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Silver Spring, MD, United States

News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/energy/

(Reuters) - Residents of southern states along the Mississippi River are bracing for the flooding that has swamped communities from the Ohio River Valley to eastern Oklahoma over the last week, causing thousands of evacuations and killing at least 31 people. Officials in Louisiana are checking levees daily, and Exxon Mobil Corp has decided to shut its 340,571 barrel-per-day refined products terminal in Memphis, Tennessee, as floodwaters threatened to inundate the facility just south of the city's downtown. "All that water's coming south and we have to be ready for it," Louisiana Lieutenant Governor-Elect Billy Nungesser told CNN. "It's a serious concern. It's early in the season. We usually don't see this until much later." Workers in southwestern Tennessee were preparing sandbags on Friday in hopes of limiting damage from the Mississippi when it crests at Memphis next week, state emergency management officials said. Officials were also examining levees, to make sure they would hold. "We're moving things up high and we've got our generators out and got some extra water," said Dotty Kirkendoll, a clerk at Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake, which feeds off the Mississippi. Flooding in the U.S. Midwest typically occurs in the spring as snowmelt swells rivers. Freezing temperatures that have followed the rare winter flooding have added to regional woes. Most of the deaths in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas have been caused by people driving into flooded areas after days of downpours. The dead included a central Illinois teenager whose body was recovered on Friday near where a truck in which he was riding was found the day before. Another teen from the truck was still missing. Authorities also continued searching on Friday for country singer Craig Strickland, who had gone duck hunting on an Oklahoma lake during stormy conditions. His friend, Chase Morland, was found dead on Monday. Twelve Illinois counties have been declared disaster areas, and Governor Bruce Rauner on Friday ordered Illinois National Guard troops into flooded areas in the southern part of the state to mitigate flood damage and help with evacuation efforts. The Mississippi is expected to crest at Thebes, in southern Illinois, at 47.5 feet (14 meters) on Sunday, more than 1.5 feet above the 1995 record, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. Flood warnings were also in effect on Friday for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, the Carolinas, Alabama and Kentucky, the NWS said, while major flooding was occurring on the Arkansas River and its tributaries in that state. Dozens have died in U.S. storms, which also brought unusual winter tornadoes and were part of a wild worldwide weather system over the Christmas holiday period that also saw severe flooding in Britain. More than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in areas bordering Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina after floods due to heavy summer rains caused by El Niño, authorities have said. Global weather dominated conversation on social media over the holiday season after the international climate deal in Paris. Particularly hard hit in the United States in recent days has been Missouri, which has suffered historic flooding. Close to St. Louis on Friday, the Mississippi, the second-longest river in the United States, was falling after reaching near-record heights, the NWS said. The Meramec River, which meanders near St. Louis and empties into the Mississippi, broke height records on Thursday, sending a deluge of water over its banks and forcing the closure of two major highways. Interstates 55 and 44 reopened on Friday, but many other roads remained closed in the St. Louis area, state officials said, causing extreme traffic congestion. Thousands of people evacuated from their homes earlier in the week were waiting to return to their communities and begin the process of cleaning up. Hundreds of structures have been damaged or destroyed, local officials said.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

The Mississippi River is pictured flowing at 800,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) measured by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in St. Louis, Missouri, December 31, 2015. Submerged roads and houses are seen after several days of heavy rain led to flooding, in an aerial view over Union, Missouri, December 29, 2015. Officials in Louisiana are checking levees daily, and Exxon Mobil Corp has decided to shut its 340,571 barrel-per-day refined products terminal in Memphis, Tennessee, as floodwaters threatened to inundate the facility just south of the city's downtown. "All that water's coming south and we have to be ready for it," Louisiana Lieutenant Governor-Elect Billy Nungesser told CNN. "It's a serious concern. It's early in the season. We usually don't see this until much later." Workers in Tennessee were preparing for the Mississippi River in Memphis to reach flood stage over the weekend. "We're moving things up high and we've got our generators out and got some extra water," said Dotty Kirkendoll, a clerk at Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake, which feeds off the Mississippi River. Flooding in the U.S. Midwest typically occurs in the spring as snowmelt swells rivers. Freezing weather in the region has added to the challenges as the waters have slowly started to recede from the St. Louis area. Most of the deaths from the rare winter floods have been caused by people driving into flooded areas after days of downpours. Two teenagers remain missing in southern Illinois after their truck was recovered late on Thursday night. Twelve Illinois counties have been declared disaster areas, and Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday ordered Illinois National Guard troops into flooded areas in the southern part of the state to mitigate flood damage and help with evacuation efforts. The Mississippi River is expected to crest at Thebes, in southern Illinois, at 47.5 feet (14 meters) on Sunday, more than 1-1/2 feet above the 1995 record, the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast. Flood warnings were also in effect on Friday for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, the Carolinas, Alabama and Kentucky, the NWS said, while major flooding was occurring on the Arkansas River and its tributaries in that state. Dozens have died in U.S. storms, which also brought unusual winter tornadoes and were part of a wild worldwide weather system over the Christmas holiday period that also saw severe flooding in Britain. More than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in areas bordering Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina after floods due to heavy summer rains caused by El Niño, authorities have said. Global weather dominated conversation on social media over the holiday season after the international climate deal in Paris. Particularly hard hit in the United States in recent days has been Missouri, which has suffered historic flooding. Close to St. Louis on Friday, the Mississippi River, the second-longest river in the United States, was falling after reaching near-record heights, the NWS said. The Meramec River, which meanders near St. Louis and empties into the Mississippi River, broke height records on Thursday, sending a deluge of water over its banks and forcing the closure of two major highways. Interstates 55 and 44 reopened on Friday, but many other roads remained closed in the St. Louis area, state officials said, causing extreme traffic congestion. Thousands of people evacuated from their homes earlier in the week were waiting to return to their communities and begin the process of cleaning up. Hundreds of structures have been damaged or destroyed, local officials said.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

