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Melania Trump, Karen Pence stop at Whataburger, treat press to french fries

First lady Melania Trump, along with second lady Karen Pence, traveled to Texas on Wednesday to visit with first responders and check on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. And if there’s anything politicians (or in this case, politicians’ spouses) love to do when they’re on a visit, it’s make a stop at a purveyor of local cuisine. Trump and Pence flew through Corpus Christi, which means Whataburger.

>> Read more trending news

According to social media reports (including tweets from reporters along for the trip, as well as a White House official), the first and second lady stopped by the venerable Texas burger chain and walked out with at least some of those famous fries. The rest of their order is unknown (so far), but the tweets about the pit stop are quite a journey.

Reporters in the press pool said the first and second lady treated them to fries.

Officials in Texas approved. The orange and the white, as ever, proved to be a unifying force.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Trump and Pence stopped at the Whataburger at 602 Padre Island Drive. 

Famous Florida Keys resort closed due to Irma; 260 workers lose their jobs

Employees at a resort in the Florida Keys were laid off just weeks after a major hurricane destroyed parts of the resort.

The 260 employees at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key were terminated via email on Oct. 13 just six weeks after Category 4 Hurricane Irma destroyed some of the resort, according to FLKeysNews.

>> Read more trending news

Due to the damage, the 60-acre resort will not reopen until at least summer 2018, which led to the decision to lay off employees.

“Our crew members are what make Hawks Cay Resort special. This decision was the most difficult one that we had to make,” managing director Sheldon Suga said in a statement obtained by FLKeysNews.

The lay-offs have irked some employees, who claim that the resort showed little regard for their employees’ safety or well-being following the hurricane.

“The only communication I really had from them after I got back from evacuating was a phone call and it wasn’t, ‘Hi, how are you?’ It was ‘Do you have any of our uniforms?’ I went, ‘Are you serious? My house was flooded and I’m not really worried if I have any of your uniforms,’” an anonymous laid-off employee told FLKeysNews.

The former resort worker also mentioned that nearly 50 of his co-workers moved from the islands and don’t have plans to return after the storm.

“We ensured crew members received hurricane pay up to Oct. 14,” Suga told FLKeysNews. “With a reopening date still unknown, we had to give them notice.” 

Suga also noted that the company will make efforts to help their staff members find employment elsewhere. 

Read more at FLKeysNews

WATCH: Former President Barack Obama Giggles At George W. Bush's Joke

WATCH: Former President Barack Obama Giggles At George W. Bush's Joke

It’s been a month and Puerto Rico still needs your help — where to donate your money, how to volunteer and more

Puerto Ricans are still in need of aid nearly one month after Hurricane Maria’s devastation.

» RELATED: What it’s like in Puerto Rico, a month after Hurricane Maria hit

The official death toll on the U.S. island territory has increased to 48, but more than 100 people are still missing, officials said.

According to CNN, as of Wednesday, about 1 million people are still without running water and 3 million people are without power.

Only 45 of 70 hospitals are currently operating with electricity, and according to FEMA officials, there is a severe food shortage.

President Donald Trump met local and federal officials in Puerto Rico on Oct. 3 and praised his administration’s response to the storm.

» RELATED: Twitter users, politicians blast Trump's comments, behavior in Puerto Rico as ‘inappropriate’

"I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack," Trump said. "But that's fine.”

His remarks came amid harsh criticism that the administration’s response to the disaster was slow or insufficient.

Trump is set to meet with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello Thursday to discuss rebuilding efforts, White House officials said.

» RELATED: Trying to reach your loved ones in Puerto Rico? Who to call, email

The once-Category 5 storm hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in mid-September and eventually downgraded to a Category 4, but not before it plowed through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, flooded the streets, collapsed homes and left the entire territory without power.

According to the New York Times, the 155-mph winds also left 80 percent of the United States commonwealth’s crop value completely destroyed.

» RELATED: Hurricane Maria: Live updates

Families desperately trying to connect with their loved ones have also had trouble reaching them, as few of the island’s 1,600 cellphone towers were operational.

