to carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage.

Updated October 12, 2021 at 3:48 PM ET

MIAMI — The city of Miami has suspended and intends to fire its police chief, Art Acevedo.

Bobby Bowden, one of college football's legendary coaches, has died. He was 91. Florida State University announced the news in a tweet saying, "Today we lost a legend but you never lose a legacy. Rest In Peace Coach Bowden."

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For two weeks now, rescue workers in Surfside, Fla., have been removing concrete rubble from a site that used to be a condominium building.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUCKET THUMPING)

Updated July 2, 2021 at 6:01 PM ET

A Miami-Dade Circuit judge has placed the Champlain Towers South condo association into receivership. Judge Michael Hanzman appointed Michael Goldberg to handle all of the condo association's financial matters while the court hears lawsuits related to the building's collapse.

Five lawsuits have been filed so far, and more claims are expected in the coming months.

Updated June 25, 2021 at 10:38 AM ET

At least four people are now confirmed dead and more than 150 others are unaccounted for after a 12-story condo building near Miami partially collapsed early Thursday.

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In Florida, wildlife managers and environmental groups are stunned by a record number of manatee deaths. More than 750 manatees have died since the beginning of the year, the most deaths ever recorded in a five month period. Most of the deaths are in Florida's Indian River Lagoon, where a large die-off of seagrass has left manatees without enough to eat.

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Forecasters say the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, is likely to be busier than usual. After touring the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the new head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Deanne Criswell had a message to the public.

"Last year was a record season," she said. "We don't know what this season is going to be. But it just takes one storm."

The record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is still setting records. The National Hurricane Center this week released its Tropical Cyclone Report for Hurricane Zeta, which hit southeast Louisiana on Oct. 28. After analyzing data gathered as the storm made landfall, NOAA meteorologists have upgraded Zeta from a Category 2 to a "major" Category 3 hurricane.

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The federal government just launched an ambitious effort to try and preserve one of Florida's endangered coral reefs. It aims to restore 3 million square feet after decades of decline. Here's NPR's Greg Allen.

Florida's governor has signed a law that he called the "strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement measure in the country." The law was written in response to protests around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. It provides new protections for police and increases the penalties for people who take part in property damage or violence during protests.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, an outspoken and sometimes controversial figure in Florida and Washington, D.C., has died after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Hastings began his career as a civil rights lawyer. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to a U.S. District Court seat, making him Florida's first African American federal judge.

Scientists have identified a new species of mosquito in Florida. I's called Aedes scapularis. Lawrence Reeves, an entomologist and research scientist with the University of Florida, identified them among mosquitoes he collected near Everglades National Park in 2019.

The Biden administration has announced it's extending temporary protected status to Venezuelans in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled the political and economic turmoil of their home country can now legally remain—and work—here.
NPR's Greg Allen reports the order affects more than 300-thousand Venezuelans, many of whom live in Florida.

It will be a year and a half before the first votes are cast in the 2022 midterms, but volunteers are already staffing phone banks to start organizing Florida's Democratic voters. Ken Telesco is in Seattle, but he's calling Democrats in Florida. When he gets someone on the line, which is rare, he launches into his appeal, "We're a Democratic organization just calling around to make sure you are registered to vote as a Democrat."

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The National Hurricane Center says it will begin issuing Tropical Weather Outlooks in May, weeks before the June 1 beginning of hurricane season. The federal agency is also considering moving up the official start date of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Named systems have formed in the Atlantic prior to the official start of the season in each of the last six years. In 2020, there were two named systems before June 1, tropical storms Arthur and Bertha.

In Florida, Democrats are criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who they claim is allowing politics to play a role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. DeSantis became testy when questioned by reporters at a vaccination event near Lakewood Ranch, an upscale community on Florida's Gulf Coast.

The vaccination event was the latest in a series of state-sponsored clinics at retirement communities. Under DeSantis' "Seniors First" initiative, the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to everyone age 65 and over in Florida — an estimated 4.5 million people.

Elected officials in Florida are reacting strongly against media reports that the White House is considering imposing domestic travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.

"It would be unconstitutional. It would be unwise and it would be unjust," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday at a vaccination site in Port Charlotte, on Florida's Gulf Coast.

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Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe they have identified a new species of whale in the Gulf of Mexico. The Rice's whale is a filter feeder that can grow to 42 feet. It's also critically endangered. There are believed to be fewer than 100 of them left.

It was only in the 1990s that scientists first determined that a small whale population was living in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico year-round. Marine biologists thought they were Bryde's (pronounced "broodus") whales, members of a species that lives in warm waters around the world.

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