Around 295,000 without power from Hurricane Sally in Alabama, Florida

(Reuters) – Around 295,000 homes and businesses were still without power on Friday in Florida and Alabama after Hurricane Sally smashed into the Gulf Coast early Wednesday, according to local utilities.

That is down from a total of more than 614,000 customers affected by the storm in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

NextEra Energy Inc’s Gulf Power utility in Florida said it has already restored service to about 158,000 customers. The utility still has about 126,500 without power.

In Louisiana, which was not hit by Sally, about 40,000 customers were still without power in the southwestern part of the state since Hurricane Laura hit the coast in late August.

Entergy Corp, which still has about 25,600 out in Louisiana, said it expected to restore service to most customers by Sept. 23. In the Hackberry area where the Cameron LNG export plant is located, Entergy has said it expects to restore service by Sept. 20.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino)

Oil markets flat as restarts begin at storm-hit energy operations

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Energy companies on Friday continued efforts to restore operations at U.S. Gulf Coast offshore platforms and refineries shut by Hurricane Laura as oil markets largely shrugged off the storm’s impact.

Some 300 offshore production facilities and half-dozen refineries halted ahead of a Category 4 storm that hit the coast of Louisiana early Thursday with winds of 150 mile per hour (240 kph). The destructive winds cut a narrow path through the area, sparing facilities not directly in its path.

However, Citgo Petroleum’s 418,000-barrel per day Lake Charles, Louisiana, plant was on the storm’s path, and repairs could take four to six weeks, according to Mizuho Securities. The company did not reply to requests for comment.

Motiva Enterprises, operator of the largest U.S. refinery, and Valero Energy Corp on Friday began restarting their Port Arthur, Texas, refineries.

U.S. crude futures traded at $43.08 per barrel at midday, up four cents, up slightly from $42.34 a week ago. U.S. gasoline futures were up 2 cents, less than 2% higher than they were a week ago.

About 84%, or 1.56 million barrels per day, of U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude output and 60% of natural gas offshore production were shut on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Interior reported.

Exxon Mobil Corp said its 369,024 bpd Beaumont, Texas, refinery, about 50 miles (80 km) west of the storm’s landfall, required “minor repairs,” a spokesman said. The company was taking steps to restart once power and port operations were restored.

Cheniere Energy Inc’s and Cameron LNG’s Cameron liquefied natural gas plants in Louisiana took almost no pipeline gas early on Friday, according to preliminary data from Refinitiv.

“Refiners may be reluctant to quickly return to production when the product they make is a money losing proposition,” Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, wrote on Friday.

The ports of Beaumont, Orange and Sabine, Texas, and Cameron and Lake Charles, Louisiana, remained closed on Friday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Houston, the United States’ largest energy export port, restarted operations on Thursday and had nearly halved the list of 53 vessels waiting on Thursday to reenter the port.

One-way movement and other restrictions were in place on Friday at points along the Houston Ship Channel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)

Oil prices slip as Hurricane Laura makes Gulf Coast landfall

By Ahmad Ghaddar

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday as a massive hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico made landfall in the heart of the U.S. oil industry, forcing oil rigs and refineries to shut down.

Brent crude futures for October, which expire on Friday, fell 50 cents, or 1.1%, to $45.14 a barrel by 1359 GMT. The more active November Brent contract was down 55 cents, or 1.2%, at $45.61 per barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 39 cents or 0.9% to $43 a barrel.

Hurricane Laura made landfall early on Thursday in southwestern Louisiana as a category 4 storm, one of the most powerful to hit the state, with forecasters warning it could push a wall of water 40 miles inland from the sea.

Oil producers on Tuesday had shut 1.56 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output, or 84% of the Gulf of Mexico’s production, evacuating 310 offshore facilities.

At the same time, refiners that convert nearly 2.33 million bpd of crude oil into fuel, and account for about 12% of U.S. processing, halted operations.