“What's out there is total devastation. Total annihilation. People literally gasping for air. I personally have taken people out and put them in ambulances because their generator has run out,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told ABC News.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the dangerous hurricane downgraded to a tropical storm and slowly moved away from the U.S. east coast after causing some storm surge flooding.

» RELATED: Trump promises visit, aid to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico

How you can help the victims of Hurricane Maria

Make monetary donations to charities or crowdfunding campaigns

According to the United States Agency for International Development, giving money to reputable relief agencies and nonprofits is the most effective way to help and to avoid using resources to transport or deliver donated goods.

Listed below are several charity organizations or crowdfunding campaigns to choose from. You can also use Charity Navigator to learn more about the organizations before donating.

Note that sending money via text message may seem convenient, but according to the Associated Press, that’s not the case. Charities often have to wait on phone companies to release the money.

Here are some organizations to consider giving money to:

United for Puerto Rico (direct aid and support for Puerto Rico spearheaded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico)

Hispanic Federation (text Unidos and an amount to 4-144 or visit the website)

Americares (emergency and medical supplies)

UNICEF (emergency relief and help for children affected)

Save the Children (emergency relief and help for children affected)

ConPRmetidos (Puerto Rico-based nonprofit to benefit “immediate needs of food, shelter, water” and more)

GlobalGiving Caribbean Hurricane Maria & Irma Relief Fund (from US-based nonprofit Global Giving)

SPCA International (help for animal rescue and care)

Habitat for Humanity (housing and shelter needs)

All Hands (specific for U.S. Virgin Islands)

Salvation Army (supplies and shelter needs)

» RELATED: How you can help Mexico and people affected by the Mexico earthquake

Other crowdfunding campaigns:

- GoFundMe’s Hurricane Maria relief homepage (a landing page with several crowdfunding efforts)

21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund (NBA star Tim Duncan hoping to raise $5 million for his home country)

Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund (bringing relief to Dominica)

Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Hurricane Relief Fund (to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes)

» RELATED: Hurricane Maria set Puerto Rico back decades, official says

Make monetary donations via Google search

If you do a Google search for “Hurricane Maria,” you’ll be able to donate money directly in the search results. Scroll down to donate $5, $25 or $50 to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Check if your employer will match your donation

Doublethedonation.com has a nifty tool that lets you enter your company name to find out whether or not your employer offers a matching gift program for donations.

Donate blood

The American Red Cross urges generous volunteer blood donors to give blood year-round, not only at the time of disaster. Currently, a need for platelet and type O blood donations are especially needed, according to the organization website.

Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to begin the donation process.

» RELATED: Disaster declared in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastates island

Donate useful goods

Monetary donations are preferred, but this nationwide Google spreadsheet also has donation drop-off locations for essential items.

» RELATED: Puerto Rico mayor Cruz begs for solar-powered supplies on CNN; slams acting Homeland Security head

According to the spreadsheet, there’s not a great need for clothing, and transporting water and food may waste resources.

Instead, think about long-term supplies someone may need without electricity or food, such as asthma pumps, bug repellent, eye drops water purification products.

Other high-ticket items include solar powered USB chargers, lanterns, radios, batteries, baby items and duct tape.

Some locations on the Google spreadsheet only collected items through the end of September, but others are collecting them on an ongoing basis. 

Please check the spreadsheet for updated times and locations and give the site manager a call before dropping off supplies.

Volunteer

The American Red Cross is looking is dispatching volunteers to aid areas affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Local residents should use this form.

All non-local residents interested in volunteering should use this separate form.

More information about volunteer expectations and requirements at redcross.org.

You can also volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

» RELATED: Trump: “Big decisions” must be made about rebuilding Puerto Rico

The organization is assessing housing and shelter needs in impacted areas and is evaluating the support it receives from donors, volunteers and other partners before making any long-term decisions.

“We ask that your enthusiasm and interest stay long after the first few weeks as volunteers will be critically needed throughout the recovery and rebuilding phase, which may last months or even years,” the organization posted on its website.

Sign up for the Habitat for Humanity volunteer registry here.

