Greg Allen | WYPR

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 human interest features. 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 frontlines of NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, arriving in New Orleans before the storm hit 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.

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

Allen has spent more than three decades in radio news, the first ten as a reporter in Ohio and Philadelphia and the last as an editor, producer and reporter at NPR.

Before moving into reporting, Allen served as the executive producer of NPR's national daily live call-in show, Talk of the Nation. As executive producer he handled the day-to-day operations of the program as well as developed and produced remote broadcasts with live audiences and special breaking news coverage. He was with Talk of the Nation from 2000 to 2002.

Prior to that position, Allen spent three years as a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition, developing stories and interviews, shaping the program's editorial direction, and supervising the program's staff. In 1993, he started a four year stint as an editor with Morning Edition just after working as Morning Edition's swing editor, providing editorial and production supervision in the early morning hours. Allen also worked for a time as the editor of NPR's National Desk.

Before coming to NPR, Allen was a reporter with NPR member station WHYY-FM in Philadelphia from 1987 to 1990.

His radio career includes serving as the producer of Freedom's Doors Media Project — five radio documentaries on immigration in American cities that was distributed through NPR's Horizons series — frequent freelance work with NPR, Monitor Radio, Voice of America, and WHYY-FM, and work as a reporter/producer of NPR member station WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Allen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977, with a B.A. cum laude. As a student and after graduation, Allen worked at WXPN-FM, the public radio station on campus, as a host and producer for a weekly folk music program that included interviews, features, live and recorded music.

Coast Guard Petty officer Jake DiPaola arrived on St. John in the Virgin Islands about a week after Hurricane Maria. In Coral Bay, on the island's eastern end, he says the marina was a mess.

"There were two sailboats right here," he says, while standing on the water's edge. "The mangroves across the water were shoulder-to-shoulder sailboats completely. And all of those got hauled out."

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We're going to go now to NPR's Greg Allen, our reporter who's been covering this story from Miami.

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(Inaudible) it up from here. Hi, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

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Democrats say the results of a special election in Florida Tuesday show signs of a building national momentum heading into the midterm elections this fall. Margaret Good won in Florida's 72nd House District, defeating Republican James Buchanan — the son of another Florida congressman, Vern Buchanan. The district, in Sarasota County on Florida's Gulf Coast, has been consistently Republican.

The opioid epidemic has cost the U.S. more than a trillion dollars since 2001, according to a new study, and may exceed another $500 billion over the next three years.

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More than three months after President Trump declared the nation's opioid crisis a public health emergency, activists and health care providers say they're still waiting for some other action.

The Trump administration quietly renewed the declaration recently. But it has given no signs it's developing a comprehensive strategy to address an epidemic that claims more than 115 lives every day. The president now says that to combat opioids, he's focused on enforcement, not treatment.

At the beach in Magens Bay, St. Thomas, the party is back on. It's one of the Virgin Islands' most popular beaches and by noon on a recent weekday, it's already busy. Reggae-inspired hip hop is playing as pickup trucks converted into taxis bring visitors direct from the cruise ship docks. Chris Dimopoulos runs the bar, serving up margaritas, rum punches and something called the painkiller.

"We're seeing a recovery slowly but surely. Every day gets a little bit better," he says.

When Hurricane Irma's high winds ripped through the Virgin Islands, the islands' radio and television stations were among the first casualties. Tanya Marie-Singh, who heads Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting, says her staff shut down their television and radio signals a few hours before the storm hit. It was nearly two and half weeks before they could get WTJX-FM, a public station that carries NPR, back on the air.

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Grizelle González is an ecologist who's worked at El Yunque National Forest for 25 years — first as a student and then as a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service. The 46-year-old has a deep attachment to the tropical rainforest. Even now, she gets emotional when she recalls what El Yunque looked like after Hurricane María hit the island on Sept. 20.

"It was completely defoliated," she says, tears welling in her eyes. "The canopy was completely gone. It was almost like a desert landscape."

Tania El Khoury splits her time between London and Beirut, where she helped found an artists' collective. Three years ago, moved by stories she was hearing about the Syrian uprising, she created an interactive work called "Gardens Speak." It grew out of an image she saw of a mother digging a grave for her son in her home garden because public funerals had become too dangerous.