“Perhaps traders are waiting to see what the damage is but the limited impact so far may also just be a reflection of the current oil market dynamics. Temporary disruptions are easily covered,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.

Oil prices also shrugged off U.S. crude inventory declines and signs that gasoline demand in the world’s biggest oil consumer were improving.

Crude oil stockpiles fell last week as exports soared the most in 18 months and refineries boosted production to the highest rate since March, Energy Information Administration data showed on Wednesday. Gasoline stocks also fell.

“It appears that the gasoline inventory reduction was due first and foremost to increased demand – gasoline demand rose to a six-month high of around 9.2 million bpd,” Commerzbank said.

(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta; editing by Jason Neely)

Hurricane Laura approaches U.S. Gulf Coast forcing tens of thousands to evacuate

(Reuters) – Hurricane Laura was bearing down on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday, threatening fierce winds and storm surge from San Luis Pass, Texas to Ocean Springs, Mississippi and prompting thousands to evacuate before an expected Thursday landfall.

The storm strengthened to a hurricane as its center moved northwest over Cuba early Tuesday at 16 miles per hour (26 kph)with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour (110 kph), and it was due to intensify over the next two days, the National Hurricane Center said.

The Texas city of Galveston imposed a mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday after the storm’s track veered westward overnight towards to the island community of some 50,000 people. The storm was 620 miles (1,000 km) southeast of Galveston on Tuesday morning.

“It’s imperative that you make plans this morning to secure your homes and move you and your family to safety off island,” acting Mayor Craig Brown said in a statement on Tuesday.

More than 330,000 residents living in Jefferson and Orange Counties in eastern Texas were also placed under a mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday.

On Monday, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, an oil town of 54,000 people 85 miles (137 km) east of Houston, ordered a mandatory evacuation, giving residents until 6 a.m. on Tuesday to leave.

Laura is projected to make landfall in the Texas-Louisiana border region late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as a major hurricane, possibly Category 3 on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity, the NHC said.

“This has the potential to be the strongest hurricane to hit since Hurricane Rita,” Louisiana Governor John Edwards said at a Monday evening news conference, referring to the Category 5 hurricane that hit in 2005.

The storm comes on the heels of Tropical Storm Marco, which weakened sooner than expected and made landfall on Monday in Louisiana before dissipating.

Laura skirted the southern coast of Cuba on Monday but did not cause as much damage as it did in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it killed at least 10 people.

The coincidence of Laura’s storm surge with high tide along the Gulf Coast from High Island, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana could result in water levels rising as high as 11 feet, the Miami-based forecaster said.

Rainfall along the coast near the Texas-Louisiana border, as much as a foot of water in some places, was expected to cause widespread flooding.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Tropical storm brewing off U.S. Gulf Coast, likely to hit Louisiana as hurricane

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERS

(Reuters) – A storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico and aimed at water-logged New Orleans was expected to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2019 season by late Friday or early Saturday, forecasters said.

A waterspout is seen on Lake Pontchartrain off New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Bryon Callahan via REUTERS

A waterspout is seen on Lake Pontchartrain off New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Bryon Callahan via REUTERS

The storm, which forecasters said might escalate to a tropical storm by late Thursday, had maximum sustained winds of 35 miles per hour (55 kph) as of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Meteorologists predicted between 10 and 20 inches (25 and 50 cm) of rain would fall on the Gulf Coast on Friday and Saturday from West Texas through New Orleans and the Louisiana coast.

“The whole area is in for a soaking, the worst of it on Saturday,” said David Roth, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

The storm remained a tropical disturbance early on Thursday about 115 miles (185 km) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm will be named Barry if it strengthens into a tropical storm with winds of 39 mph or more on the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale. It will become Hurricane Barry if it reaches wind speeds of 74 mph (119 km) as expected when it makes landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River and just west of New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

“The storm system will likely produce storm surge, hurricane-force winds,” he said at a news conference. “No one should take this storm lightly.”

 

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERS

A flooded area is seen in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., July 10, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. David Mora via REUTERSNational Guard troops were in place across the state, the governor said.

