Nation in brief: Tornado damage being assessed

SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2008

Stormy weather, natural gas leaks and the threat of explosions kept hundreds of anxious residents from assessing the damage to their homes Friday, a day after a large tornado tore through a 35-mile stretch of northern Colorado, killing one person and injuring dozens.

The twister damaged or destroyed homes, businesses, dairies and farms in several Weld County towns.

The storm system pelted the region with golf ball-size hail, swept vehicles off roads and tipped 15 rail cars off the tracks in Windsor, a farm town about 70 miles north of Denver.

Police and more than 100 National Guard troops cordoned off a particularly hard-hit area of about one square mile Friday so utility crews could check each home for gas leaks, repair gas mains severed by uprooted trees, remove downed power lines and clear streets of shattered glass and debris.

There were 596 homes damaged, with 102 deemed unsafe to occupy, when the tornado bounced along a 35-mile swath that began near Platteville, about 50 miles north of Denver, public information officer Dan Hatlestad said.


Wildlife refuges funding urged

America’s wildlife refuges are so short of money that one-third have no staff, boardwalks and buildings are in disrepair, and drug dealers are using them to grow marijuana and make methamphetamine, a group pushing for more funding says.

“Without adequate funding, we are jeopardizing some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife and wild lands,” said Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and chairman of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement.

The cooperative said in a report released Thursday to Congress that the nation’s 548 refuges and the 100 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System – about the size of California – is underfunded by 43 percent. The refuge system needs at least $765 million a year but is receiving only $434 million, the report says.

A decrease in law enforcement has left the refuges vulnerable to criminal activity, including prostitution, torched cars and illegal immigrant camps along the Potomac River in suburban Washington, D.C.; methamphetamine labs in Nevada; and pot growing operations in Washington state, Hirsche said.


Fire breaks out on aircraft carrier

A fire aboard the USS George Washington aircraft carrier left one sailor with minor burns and 23 others with heat stress.

Sailors extinguished the fire several hours after flames were spotted Thursday near the auxiliary boiler room and air conditioning and refrigeration space in the rear of the nuclear powered ship. The Navy said the fire spread through a passageway for cables.

The Navy said it was investigating the cause of the fire and assessing damage to the ship. The Norfolk, Va.-based ship was in the Pacific headed to San Diego when the fire broke out.


FDA warns mothers not to use cream

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday warned women not to use or purchase Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream, marketed by MOM Enterprises Inc. of San Rafael, Calif.

The cream, promoted to nursing mothers to help soothe dry or cracked nipples, contains ingredients that may cause respiratory distress, vomiting and diarrhea in infants, the agency said. The potentially harmful ingredients in the cream are chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol.

The company has stopped selling the cream. The FDA said consumers should stop using the cream and consult a doctor if they experience problems due to the product.

Mothers whose children may have suffered adverse effects because of this product should contact the FDA’s MedWatch at (800) 332-1088.


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