Nixon visited Eureka and Cape Girardeau in eastern Missouri, where floodwaters caused widespread damage, and announced the federal government had approved his request to declare an emergency to help with the massive cleanup and recovery now under way. The governor described the scale of the flood damage as other worldly. "It's almost as if you're living on some other planet," he said, standing near a growing pile of debris in a park in Eureka, about an hour's drive west of St. Louis on the banks of the Meramec River, which flows into the Mississippi. "This is just a tiny fraction of the trail of destruction," the governor told reporters. The National Weather Service reported Mississippi floodwaters in Illinois and Missouri began cresting and receding on Saturday after thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes earlier in the week when the floods destroyed hundreds of structures. Retired Eureka homeowner Tracy Wolf, 58, spent the last three days trying to keep water away from the sides of his house with sandbags and out of his basement with vacuums. "Wednesday night it came in through the windows," Wolf said. "We slept three hours the first night ... I don't even know what day it is." Twelve counties have been declared disaster areas in Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner on Saturday toured several communities hard-hit by flooding. On Friday, he ordered Illinois National Guard troops into flooded areas to mitigate damage and help with evacuation. The floods claimed the lives of at least 31 people in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, most of whom drove into flooded areas after days of downpours. Authorities continued searching on Saturday for country singer Craig Strickland of the band Backroad Anthem. He had gone duck hunting on an Oklahoma lake during stormy conditions and his friend, Chase Morland, was found dead on Monday. In Thebes, Illinois, about 125 miles (201 km) downriver from St. Louis, the floodwater was expected to crest at 47.5 feet (14 m) on Sunday, more than 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) above the 1995 record, the NWS said. Major flooding continued in the state of Arkansas along the Arkansas River and its tributaries. Arkansas officials said they expected the river, which bisects the state from west to southeast before joining the Mississippi, to crest late on Saturday. Large swaths of parkland in Little Rock along the river were covered with floodwaters, and some homes and farmland in the Arkansas Delta were flooded on Saturday. Signs that floodwaters were headed south began to emerge as the NWS issued a major flooding designation on Saturday for Osceola, Arkansas, where the Mississippi River reached above 35 feet (10.7 m), well above the 28-foot flood stage. The NWS also on Saturday warned communities in the Southern Mississippi Valley region of potential flooding during the next 10 days. Officials in Louisiana are checking levees daily, and Exxon Mobil Corp has decided to shut its 340,571 barrel-per-day refined products terminal in Memphis, Tennessee, as floodwaters threatened to inundate the facility just south of the city's downtown. Workers in southwestern Tennessee prepared sandbags in hopes of limiting damage from the Mississippi when it crests at Memphis next week, state emergency management officials said.


