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Condo reform, getting ready for hurricane season, Wildlife Thursday: the rare cigar orchid

Courtesy of Hong Liu
Hong Liu, right, is a professor in the International Center for Tropical Botany at Florida International University. She is leading research to learn about the cigar orchid population in South Florida and help preserve it.

Governor Ron DeSantis signs condo reform legislation. The forecast for the upcoming hurricane season. Plus, we're talking with a botany professor about a rare and beautiful plant that grows in South Florida – the Cigar Orchid.

On this Thursday, May 26, edition of Sundial:

Condo reform

Another hot topic issue was squeezed into a special session. This time, it’s not Disney. It’s condo reform.

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Lawmakers' had the goal at the outset of this week to address rising property insurance rates across Florida.

Unexpectedly, lawmakers added condo reform measures to their agenda. Those bills were later signed and made law by Governor Ron DeSantis.

These are reforms that were not agreed upon during the regular session earlier this year.

Calls for the state to look at and make laws around condo safety have been coming from condo owners and the families of victims after the collapse in Surfside last summer, which killed 98 people.

WLRN reporter Verónica Zaragovia has been closely following the aftermath of that tragedy, in court as well as the legislative proposals. She joined Sundial to discuss the details of these, now, new laws.

Condo reform
july 6 rescuers surfside.jpg

Getting ready for hurricane season

Forecasters came out with their official predictions for this year's hurricane season. They are saying it will be above-average...again.

This is the seventh consecutive season predicted to be busier than normal.

WLRN's Environment Reporter Jenny Staletovich joined Sundial to discuss this forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

She also described the dangers of something that scientists have been watching in the Gulf of Mexico – called a 'Loop Current'.

"It carries warm water, hundreds of feet deeper than surface water. We know surface water is what gets sucked up in a hurricane and what fuels it. And when a hurricane crosses that current, you know, it sucks off that hot water off the top. And then there's another layer underneath that's hot. And another, you know, and the further deep that hot water extends that can not only fuel a hurricane, but it put at risk rapid intensification," said Staletovich.

Getting ready for hurricane season

Wildlife Thursday: the rare cigar orchid

The Cigar Orchid is one of Florida’s most rare and endangered orchids.

Courtesy of Hong Liu
Cigar Orchid in South Florida.

It’s our topic for this Wildlife Thursday. Yes, plants are considered wildlife. According to Google, wildlife includes animals and flora––they’re living and breathing organisms.

These beautiful flowering plants have been sought after and illegally hunted for centuries. The cigar orchid is one of those that almost vanished, in part due to overharvesting.

Hong Liu is leading efforts to study the population of this orchid and help save it. She is a professor in the International Center for Tropical Botany at Florida International University and she joined Sundial to talk about her journey through Big Cypress National Preserve looking for this unique plant.

Wildlife Thursday: the rare cigar orchid

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Leslie Ovalle produces 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.