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Staff members to stay at Jacksonville Zoo to ride out storm with animals

Staff members at the Jacksonville Zoo stayed behind Thursday and Friday to care for the animals during Hurricane Matthew. 

The Deputy Director of Animal Care and Conservation, Dan Maloney, said that all animals would shelter-in-place.

There are roughly 2,300 animals at the Zoo.

About 20 staff members were staying behind to care for them, zoo officials said. 

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The most vulnerable areas of the Zoo are the older buildings – including the aviary and front gates.

Land of the Tiger was built with storms in mind, zoo officials said. The cats beds are up high, as are the electrical sockets.

Backup generators are ready if needed.

After Hurricane Matthew, Ohio man Haiti-bound to find his wife

An Ohio woman has been stopped from returning home from Haiti due to Hurricane Matthew, now her husband is on his way to the island nation looking for any sign of his wife.

Chelsey Crabtree was in Haiti with family members on a mission trip, her husband Jacob Crabtree said. She had been there for about a week, he said, before Hurricane Matthew hit Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.

The family makes several visits to Haiti each year, he said, to help out at orphanages and drill water wells for their nonprofit, Living Water for Haiti.

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Jacob Crabtree, who was in Springfield, Ohio when the storm hit, was texting with his wife, he said, until about 4 a.m. Wednesday when he lost contact. She was telling him the storm’s strength was increasing, he said.

Nearly two days after the storm damaged Haiti, Crabtree had not been able to contact his wife for two days. He boarded a plane early Friday morning to fly to the country, headed to the town of Jeremie, Haiti to find his wife.

The town west of the capital of Port-Au-Prince was in the eye of Hurricane Matthew. His wife and her four family members were in that area on a mission trip.

The couple have been through a natural disaster before.  Last time, it was an earthquake that left her stranded in 2010. It took four days for her to make contact with her family.

“Obviously we’re worried, still no word from there,” Jacob Crabtree said.

>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew 

Tuesday, when the storm made landfall on southwestern Haiti, a NASA satellite captured the storm’s swirling clouds blanketing Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and much of eastern Cuba. It was a Cat 4 (sustained winds of 130 mph to 156 mph), the strongest to hit that nation in more than 50 years, NASA officials said.

Crabtree said he’ll not purchase a return ticket and depending on what he finds, he may stay to help with survivors and clean up.

“Just kind of leaving it open-ended, if they need help down there and there’s things I could do, I’ll stay, you know if I need to get them home, then I’ll get them home,” he said.

He admits he’s afraid, but he’s leaning on his faith in God.

“That’s what keeps us going back all the time you know? We’re all commanded to give back and to care for and there’s always those risks, but you know God didn’t command us to go to the safe places.”

Police: Suspect arrested breaking into Central Florida store as Matthew looms

Police in the Central Florida city of Sanford said a burglar was apprehended while trying to break into a Dollar General store Thursday as severe weather from Hurricane Matthew began to blow through.

>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew

The department tweeted that the burglar was arrested and posted a photo on Twitter of a front glass window smashed.

#HurricaneMatthew #Burglary #BREAKING Sanford Police apprehend a subject breaking into a Dollar General.— Sanford Police (@SanfordPolice) October 7, 2016<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Hurricane Matthew: Disney, Universal, Legoland, SeaWorld close for storm

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

As Hurricane Matthew approaches the East Coast and residents prepare for hurricane-force winds and heavy rain, theme parks in Central Florida and beyond are issuing closures.

>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew

Here's a wrapup of which parks have posted notices:


Disney's theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will close by 5 p.m. today and will stay closed Friday. Disney also canceled Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for Thursday.

The closures include three Disney resorts: Disney's Vero Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Florida; Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground in Orlando, Florida and Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in South Carolina.

In addition to its resorts and parks, Disney announced a number of changes to four of its planned cruises.

The Disney Fantasy was scheduled to depart Saturday from Port Canaveral, Florida, for a 7-day trip through the Caribbean. The cruise was delayed by a day and shortened to 6 days.

The Disney Dream, which was expected to return Friday to Port Canaveral, has been delayed by a day while the next trip out, scheduled to take place Friday, was canceled.

