natural disasters

Updated 9:20 p.m. ET

Tornadoes gashed through central Tennessee early Tuesday, with the worst damage concentrated in and around Nashville. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says at least 24 people were killed across four counties, and there are fears the death toll could climb as first responders continue to search for victims.

John High has diabetes, which led to his leg being amputated below the knee two years ago. He's been using a wheelchair since then, and hasn't gotten used to having to work out solutions to everyday problems — such as getting in and out of the shower in the small rental house he shares with his son in Norman, Okla. But when he hears a tornado siren blaring out its high-pitched warning he feels a spasm of fear and dread. In this situation, he's on his own.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island.

The tranche of money, more than $8 billion, is allocated through a Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster recovery fund. It was supposed to be released months ago to help the island rebuild in the wake of devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes touched down in Miami County Saturday night.

Forecasters say the first twister, rated an EF-Zero with winds up to 80 miles per hour, hit Troy just after 10 p.m., leaving damage concentrated mostly near Troy High School and downtown. 

National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Hogue says winter tornadoes are rare, but he says this weekend’s weather conditions were just right to produce the storm with damaging winds. 

A volcano south of the Philippine capital has sent a massive plume of ash and steam spewing miles into the sky and pushed red-hot lava out of its crater, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and the closure of Manila's airport.

In a matter of hours on Sunday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level for Taal Volcano to Level 4 from Level 1 — with Level 5 being the highest. It warned that a larger "explosive eruption" could occur within hours or days.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

Thousands of people in Puerto Rico still don't have permanent shelter three days after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake walloped the Caribbean island, killing one man and injuring nine people. Millions still don't have electricity.

The quake has displaced an estimated 2,000 people, according to the humanitarian organization Direct Relief.

A pair of massive bushfires in southeastern Australia has merged into a "megafire" engulfing some 2,300 square miles — a single blaze more than three times as large as any known fire in California.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the city of Guayanilla and nearby areas in southern Puerto Rico on Monday morning, shoving brick houses off their foundations, knocking over walls and collapsing a local landmark: Punta Ventana, a natural rock archway that the ocean's waves had carved over centuries.

"Today our icon remains in the memory of all," Guayanilla press official Glidden López Torres said on Facebook.

Nearly six months after the Memorial Day tornadoes, hundreds of people who sought federal disaster assistance continue to wait for final word on their applications. 

According to the latest Federal Emergency Management Agency data, 336 people across the 11-county disaster zone who applied for assistance are still working their way through the appeals process.

FEMA has already paid out more than $4.6 million in Individual Assistance grants. 

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

California officials report progress in their battle against wildfires, even as new dangers arise from powerful winds.

"Over the past week, more than 300 blazes have broken out in California," member station KQED reported, "but so far, there have been no fatalities linked to the Northern California fires."

Updated at 1:50 a.m. ET on Wednesday

Firefighters knew their respite would not last in Northern California.

Updated at 2:15 a.m. ET Tuesday

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says at least five people have died in the Abaco Islands, where Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday as "the strongest hurricane in modern records" to hit the archipelago.

Minnis described the hurricane as a "historic tragedy" that's brought "unprecedented and expensive" devastation to Abaco.

Greene County officials are continuing to contend with massive quantities of organic debris left behind by an EF3 tornado that touched down in the area on Memorial Day.

Nearly 150,000 cubic yards of debris has been removed from Greene County properties since the storm hit -- that's enough to fill about five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson says the debris is being stored at two sites: the county’s environmental services center and Cemex Reserve, a public park that contains wetland areas.

Updated at 5:10 a.m. ET Thursday

Hurricane Dorian is "expected to become a major hurricane on Friday," according to the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds at 5 a.m. ET Thursday were 85 mph — a Category 1 hurricane — with higher gusts, according to the center's most recent update. Dorian was about 150 miles north northwest of Puerto Rico, moving about 13 mph toward the northwest.

Homeowners and renters affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes are invited to two special recovery events this week. The so-called Housing Recovery Resource Fairs aim to connect anyone still struggling with storm-related housing issues with assistance from FEMA, the United States Small Business Administration, state and county agencies.

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