U.S. oil producers on Wednesday cut nearly a third of Gulf of Mexico crude output ahead of the storm.

Fifteen production platforms and four rigs were evacuated in the north-central Gulf of Mexico, according to a U.S. regulator as oil firms moved workers to safety.

New Orleans was already hit with widespread flooding on Wednesday from a weather system that might inundate the low-lying U.S. city.

The National Weather Service said the city had received 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm) of rain by Thursday morning, causing dramatic flooding in the area, including on Bourbon Street in the city’s historic French Quarter.

Officials advised residents on Wednesday to stock up on emergency supplies and ordered evacuations in some vulnerable residential areas.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Peter Sezekely and Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bill Trott)

Storm Michael expected to hit Florida as a hurricane midweek

A satellite image of Tropical Storm Michael taken Monday. NOAA/via REUTERS

By Rich McKay and Jon Herskovitz

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Michael is on track to hit the Florida Panhandle midweek as a Category 2 hurricane packing 100 miles per hour (160 kmh) or stronger winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Monday in an advisory.

The tropical storm is expected to swell into a Category 1 hurricane as soon as Monday night or early Tuesday as it rolls into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, with winds of 70 mph, as of 5 a.m. eastern time, forecasters said, just shy of being named a hurricane.

A storm is designated a Category 1 hurricane if it reaches speeds of 74 mph (119 km) or more, and a Category 2 hurricane at 96 mph (154 km) or more on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in more than 20 counties along the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend on Sunday and has put more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers on alert.

“Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane of tropical storm can be,” Scott said in a statement.

He advised Gulf Coast residents to prepare for possible evacuation orders.

Michael battered parts of Mexico and Cuba with powerful winds and drenching rains on Sunday and into early Monday as it churned in the Caribbean.

The storm moved north on a path between Cozumel in southeastern Mexico and the western tip of Cuba, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

A hurricane watch has been issued from the Alabama-Florida border eastward to the Suwanee River, Florida.

Outer bands from Michael are expected produce as much as 4 inches (10 cm) of rain through Tuesday in the Florida Keys, one of several areas in the state devastated by Hurricane Irma last year.

After hitting Florida, the storm is then forecast to move northeast along the Atlantic Coast and batter the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence last month. That hurricane killed at least 50 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

The Commodity Weather Group said on Sunday some oil rigs in the gulf area may be evacuated as a precaution, which may slow down operations but was not likely cause much interruption.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

More than 45 percent of the nation’s refining capacity is located along the U.S. Gulf Coast, which also is home to 51 percent of total U.S. natural gas processing capability.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Storm Gordon starts kicking up waves on U.S. Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Gordon is pictured nearing Florida, U.S. in this September 2, 2018 NASA satellite handout photo. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Waves began to batter parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday as the region felt the first hit of Tropical Storm Gordon, which is expected to become a hurricane before it comes ashore with high winds and heavy rain, forecasters said.

The storm also caused a jump in global oil prices after the evacuation of two oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gordon was due to come ashore late on Tuesday near the border between Louisiana and Mississippi, and drop as much as 12 inches (30 cm) of rain in areas still recovering from last year’s hurricanes, the National Hurricane Center said.

Currently carrying winds of around 65 miles per hour (105 km per hour), the storm was expected to pack hurricane-force winds – of at least 74 mph (119 kph) – when it reached the north-central Gulf Coast, the center said.

High surf was already hitting Alabama’s Dauphin Island early Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Mobile said on Twitter.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and said 200 Louisiana National Guardsmen were being deployed, along with 63 high-water trucks, 39 boats, and four helicopters.

Trees sway as Storm Gordon descends on Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., September 3, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. @Saralina77/via REUTERS

Trees sway as Storm Gordon descends on Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., September 3, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. @Saralina77/via REUTERS

New Orleans’ mayor, LaToya Cantrell, declared her own state of emergency and closed all non-essential government offices.