The Disney Magic, scheduled to leave Friday from New York, is changing its route to take travelers through Canada to avoid Matthew.

>> Click here for the latest from Disney.


The park posted a notice on its Facebook page that for Thursday, its theme parks and CityWalk will close at 5 p.m., Wet 'n Wild will close at 2 p.m. and Halloween Horror Nights is canceled.

» Related: FPL forecasts up to 1.2 million customers could lose power

On Friday, all theme parks will be closed and Halloween Horror Nights is canceled.

Universal expects to reopen its parks Saturday.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>11:20 AM UPDATE: For your safety, please be aware of the following operational changes. Stay tuned to our Social Media...Posted by Universal Orlando Resort on Thursday, October 6, 2016

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Legoland Florida will operate as usual Thursday, but will be closed Friday.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Due to Hurricane Matthew, LEGOLAND will close at 4pm on Thursday, Oct. 6 and remain closed Friday, Oct. 7. The kickoff...Posted by LEGOLAND Florida on Wednesday, October 5, 2016

>> Click here for the latest from Legoland.


SeaWorld posted on its website that it will close at 2 p.m. Thursday and be closed Friday. The park is expected to be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Hours are subject to change.

The SeaWorld call center will follow the same schedule for Thursday and Friday, and reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday.

>> Click here for the latest from SeaWorld.

Hurricane Matthew: How to help

The deadly and powerful Hurricane Matthew has left a path of destruction in Haiti, as it strengthens and heads toward the U.S. East Coast. 

Relief organizations are on the ground in storm-ravaged areas, providing aid. These nonprofit groups will be providing temporary shelter, food, water and medical care to those in need.

>>Hurricane Matthew: Live updates

International Red Cross



>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew 


International Medical Corps

World Vision

Mercy Corps

>>Photos: Hurricane Matthew

Direct Relief


Save the Children

For more aid organizations providing Hurricane Matthew relief, visit The Weather Channel.

Hurricane Matthew: Experts weigh in on saving family treasures

They may be a thousand miles away from the storm, but the experts at the Smithsonian Institution have some tips on how to save family treasures and important documents when Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in the U.S.

As you prepare for the storm, think about where you store family archives. Move them from areas that could flood like the basement, floor or near windows.

If they do get wet, all hope is not lost. 

>> Read more trending stories  

The National Heritage Responders' hotline can link you with trained conservators who can help. The number to call is 202-661-8068. The group has helped victims of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Haiti's earthquake in 2010 and North Dakota flooding in 2011.

FEMA has a fact sheet on trying to save any family treasures damaged by a storm or a fire. You can download the information here.

And finally, there's an app for that, available on Google Play and the App Store. The Emergency response and Salvage Mobile App has taken the place of the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel. The wheel was a staple of museums, libraries and archives across the globe. It will guide collectors on how to protect and salvage different types of collections like photographs and natural history specimens.

How will Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago withstand Hurricane Matthew’s winds?

Political pundits for months have gaped this year at how Republican nominee Donald Trump has blown through the presidential cycle like a hurricane.

And the brash billionaire knows a thing or two about hurricanes, considering that for more than 30 years he has owned landmarked Mar-a-Lago on a 20-acre site that stretches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach’s historic Estate Section.

The elaborate mansion-turned-private-club has weathered its share of hurricanes since it was completed in 1927. Its stucco-covered walls have remained standing after each hurricane, including the massive killer storm that wreaked havoc on South Florida’s east coast in 1928 and another that flooded the Estate Section and points south in 1947.

>>Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew

More recently, the building withstood the double whammy of back-to-back hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and, a year later, Hurricane Wilma, which surprised locals with its strength when it barreled in from the west.

And now another hurricane, named Matthew, is headed toward The Mar-a-Lago Club, expected to skirt the Atlantic coast late today as, perhaps, a brutal Category 4 storm.

“We lost a lot of the vegetation that gave Mar-a-Lago its character,” Trump told the Palm Beach Post following Hurricane Frances. “I wasn’t there for the storm, but I’ve been told by my people there that it re-landscaped the place. There was a little flooding in some of the basements, too.”

The landscape was replanted, and today, the grounds look as lush as ever.

