Greg Allen

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.

Allen was a key part of NPR's coverage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, providing some of the first reports on the disaster. He was on the front lines of NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, arriving in New Orleans before the storm arrived and filing on the chaos and flooding that hit the city as the levees broke. Allen's reporting played an important role in NPR's coverage of the aftermath and the rebuilding of New Orleans, as well as in coverage of the BP oil spill which brought new hardships to the Gulf coast.

More recently, he played key roles in NPR's reporting in 2018 on the devastation caused on Florida's panhandle by Hurricane Michael and on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

As NPR's only correspondent in Florida, Allen covered the dizzying boom and bust of the state's real estate market, as well as the state's important role in the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections. He's produced stories highlighting the state's unique culture and natural beauty, from Miami's Little Havana to the Everglades.

Allen has been with NPR for three decades as an editor, executive producer, and correspondent.

Before moving into reporting, Allen served as the executive producer of NPR's national daily live call-in show, Talk of the Nation. Prior to that, Allen spent a decade at NPR's Morning Edition. As editor and senior editor, he oversaw developing stories and interviews, helped shape the program's editorial direction, and supervised the program's staff.

Before coming to NPR, Allen was a reporter with NPR member station WHYY-FM in Philadelphia from 1987 to 1990. His radio career includes working an independent producer and as a reporter/producer at NPR member station WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Allen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977, with a B.A. cum laude. He began his career at WXPN-FM as a student, and there he was a host and producer for a weekly folk music program that included interviews, features, and live and recorded music.

The last cruise ship carrying passengers finally docked this week. On Tuesday, the Costa Deliziosa disembarked passengers in Genoa, Italy, allowing more than 1,500 people to return home after a 113-day voyage.

Under an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it will be another three months — at least — until cruise ships will once again be able to sail from U.S. ports. In the meantime, cruise lines are dealing with a host of lawsuits filed by passengers and crew who accuse the companies of negligence in exposing them to the coronavirus.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Last night, as President Trump announced new federal guidelines on reopening the country, he said it's governors who will lead the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Jacksonville, Fla., Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday that parks and beaches in Duval County would reopen Friday at 5 p.m. with certain restrictions. The mayor said restrictions would allow "essential activities" only, as defined in an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Those "essential activities" include walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing, as long as they're done within social distancing guidelines. Sunbathing is still prohibited.

The structure of a compensation fund for victims of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein now rests with the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home.

U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George went to court in January to block the executors of Epstein's estate from setting up a fund to compensate his alleged victims. Dozens of women have accused Epstein of sexually abusing them at his estates in Palm Beach, Fla., and in the Virgin Islands. Epstein owned two islands in the U.S. territory and lived in a lavish estate on one of them.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

With an election year pandemic, mail-in ballots may become an increasingly popular way to vote, especially in states like Florida that allow any voter to use them.

The nation's counties say they are facing major challenges meeting the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments are seeing a steep rise in the number of people seeking help from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Updated at 2 a.m. ET Tuesday

In New York City, as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues increasing, officials say the city may have to temporarily bury some of the dead at a public cemetery in Long Island Sound.

New York City Councilman Mark Levine says that if the death toll doesn't level off soon, the city will likely start doing "temporary interment." New York City's data indicate that total deaths in the city averaged nearly 150 per day before the pandemic. On one day recently, the city reported that 806 people died in a single day.

The fast-growing number of cases of COVID-19 around the country is also bringing a surge in the number of deaths. In New York City alone, the death toll is in the thousands and rising steeply every day.

There, and in places such as Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans, funeral directors are struggling to meet the increased demand. Joseph Lucchese, who owns and directs a funeral home in the Bronx, says it's unlike anything he's ever seen and it's dispelled any doubts he once had about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida has now joined the list of states that are ordering residents to remain in their homes for all but essential activities to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement at an afternoon briefing. It was just a few hours after he spoke to President Trump. DeSantis said he's issuing an executive order that will direct "all Floridians to limit movements and personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or essential activities."

People in coronavirus hotspots are being told not to travel to other parts of the country, for fear they'll bring the infection with them. Those who do so anyway might find themselves in a forced quarantine.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that he had authorized law enforcement officers to begin setting up checkpoints in the state's panhandle to screen people coming from the New Orleans area.

"There's a fear as New Orleans becomes more of a hotspot, that you could have an influx of people into the Florida panhandle from Louisiana," DeSantis said.

The Coast Guard is overseeing medical evacuations of crew members from two cruise ships off of Miami. The ships, the Costa Magica and the Costa Favolosa, don't have any passengers on board. As many as 13 crew members on the two ships are being transported ashore on small boats and taken to area hospitals. According to Carnival, the parent company of the Costa line, as many as 30 crew members on the two ships have flu-like symptoms. According to a spokesperson with the Port of Miami, those being transported ashore have respiratory symptoms consistent with pneumonia and bronchitis.

