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Lawmakers attempt to fix property insurance issues; baby formula shortage and sinking a ship… intentionally

Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
Michael Conroy
/
AP
Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

We look at the ongoing property insurance crisis in Florida and what lawmakers are trying to do to fix it. How the national baby formula is affecting families in South Florida. And an intentional shipwreck that’s helping coral reefs thrive.

On this Monday, May 23, edition of Sundial:

Lawmakers attempt to fix property insurance issues

Homeowners in Florida are paying the price in this property insurance crisis.

From significant rate increases to canceled policies that could lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.

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State lawmakers are meeting for a special session this week, where they are introducing a number of proposals to help homeowners and relieve the insurance industry.

"Industry observers have expressed skepticism that the legislation will make a significant difference on skyrocketing homeowners’ rates — at least any time soon. But this week’s legislation is the most substantive in years," writes Lawrence Mower, the Tallahassee correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times.

He joined Sundial to discuss what residents and homeowners should know ahead of this session.

Lawmakers attempt to fix property insurance issues
insurance.jpg

Baby formula shortage

A national shortage of baby formula has parents and caregivers in South Florida anxious about being able to feed their babies.

This crisis had been looming for months. Nearly half of all formulas are out of stock.

It’s a mix of pandemic supply chain issues and the closure of a big production plant due to a voluntary recall earlier this year.

The federal government is working to increase production. The first overseas shipment of formula arrived in the U.S. yesterday. Still, it’s unclear when things will get better.

Even though many families are having difficulties finding milk for their babies, local hospitals haven’t felt the brunt of this shortage.

“We have an adequate supply at this time to meet our patients' needs. We are currently not experiencing a formula shortage,” said a statement from the Jackson Health System.

The CEO of Holtz Children's Hospital with Jackson Health in Miami, Joanne Ruggiero, whose background is as a maternity nurse, joined Sundial to discuss advice for parents during this time.

“We always worry about improper nutrition for children because nutrition is such an important part of brain functionality and growth for the baby,” said Ruggiero. “[We’ve] been encouraging our parents to reach out to their pediatricians early on if they are really foreseeing any challenges with getting the formula that their baby is on.”

Katherine Quirk in Broward County noticed the need for crowdsourcing information to help parents find the formula they need for their babies. She started a local Facebook group for parents to help each other during this stressful time.

“When there are mothers or senior citizens or people in general in crisis, if somebody else can reach out a hand, whatever that hand might look like, in our case it’s virtual and it’s social media and it’s a [Facebook] group. I think it feels good for people out there to be able to help,” said Quirk on Sundial.

Mothers and parents post about their need for specific formulas, leftover cans they might have to give away and tips for finding infant milk at local stores.

Baby formula shortage
Baby formula is offered for sale at a grocery store in Chicago on Jan. 13.

Shipwreck

It's been 20 years since a retired naval ship was intentionally sunk in the Keys.

The Spiegel Grove was submerged in 2002 to create a new coral reef for divers—coral thrives on the steel structures that ships provide. It's much larger than any natural reefs in the Keys.

Rob Bleser is a longtime diver in the Keys— and he recently dove back down to the shipwreck to commemorate the anniversary. He joined Sundial to talk about that experience and share what it's like down there. He also explained how Hurricane Dennis helped position the shipwreck in 2005.

To mark the occasion, divers recently put a commemorative plaque on the Spiegel Grove, sponsored by a group of Navy veterans who had served on it back when it was a functioning ship, according to the Associated Press.

You can read— and see pictures— of divers on their journey to see The Spiegel Grove, here.

Sinking a ship…intentionally
Navy Sunk Ship Key Largo AP.jpeg

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Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the lead producer behind WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, currently leads the WLRN Newsroom as Interim Managing Editor. Prior to transitioning to leadership from production, Caitie reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News for four years.