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A message of fitness from on high
James Mills of Expedition Denali, the first team of black climbers to attempt to reach the summit of Alaska's Mount McKinley.
June 19th, 2013
05:59 PM ET

A message of fitness from on high

By Edgar Treiguts, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – Right now, there's a group of people tackling the highest mountain in North America – Mount McKinley in Alaska, also known as Mount Denali.

Expedition Denali is made-up of nine members, ranging in age from 18-56, coming from varied professional and career backgrounds. A week and a half into their climb, the group is set to hit the summit very soon. One other note about the group – all of its members are African-American. The team is attempting to become the first group of black men and women to stand atop North America's highest mountain – 20,156 feet high

The makeup of the expedition was by design. It was organized by the National Outdoor Leadership School, with an aim to stir young people, in particuar minorities, to see the value of outdoor recreation and preservtion. James Mills is part of the effort, an African-American who's been an avid outdoor athlete most of his life:

           [1:36] "Our goal is to let people of color, especially young people, know that it's cool to spend time outdoors in nature. It's fun to spend time outdoors in nature."

James Mills is also a freelance journalist. The climb is for his effort The Joy Trip Project, and he's documenting it for National Geographic.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

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Filed under: Culture • Health • Nature • Soundwaves • Sports
Where are the Cicadas already?
Have you seen these cicadas? Despite the hype over a cicada invasion this spring, swarms like these aren't always easily seen.
June 5th, 2013
08:38 AM ET

Where are the Cicadas already?

By Steve Kastenbaum and Lisa Desjardins, CNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

New York and Washington, DC (CNN) – Dear East Coasters, this is the deal with that massive 17-year cicada invasion you’ve been expecting.

It’s here.

What, you haven’t seen any? You’re not alone.

“We’re definitely not hearing them yet,” said Bonnie McGuire, deputy director New York City Urban Park Rangers while searching through Inwood Hill Park, a natural forest in Manhattan. “When we do, we’ll definitely know it.”

McGuire didn’t hear or see any cicadas. Neither did most of the people CNN Radio spoke with in Virginia, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. After months of hype over what was billed as a wonder of nature, replete with billions of cicadas, many residents along the Atlantic are shrugging their shoulders. FULL POST

Uncertainty, paperwork greet Oklahoma tornado victims
It will take a long time before insurance adjusters make their way through 12,000 damanged homes in Moore, Oklahoma.
May 27th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Uncertainty, paperwork greet Oklahoma tornado victims

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @nova_safo

Moore, Oklahoma (CNN) - Homeowners in Moore, Oklahoma have begun facing the lengthy insurance claims process following the destruction of their homes by last week's deadly tornado that paved a 17-mile path of destruction.

Twenty-four people lost their lives, including children as young as four months old. More than 300 were injured. The estimates for the total cost of insurance claims range from $2 billion to $5 billion.

President Obama toured the area Sunday and pledged sustained support for the rebuilding effort. “It’s going to take a long time for this community to rebuild, so I want to urge every American to step up,” the president said.

For the thousands of homeowners who have already filed insurance claims, it’s becoming clear just how long "a long time" will be. Many, like Alberto Laija, still have multiple challenges ahead.

Laija’s house looks deceptively intact, at least from the outside. Inside, the ceiling is starting to bow in places – evidence of water seepage from a damaged roof. In some parts of the house, the ceiling has already given way. FULL POST

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Filed under: Nature • Soundwaves • Stories
Shelter for all, a new mantra in Moore
Tasha Hames rode out the Moore tornado in her shelter that's bolted to the ground in her garage.
May 25th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

Shelter for all, a new mantra in Moore

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Nova_Safo

Moore, Oklahoma (CNN) - In the aftermath of the monster tornado in Oklahoma, there’s been a lot of discussion about storm shelters. Tornadoes are common in the area, but few buildings have basements or above-ground shelters.

Students at the elementary school that collapsed could only huddle in a hallway as 200-mile-per-hour winds tore apart their building. Seven children died.

Now there’s an effort to bring shelters to Oklahoma’s schools, especially in Moore.

Mark McBride, who represents Moore in the Oklahoma legislature, has teamed up with other lawmakers to create a fund. The money will go to placing storm shelters inside schools. They’ve already received a $500,000 donation from an Oklahoma-based company.

This tornado was an F-5. The top of the scale. The last one of the same magnitude was in 1999.

[1:16] "What’s the odds of having two F5 tornadoes in your lifetime? You don’t expect that. A structure like this would withstand an F2 or 3, you know. It’s kinda how we’ve done things." FULL POST

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Filed under: Environment • Nature • Soundwaves • Stories
Can cities keep up with bad weather?
Flooding in the Chicago area is monitored and managed from this control room. The system was overwhelmed by storms last month.
May 20th, 2013
12:06 PM ET

Can cities keep up with bad weather?

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: nova_safo

(CNN) - By the end of the century, cities on the east coast of the U.S. could experience flooding at Hurricane Sandy levels every couple of years. That’s according to a report in the latest issue of Scientific American.

The study sites updated forecast models which predict climate change will lead to higher sea levels than previously thought.

But climate change is not just a concern for coastal cities. Today, the state of Indiana will just begin assessing flood damage to its public infrastructure. The damage was caused by record rain storms last month. Those same storms also brought flood waters to Chicago.

Those are  just the latest prime examples of the new challenge many cities are facing: an increasing frequency of heavy storms, which cities are not currently designed to deal with.

To see what Chicago is doing, and how the rest of the country might be affected, we visited the control center where flood waters are managed.

What we learned from David St. Pierre, the executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, is that climate change has arrived:

[1:00] “We are seeing these extreme rain events that we have never seen before in Chicago. After you get one 100-year rain event, everybody said, 'Well, we won’t see that in another 100 years.' And then two years later, we had another event. And this year, we had yet another. So we are seeing climate change and it is real.”

To find out more about what scientists are predicting will be the new reality for American cities over the next 20 to 30 years, and to find out what states are doing, please listen to our story in the above player.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

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Filed under: Environment • Nature • Soundwaves • Stories
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