In Florida, local officials are trying to decide whether to allow a cruise ship to dock that has dozens of passengers and crew aboard possibly infected with the coronavirus. The Holland America ship, Zaandam, left Valparaiso, Chile over the weekend and is headed to Ft. Lauderdale where it expects to arrive March 30.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

A drive-through site to test for the coronavirus has been set up for golf carts at a massive retirement community in central Florida. More than 125,000 people live in The Villages, north of Orlando. Because the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was concerned about getting protections in place for the senior citizens who live there.

Updated on March 16 at 8:42 p.m. ET

Long before condominiums lined the shoreline in Miami Beach, before air conditioning, many thousands of years before Columbus, people lived along Florida's coastline.

Archaeologists say the remains of their settlements are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

In Florida's Palm Beach County researchers are planning how best to protect and preserve the ancient sites most at risk from rising seas.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Florida is planning a major expansion of its highways with a series of toll roads that would open new parts of the state to development.

Exactly where the roads will go hasn't been announced yet, but opposition to the highways is growing in rural areas such as Jefferson County in North Florida. Mike Willis' family has lived there since before Florida became a state. He likes to refer to it as "the other Florida."

"Most people think of Florida as palm trees, white sandy beaches," he says. "We have rolling clay hills and beautiful pine forests."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Wisteria Island, created by the U.S. Navy nearly a century ago, has been left untouched for decades, except by boaters and campers who make their homes there. It's a valuable piece of real estate that's now at the center of a court battle between a developer and the federal government who both say they own it.

Officials in Florida are considering legislation aimed at curbing the high number of deaths on the tracks of a new passenger rail line. Brightline is a privately owned rail service operating trains between Miami and West Palm Beach. In its first two years, more than 40 people have been killed by Brightline trains on tracks and at rail crossings, earning it a designation as the nation's deadliest railroad.

For three decades, Georgia and Florida have been battling over how to share a precious resource: water. Georgia has it, and Florida, which is downstream, says it's not getting its fair share. The dispute is once again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Florida wants the justices to cap Georgia's water use. But a court-appointed special master recently rejected that idea.

More than 6 million people depend on water that starts at Lake Lanier, a reservoir northeast of Atlanta. It generates hydropower as its water is released from a dam into the Chattahoochee River.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

With the holidays approaching, it's the time of year for families to come together and share their traditions. But which traditions?

On Key Largo, to walk to Paul Butler's house it's best to wear rubber boots. "Did you see the 'No Wake' sign?" he asks. The recently installed "No Wake" signs are for drivers, not boaters.

There are several inches of water on his street and others in this low-lying neighborhood. Butler has lived here 25 years and seen this kind of flooding before.

"It used to happen once a year during king tide, but it would only last for like a week or 10 days," he says. "This year, it's been going on for about 75 days, I think." Other neighbors put it at 80 days and counting.

In Florida, Nestlé is taking heat from environmental groups and others concerned about the future of one of the state's most endangered natural resources — its freshwater springs. Florida has more than a thousand freshwater springs, which provide drinking water, important natural habitat and places for recreation. Nestlé wants to begin taking more than a million gallons of water each day from Ginnie Springs, a popular destination in north Florida for swimming, canoeing and tubing.

In Florida, more than two invasive species get established every month, brought in through cargo or by visitors. But researchers are making progress in the battle against one major pest: the Brazilian peppertree.

On a cattle ranch near Fort Pierce, a team from the University of Florida recently released 1,500 tiny insects called thrips, or Pseudophilothrips ichini.

"That is the biological control for the Brazilian pepper," Kate Rotindo said.

Florida's Senate voted Wednesday to confirm the removal of Scott Israel from his position as sheriff of Broward County. In January, days after being sworn in, Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel, charging him with incompetence and dereliction of duty for actions before and after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last year.

A year after Hurricane Michael slammed Florida's panhandle, communities there are struggling, and rebuilding is slow. With housing devastated, local governments are being forced to raise property tax rates to pay for high recovery costs, and a severe housing shortage has caused many, to temporarily leave the area.

A high school marching band greeted shoppers and paraded through the store when a Winn-Dixie supermarket reopened recently. Businesses have been slow to reopen since Hurricane Michael, in part because there aren't enough workers.

A special master appointed by the Florida Senate is recommending reinstatement for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the sheriff in January, citing the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people died.

The secretary of veterans affairs has told several members of Congress that he's evicting them from offices they've been using in VA hospitals. The House members use the offices to meet with vets and discuss everything from their eligibility for benefits to the quality of the care they receive.

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