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is allowing volunteers to register to help, but notes that Puerto Rico is asking for volunteers not to deploy to the communities affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Several VOAD volunteer opportunities from casework, cleanup and more are posted here.

Spread awareness on social media

Sometimes, word of mouth (or text) is all it takes. Take part in the relief campaign by retweeting news and alerts about shelters, donations and more from official accounts such as @PRFAA@FEMARegion2@ricardorossello@Univision PR@USNationalGuard and several news organizations.

Be sure to share your donation links, let people know how to donate and continue to spread awareness with hashtags (#PuertoRico, #MariaPR, #PrayForPuertoRico, #UnidosPorPR, #UnitedForPR are some examples).

Nursing Home Where 12 Patients Died after Hurricane Irma Laid off all Employees

Nursing Home Were 12 Patients Died after Hurricane Irma Laid off all Employees

VIDEO: Scenes from Hurricane Nate

VIDEO: Scenes from Hurricane Nate

Photos: Hurricane Nate lashes Gulf Coast before weakening to tropical storm

Hurricane Nate brought flooding and power outages as it sloshed ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday, the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hurricane Nate Heading to U.S.

Hurricane Nate Heading to U.S.

Lin-Manuel Miranda pens song for Puerto Rico relief

He’s using his megastar power not for another blockbuster Broadway show, but rather to help those who lost everything when Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind the hits of “Hamilton” and “Moana,” said he pulled every favor he could to get an all-star group together to help raise money to help out Puerto Ricans who are trying to put their lives back together.

>> Read more trending news

“We’re facing a humanitarian crisis right now. And the response from our federal government is not commensurate with the previous two hurricanes, much less up to the unprecedented danger of this disaster itself,” Miranda told Rolling Stone.

He came up with the song “Almost Like Praying,” which dropped to online music services like iTunes, Thursday. All of the proceeds will go to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund to take supplies to the island.

Included on the track are Hispanic stars like Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan and Rita Moreno.

The song is made up of the 78 towns on the island.

And Miranda himself knows first hand about the devastation. He has family and friends still living in Puerto Rico.

“I heard from my family four days after, five days after - some people are still waiting,” he told USA Today.

There’s a connection between the song and the hurricane, other than the hope of help it will bring. Hurricane Maria shares the name of the main female character in “West Side Story,” and Miranda used what he called his favorite song from the musical, USA Today reported.

“The name ‘Maria’ forever has a negative connotation for this island. It’s the worst storm in 100 years. It’s also the name of my favorite song from “West Side Story.” I kept thinking about that song, so I took a sample from the song “Maria,” to flip it. To literally flip the sample the same way we’re trying to flip the natural disaster into something positive,” Miranda said.

In two weeks since Hurricane Maria hit the island, only just over 9 percent of those living there have power and most homes still don’t have running water, CNN reported.

Wearing 'Nasty' shirt, San Juan mayor rips Trump's hurricane response

Wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word “Nasty,” the mayor of Puerto Rico’s biggest city ripped into President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his response to the devastation left on the U.S. territory by Hurricane Maria.

>> Read more trending news

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz wore the shirt during an interview with Spanish-language station Univision.

"When someone is bothered by someone claiming (a) lack of drinking water, lack of medicine for the sick and lack of food for the hungry, that person has problems too deep to be explained in an interview,” Cruz said, according to Newsweek. “What is really nasty is that anyone would turn their back on the Puerto Rican people.”

Critics of Trump first started embracing the “nasty” moniker in 2016, when as the Republican presidential nominee he called Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during a presidential debate.

Over the weekend he used the word to describe Cruz, claiming that she was criticizing him at the urging of Democrats.

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he wrote.

It’s not the first time Cruz has used her clothing to send a message. She donned a shirt that had the phrase, “Help us, we are dying,” on it for an interview Friday with CNN.

The mayor has been a prominent figure since Hurricane Maria started barreling toward Puerto Rico. The storm made landfall on the island on Sept. 20, bringing devastating winds and torrential rains. More than 30 deaths on the island have been attributed to the hurricane, which also knocked out Puerto Rico’s entire power grid and left many of its 3.4 million residents without potable water.