Storm surge of as much as 5 feet (1.5 m) could hit a stretch of coast from Shell Beach, Louisiana, to Dauphin Island, Alabama, forecasters said. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told South Mississippi residents to be prepared to evacuate.

As of Tuesday morning, Gordon was located about 190 miles (305 km) east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and was heading west-northwest, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

U.S. oil producer Anadarko Petroleum Corp evacuated workers and shut production at two offshore oil platforms on Monday, and other companies with production and refining operations along the Gulf Coast said they were securing facilities.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 17 percent of U.S. crude oil and 5 percent of natural gas output daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. More than 45 percent of the nation’s refining capacity is located along the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the ports of New Orleans as well as Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, may have to close within 48 hours.

Maintenance crew work near power lines during an outage after Storm Gordon descended on Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., September 3, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. @ZwebackHD/via REUTERS

Maintenance crew work near power lines during an outage after Storm Gordon descended on Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., September 3, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. @ZwebackHD/via REUTERS

Last year, powerful hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage and massive power outages.

Gordon passed over Florida’s southern tip on Monday afternoon. There were no reports of any injuries or deaths or any damage to buildings, said Alberto Moscoso, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

(Reporting Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Louise Heavens, Andrew Heavens and Frances Kerry)

‘Jackpotting’ hackers steal over $1 million from ATM machines across U.S.: Secret Service

A hooded man holds a laptop computer as blue screen with an exclamation mark is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017.

By Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A coordinated group of hackers likely tied to international criminal syndicates has pilfered more than $1 million by hijacking ATM machines across the United States and forcing them to spit out bills like slot machines dispensing a jackpot, a senior U.S. Secret Service official said on Monday.

Within the past few days there have been about a half-dozen successful “jackpotting” attacks, the official said.

The heists, which involve hacking ATMs to rapidly shoot out torrents of cash, have been observed across the United States spanning from the Gulf Coast in the southern part of the country to the New England region in the northeast, Matthew O’Neill, a special agent in the criminal investigations division, told Reuters in an interview.

The spate of attacks represented the first widespread jackpotting activity in the United States, O’Neill said. Previous campaigns have been spotted in parts of Europe and Latin America in recent years.

“It was just a matter of time until it hit our shores,” O’Neill said.

Diebold Nixdorf Inc and NCR Corp, two of the world’s largest ATM makers, warned last week that cyber criminals are targeting ATMs with tools needed to carry out jackpotting schemes.

The Diebold Nixdorf alert described steps that criminals had used to compromise ATMs. They include gaining physical access, replacing the hard drive and using an industrial endoscope to depress an internal button required to reset the device.

A confidential U.S. Secret Service alert seen by Reuters and sent to banks on Friday said machines running XP were more vulnerable and encouraged ATM operators to update to Windows 7 to protect against the attack, which appeared to be targeting ATMs typically located in pharmacies, big box retailers and drive-thrus.

While initial intelligence suggested only ATMs running on outdated Windows XP software were being targeted, the Secret Service has seen successful attacks within the past 48 hours on machines running updated Windows 7, O’Neil said.

“There isn’t one magic solution to solve the problem,” he said.

A local electronic crimes task force in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area first reported an unsuccessful jackpotting attempt last week, O’Neill said.

A few days later another local partner witnessed similar activity and “developed intelligence” that indicated a sustained, coordinated attack was likely to occur over the next two weeks, O’Neill said. He declined to say where that partner was located.

Jackpotting has been rising worldwide in recent years, though it is unclear how much cash has been stolen because victims and police often do not disclose details.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington, D.C.; Editing by David Gregorio)

Hurricane Nate threatens U.S. central Gulf Coast after killing 25

Heavy machinery is used to remove mud from a highway that connects with the south of the country collapsed by Storm Nate in Casa Mata, Costa Rica October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

By Oswaldo Rivas

MANAGUA (Reuters) – Hurricane Nate may strengthen on Saturday, threatening to hit the U.S. central Gulf Coast with strong winds and storm surges after it killed at least 25 people in Central America.