>> Read more trending stories  

Solid foundation

Trump bought Mar-a-Lago, the mansion built by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, in 1985 at age 39 from her foundation for a price recorded at $5 million, reportedly paying several million more for the furnishings. A decade later, after pouring millions of dollars into its restoration, he opened The Mar-A-Lago Club, retaining residential quarters to use for himself and family members.

The real estate expert couldn’t have asked for a house better prepared to endure a hurricane. Mar-a-Lago is about a rock-solid as it gets, when it comes to being storm-ready.

Married to financier E.F. Hutton when she built it, Post understood the importance of making sure her house — the second she owned in Palm Beach — would have a solid foundation for its 128 rooms.

Concrete and steel anchors the structure to the coral reef below it. Many of the walls are 3-feet thick.

“This place will not move,” Trump’s former butler, Tony Senecal, told the Palm Beach Post in 2005. ‘That’s why, during a hurricane, you’ll always see me here. If it goes, I’ll go with it.”

The house’s architecture is an elaborate mix of Spanish, Moorish, Portuguese and Venetian influences, thanks to the work of architect Marion Sims Wyeth and Broadway set designer Joseph Urban. It is said to have taken 600 workers and artisans to complete the two-year project, which broke ground in 1925.

The paint had barely had time to dry when the 1928 hurricane arrived, making landfall in September near West Palm Beach. With winds estimated at 145 mph, the storm destroyed more than 1,700 homes and generated a storm surge that caused Lake Okeechobee to burst some 45 miles away, drowning as many as 2,500 people.

In Palm Beach, the storm washed out the coastal road that hugged the beachfront between Wells Road and the Palm Beach Country Club. Today’s North Ocean Boulevard was built a bit farther to the west in that area, creating beachfront estates that line the road. Farther south, the storm also swept away much of the beach, pushing the shoreline inland by more than 200 feet near Mar-a-Lago and in front of the then-new Bath & Tennis Club.

The hurricane’s damage to Post’s home mostly was confirmed to uprooted trees, although she reported damage to an expansive Roman-style window.

Some of her neighbors on the island weren’t so lucky. At La Querida on the North End, Philadelphia department store heir Rodman Wanamaker’s home, damage was so extensive that the house required renovation; it later was bought by Joseph P. Kennedy and, much later, became known worldwide as the Winter White House used by his son, President John F. Kennedy. Purchased last year by billionaire Jane Goldman, the house is being extensively renovated.

Preparing for a storm

Today, the staff at Mar-a-Lago prepares for hurricanes in much the same way that other Palm Beach property owners do, including removing or securing outdoor furnishings and other items — such as sculptures — that could become windborne missiles during a storm. Property owners also might lower the water levels in the swimming pool and place sandbags in front of outside doors, especially important in low-lying areas. Full-house generators were rarites in Palm before the sorms of 2004 and 2005 but are now commonplace; owners often give theirs a test-run in anticipation of electricity outages following a storm.

One critical item on the to-do list at Mar-a-Lago is installing hurricane shutters on windows and doors. That’s not the case with newer houses and commercial buildings — and many renovated older ones — where strict building codes have required the installation of impact-resistant glass in windows and doors. Those codes were substantially strengthened after Hurricane Andrew decimated entire neighborhoods when it tore through Miami-Dade County in 1992.

During Trump’s restoration project in the 1990s, Mar-a-Lago’s original windows were carefully preserved and restored, including a number of elaborately gilded ones in the main room, according to architect Tamara Peacock of The Tamara Peacock Co., based in Fort Lauderdale. With a specialty in historic preservation, Peacock oversaw the award-winning — and massive — project that turned the private home into a private club, while keeping its vintage charms intact.

“We reconditioned and kept the original windows,” Peacock said Wednesday in a phone interview from North Carolina, where her company has an office in Hendersonville. “The quality of the existing windows is part of the architectural heritage.”

In the decade after the club opened, Trump added other facilities — including a grand new ballroom and the Beach Club on Mar-a-Lago’s ocean parcel. Windows in those buildings meet the new codes for impact resistance.

Peacock, who was member No. 88 to join Trump’s club, said she still marvels at Mar-a-Lago’s original construction. “I’ve seen quite a number of historic houses during my career,” she said. “It’s the most well-built.”

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