>> Related: Trump getting bad reviews over Puerto Rico visit, saying damage wasn’t ‘a real catastrophe’

Cruz has been vocal in her criticism of Trump, praising White House officials, but criticizing the president for the administration’s overall response. 

Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday and faced criticism after he was caught on video throwing rolls of paper towels to victims of the storm who were waiting for the president to pass out supplies.

He told officials that they should be “very proud” that the death toll from the storm was so low, unlike the deaths seen in “a real catastrophe, like (2005’s Hurricane) Katrina.”

All living former U.S. presidents to attend hurricane relief concert

All five living former U.S. presidents will attend a newly announced hurricane relief concert at Texas A&M University on Oct. 21.

>> Read more trending news

“Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal” will feature Alabama, the Gatlin Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Yolanda Adams and several other music acts, according to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation. Country music star Lee Greenwood will emcee the event.

>> Related: Former presidents join forces for hurricane relief

The former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — recently launched One America Appeal to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Read the full story on mystatesman.com

Hurricane Irma: Birds typically from Caribbean found in rough shape in Northeast Florida

With the waves and wind from Hurricane Irma, and more rough conditions from the recent nor'easter, BEAKS founder Cindy Mosling said they’ve taken in dozens of birds.

“Probably about 100 or more birds have come in,” Mosling said.

She said many of them, like Sooty Terns, were in rough shape.

>> Read more trending news

“They’re tired, starving, worn out, exhausted and caught in the surf,” Mosling said.

She said these birds are rarely seen flying around northeast Florida.

“We never get them unless there’s a storm,” she said

She said they’re usually found closer to the Florida Keys.

“And out toward the Bahamas in the Caribbean area, they often get blown in and it does say once they get well, they go back home,” Mosling said.

She said a handful of birds will likely be released Thursday because they’re finally strong enough to fly.

Trump Getting Bad Reviews Over Puerto Rico Visit

Trump Getting Bad Reviews Over Puerto Rico Visit

Caribbean hurricane evacuees arrive in Florida on cruise ship

More than 3,800 hurricane evacuees arrived in South Florida on Tuesday courtesy of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

>> Read more trending news 

The bulk of the evacuees aboard Adventure of the Seas were from Puerto Rico, with almost 900 from St. Croix and St. John and almost 700 from St. Thomas, according to WTVJ

While in Puerto Rico, the ship also picked stranded cruise crew members and tourists to bring them home, according to WSVN

Yaima Escobar was one of the relatives waiting at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades to welcome six relatives from Puerto Rico.

“They are very sad,” Escobar told WSVN, “very sad to leave the house and leaving everything back, not knowing when you’re going back -- if you are going back.”

Disaster relief centers for the evacuees have been set up at international airports in Orlando and Miami, as well as one at Port Miami. 

Royal Caribbean canceled another cruise so it could take part in this relief mission, WSVN reported. 

Read more at WTVJ or WSVN

President Trump Visits Puerto Rico Post Hurricane Maria

President Trump Visits Puerto Rico Post Hurricane Maria

'SNL' premiere: Baldwin's Trump slams San Juan mayor, NFL protesters

"Saturday Night Live" is back – and the iconic comedy show doesn't appear to be giving President Donald Trump a free pass anytime soon.

The season 43 premiere kicked off with a fresh skewering of the president, starting with his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico and ensuing feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

>> Watch the sketch here

In the cold open, Melissa Villaseñor, playing Cruz, called Alec Baldwin's Trump, pleading for federal assistance. He promised to send aid by "Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest."

"Mr. President, that's not good enough," Villaseñor-as-Cruz replied.

"Well, you should've paid your bills," Baldwin's Trump fired back. "FEMA takes a few days unless you join FEMA Prime."

Baldwin-as-Trump said he wants to help Puerto Rico, "but we have to take care of America first."

"Wait, you do know we're a U.S. territory, don't you?" Villaseñor's Cruz asked.