For coastal communities from Florida to Texas, this year's hurricane season may be a preview of what's to come. Scientists say with climate change, in the future we're likely to see more severe hurricanes and heavier rain events. In addition, as ice sheets melt, sea levels are rising faster, flooding low-lying coastal areas such as Miami.

In Caguas, south of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jared Haley is fighting a daily battle at C-Axis, the medical device manufacturer where he's the general manager. The power has been out at his plant for nearly three months, since Hurricane Irma.

Operating on emergency generators, the plant restarted operations last month and, Haley says, is delivering all its work on schedule. But he's not happy now with the plant's condition. Walking into his factory, he laments, "This shop used to look like a doctor's office."

These days, Puerto Rico's monumental power restoration effort involves helicopters dropping 100-foot towers into the mountains and a "big dance" of crews, equipment and expertise from several agencies and companies. But progress has been slow and that dance has been a complicated and tedious one on the island, which is experiencing the largest outage in U.S. history.

And sometimes it's one light forward, two lights back.

It's a muggy early afternoon in Morovis, a mountain community about 40 miles from San Juan. Army Reserve soldiers led by Captain Angel Morales are hard at work handing out cases of water and ready-to-eat meals from a flatbed truck. Hundreds of people line up in the parking lot of the Jaime Collazo High School.

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Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history," Trump said, adding, "it's just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort."

"We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic," he said.

Julio Alicea's 8-month-old granddaughter Aubrey came down with severe respiratory problems a day after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico. "We are very lucky," Alicea says. "The hospital is open and we live nearby." Aubrey's cough turned intense, and when she started vomiting, Alicea says, he rushed her to the hospital at 4 a.m.

She didn't have any respiratory issues before the hurricane, Alicea says, sitting on a blue bench outside San Jorge Children's Hospital in San Juan. His 3-year-old granddaughter Angelica is keeping him company.

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The rain has let up in Houston, but getting in and out of the city is still a difficult task. Houston's two main airports reopened Wednesday with limited service. But many roads are flooded, and some bridges have been damaged.

Since Saturday, when both the airports shut down, thousands of flights in and out the city have been canceled. Up to now, at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the runways were open only for limited operations and humanitarian flights.

On Friday, three well-known charities — the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen — announced they are canceling plans for fundraising events at President Trump's Palm Beach country club, Mar-a-Lago.

The three joined a growing list of nonprofits that have severed ties with the exclusive, Trump-owned resort. Others include the Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society.

SeaWorld and animal welfare advocates are mourning the passing of one of the park's oldest killer whales. Kasatka was euthanized at SeaWorld San Diego on Tuesday evening after suffering from a respiratory infection.

Kasatka was a matriarch of the orca pod in San Diego. She had been captured in the wild off the coast of Iceland in 1978. SeaWorld says she had four calves, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Public health officials and others concerned about the nation's opioid crisis are hailing President Trump's decision to declare it a national emergency. A Presidential commission on opioids said in its interim report that an emergency declaration would allow the administration to take immediate action and send a message to Congress that more funding is needed.

Delray Beach's charming downtown, palm trees and waves attract locals, vacationers and, increasingly, drug users who come here to try to get off opioids. In some parts of the small Florida community, there's a residential program for people recovering from addiction — a sober living house or "sober home" — on nearly every block. Sometimes two or three.

A White House commission released a report this week on America's opioid crisis with an urgent recommendation — that President Trump declare it a national emergency.

Keith Flaugh is a retired IBM executive living in Naples, Fla., and a man with a mission. He describes it as "getting the school boards to recognize ... the garbage that's in our textbooks."

Flaugh helped found Florida Citizens' Alliance, a conservative group that fought unsuccessfully to stop Florida from signing on to Common Core educational standards.

The Trump Organization is asking the federal government for special visas to hire scores of foreign workers for two of President Trump's private clubs in Florida — the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

Forecasters say the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins Thursday, could bring "above-normal" storm activity. Residents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are making sure they have supplies and plans in place if a storm hits.

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