New Orleans evacuated some residents from areas outside its levee system as Nate, a Category 1 hurricane, the weakest on a five-category scale used by meteorologists, churned towards the central Gulf of Mexico.

“Nate is at our doorstep or will be soon,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, adding that the winds could cause significant power outages, and storm surges are projected to be six to nine feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) high.

“We have been through this many, many times. There is no need to panic,” Landrieu told a news conference.

The storm brushed by Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, home to beach resorts such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as it headed north, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

With maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 kmh), Nate was about 345 miles (550 km) south-southeast of the Mississippi river and expected to strengthen before it makes landfall, the NHC said.

A state of emergency was declared for 29 Florida counties and states – Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi – as well as the New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The NHC issued a hurricane watch from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.

“By Saturday noon you should be in your safe place,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey told a news conference. “This is a fast-moving storm and we must begin preparing now.”

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production was offline ahead of the storm, and more oil companies halted operations on Friday.

On Saturday morning, Nate was moving north-northwest at 22 miles per hour (35 kmh), a fast pace which if maintained could mean the storm does less damage when it hits land.

CENTRAL AMERICA DEATHS

The storm doused Central America with heavy rains on Thursday, killing at least 12 people in Nicaragua, nine in Costa Rica, two in Honduras and two in El Salvador.

Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes and Costa Rica’s government declared a state of emergency.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis urged residents to remain vigilant, noting rains would likely resume.

In Honduras, residents wondered whether they would have to flee. Norma Chavez and her two children anxiously watched a river rise outside their home in Tegucigalpa, the capital.

“We are worried that it will grow more and carry away the house,” said Chavez, 45.

Through Monday, Nate is expected to produce two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) more rain in eastern Yucatan and western Cuba and three to six inches (8 to 15 inches) in the U.S. central Gulf Coast.

About 71 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil production and 53 percent of natural gas output is offline ahead of Nate’s arrival, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said on Friday.

Oil companies have evacuated staff from 66 platforms and five drilling rigs, it said. Oil production equaling 1.24 million barrels of crude per day is offline, according to BSEE.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Alexander Smith)

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show Sending Team to Texas

Jim and Lori Bakker ready to leave for the Houston area to bring food, comfort and prayer to those needing our help September 4, 2017

By Kami Klein

Pastor Jim and Lori Bakker left today for the Houston area to help local churches struggling to keep up with the needs from the disaster left behind from Hurricane Harvey.  Jim and Lori, along with The Jim Bakker Show team will be there to feed, comfort and pray with those who have lost so much and are struggling to rebuild.  They will witness with you scenes that are left from this devastating storm, and share with you the stories of heroism, courage and the humanity of the people that have been affected by this tragic event.

Yesterday, a truck loaded full with pallets of food buckets, water purification products, Bibles and other survival supplies left Morningside bound for Houston.  In an email from Pastor Jim he wrote,

 

“Never before have you been “the hands and feet of Jesus” as much as this moment.  Because you have been prepared and have prepared to share with others, we are able to make this trip possible.  

We appreciate all you do for this Ministry and for allowing us to represent you to thousands of hurting people in need. We could not be doing this without you.

Please continue to pray for us in our journey.  Pray for those still in harm’s way. And, most importantly, continue to pray that each one will experience the love of Jesus through us to His glory. ”

 

We will be sharing what is happening in Houston directly from our team as they work alongside these true survivors that have shown the world what being a Christian and an American is all about. Please keep them in your prayers!  

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

Morningside and The Jim Bakker Show team ready to leave for Houston.

We are now asking for your help by donating funds towards supporting and helping in areas where there is the greatest need.

The people of Houston and the gulf coast are only at the beginning of an incredibly daunting challenge as they rebuild their lives.  Now is the time to remember that we are all part of God’s family.

Now is the time for compassion!  Now is the time to act!

 Follow this link to our slideshow that will be updated throughout our team’s time in Texas!  

Please donate today!