Baldwin's Trump, mouth agape, hesitated before stammering, "I mean, I do, but not many know that, no."

He later hung up on her, saying, "Wow, that woman was so nasty." 

>> Watch a clip here

The sketch then tackled Trump's recent response to NFL players' national anthem protests.

"I'm a little embarrassed that I said it's a black-and-white issue," said Aidy Bryant, playing Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "I should've said it's a black-versus-white issue."

>> Read more trending news

"It's disgraceful," Baldwin's Trump responded. "You know, I actually love football. I could've played. People say I remind them of an NFL player because I'm combative, I like to win and I might have a degenerative brain disease."

>> See the clip here

The cold open also took aim at Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon), who popped up in the Oval Office and hopped into the president's lap to get back on his good side.

"I might look adorable, but I'm frightening," McKinnon's Sessions said.

>> See the GIF here

Much to McKinnon-as-Sessions' dismay, Trump cut their chat short for dinner with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat).

"Sir, are you really leaving with him?" McKinnon's Sessions asked.

"I told you, I'm nothing if not loyal," Baldwin's Trump replied. "Come over here, Chuck. We're both New Yorkers, we both enjoy a good slice, we never go to Times Square and we love saying ..."

McKinnon and Moffat joined Baldwin to finish the sentence: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"

Rihanna to Trump: 'Don't let your people die like this'

Singer Rihanna criticized President Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria’s devastating impact on Puerto Rico in a tweet on Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Hurricane Maria slammed into the island with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, bringing with it torrential rains and catastrophic wind gusts. The storm knocked out the country’s power grid and left millions of people without potable water.

Rihanna on Thursday shared an image with the president of the New York Daily News’s Sept. 27 front page which read, “No food, no water, no power, no medical care for the dying … Puerto Rico needs more help, Mr. President!” over the words “American tragedy.”

“Dear @realDonaldTrump I know you've probably already seen this, but I just wanted to make sure!” Rihanna, who is from Barbados, wrote Thursday. “Don't let your people die like this.”

Rihanna is the latest celebrity to urge Trump to do more in response to the storm, along with “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapper Pitbull and actress Jennifer Lopez.

A few hours after posting her message to Trump, Rihanna called for a “round of applause” for efforts to aid Puerto Rico from former presidents George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Government officials are also being criticized by Puerto Rican authorities after acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke declared that the federal response to the damage on the island is a “good news story.”

"When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good news story," Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told CNN on Friday. "Damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a people-are-dying story."

Recovery efforts in Puerto Rico are ongoing.

12th Florida nursing home patient dies after Hurricane Irma

A 12th elderly patient at Florida’s Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center died Thursday night after being taken from the overheated nursing home that had no air conditioning for three days after Hurricane Irma hit, according to the Broward Medical Examiner.

>> Read more trending news

Dolores Biamonte, 57, had the same symptoms as the other patients who were brought to Memorial Regional Hospital. An autopsy will be preformed on Biamonte Friday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Biamonte’s death comes after eight patients died on Sept. 13, and three more died last week. The ages of the first 11 who died ranged from 78 to 99, according to The Associated Press

Since the hurricane, all patients have been removed from the home and the state has revoked its license, but the home has filed a lawsuit to overturn the state’s decision, according to the AP.

Read more at the Sun Sentinel and The Associated Press

Deshaun Watson Donates First Game Check To Hurricane Harvey Victims

Deshaun Watson Donates First Game Check To Hurricane Harvey Victims

Trump waives Jones Act to aid Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

President Donald Trump on Thursday morning waived a little-known federal law aimed at protecting the U.S. shipping industry in an effort to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

>> Read more trending news

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision in a tweet Thursday morning.

“At (Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello’s) request, (Trump) has authorized the Jones Act to be waived for Puerto Rico,” Huckabee Sanders said. “It will go into effect immediately.”

The Jones Act bars foreign-flagged ships from taking goods and passengers between U.S. ports.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke waived the law earlier this month to help ease fuel shortages in the Southeast following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That order included Puerto Rico, but expired last week shortly after Hurricane Maria struck.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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