News Article | June 14, 2015
Site: venturebeat.com

Up until about 12 months ago, we heard every week from new startups focused on big data. Entrepreneurs were patting themselves on the back about catching a huge tailwind of market momentum and seemed surprised that we were worried that the big data market space would become too crowded for most startups to do well. (See here and here for my recent articles on why crowded market spaces hold many underappreciated dangers for startups, and how to navigate them if you choose to go down that path.) We do not hear so much about big data from new startups anymore. Many big data startups were unable to reach escape velocity, and the number of bona fide successes is still quite small. Big data as The Next Big Thing — in which success was assured because it was The Next Big Thing — has been replaced by the Internet of Things (IoT) in the hype cycle. I want to use the IoT as an example of why Next Big Things can be uniquely dangerous places to focus a startup. I’ll highlight four key dangers; and while there are probably more, navigating even four simultaneously is the sort of choice an entrepreneur really needs to think about before going into a market segment. This is not to say that no IoT startups will have good exits. Rather, there will be a higher failure rate for startups in IoT than in other, less obvious big market spaces, simply due to the dangers of Next Big Things. Danger 1: The Law of Large Numbers. We often hear that the IoT will work at a scale never before achieved in human history. It will produce many opportunities because the numbers are so eye-popping big. Everybody quotes a Cisco study purporting to show that a trillion devices will connect to the IoT by the end of the decade. (Coincidentally, when big data was all the rage, the entrepreneurs all quoted a Cisco study showing the amazing amount of data being collected on storage every year. Of course, that study overlooked completely that a very large proportion of those bytes were video pixels, which is not as easily amenable to analytics as web session logs are.) As VCs, we are very inclined to want to dig into any quoted Large Number, especially when it comes from a firm that is not directly in the mainstream of that number. Do not try to impress us just by throwing a Large Number down on the table during a pitch. You should show us that you really understand why we should believe in that number and that you have an analytical edge that your competitors do not. Danger 2: Everyone has heard about The Next Big Thing already. Of course, this leads to scores of startups being funded that have all the attendant dangers I cited in my article on the risks of competing in a crowded market. Do you really want to be trying to raise a Series B or C for an IoT startup amidst the bones of tens of startups that have already failed? Danger 3: The Next Big Thing may not constitute a standalone market. The Internet of Things is a set of communication, computing, and storage protocols being grafted onto a multitudinous range of devices, such as cars, door locks, industrial platforms, factories, and the oft-referenced home sprinkler system, to name just a few. The specific danger here is that all these devices are their own unique markets, each with evolving product roadmaps at completely different rates, for completely different reasons. The networking industry moves faster than most. Grafting IoT networking onto a much slower evolving industry (e.g., home sprinkler systems) will not cause those industries to speed up. They will cause your IoT startup to slow down to a pace that cannot generate the high growth venture capital craves and rewards. I can think of at least four technology submarkets for IoT. They are the IoT sensors, the microprocessors and commutations chips enabling them to connect, the new software protocols that have to be created to scale to a trillion connected devices, and finally the cloud services to set up, manage, and analyze the data from the IoT. These four submarkets will have hugely different gross margin structures and capital needs. You have to pick one profitable enough to support a startup that deserves venture capital while hoping some other party is happy to take the low margin work. And that someone is happy to fund those development efforts. And you have to wait for the other guys to finish their parts before the whole ecosystem produces big economic rents because it has the “serial circuit” property. That is a hard thing to pull off successfully in the time frame venture capital cares about. Danger 4: A lack of compelling and convincing use cases. I have no doubt they are out there. If the IoT were working today at scale, we would have known within minutes where MH370 disappeared to in March of 2014. It is my personal opinion that most referenced IoT use cases are overlooking the tracking of high value assets that change position or quality rapidly over time in favor of the oft recycled “smart home” use cases. The former is compelling. The latter has been talked about for 20 years and still has no meaningful traction. The danger is that if IoT is talked about for too long before we see really compelling use cases, it will turn off the investment community. The emergence of Next Big Things seems to be a long lived fact of life, and so they are a constant danger to aspiring entrepreneurs. To point out two examples, think of Artificial Intelligence in the late 1980s and early 1990s and Solar Energy in the early part of the last decade. Both areas destroyed at least hundreds of millions of venture capital money and produced very few winners. Before committing several years of your life to a Next Big Thing, make sure you have thought through these dangers and have a clear plan to navigate around them. Jeff Thermond is a Venture Partner at XSeed Capital and has been involved in Information Technology and computer networking for over 30 years. Prior to XSeed, Jeff was Chief Executive Officer of Woven Systems, Chief Executive Officer of Epigram (which he sold to Broadcom for $498M in 1999), and Vice President and General Manager at 3Com. He currently sits on the Board of Directors at Lex Machina.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

As of Thursday morning, some 9.3 million people nationwide were in areas with flood warnings. That was down from 12.1 million on Wednesday and 17.7 million on Tuesday. At least 28 people have died in the U.S. Midwest since the weekend in the rare winter floods, mostly from driving into flooded areas after storms dropped up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain, officials said. Flooding in the Midwest usually comes in the spring as snowmelt swells rivers. While floodwaters from a number of rivers began to recede on Thursday around St. Louis, towns farther down the Mississippi hoped their levees would resist rising river levels. Southern states like Louisiana will be affected in coming days, the National Weather Service said. The days of downpours have pushed the Mississippi and its tributaries to record highs or levels not seen in decades, the NWS and local officials said. Workers in Tennessee were preparing on Thursday for the Mississippi River in Memphis to reach flood stage over the weekend. "We're moving things up high and we've got our generators out and got some extra water," said Dotty Kirkendoll, a clerk at Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake, which feeds off the Mississippi River. The Mississippi, the second-longest river in the United States, is expected to crest in the small town of Thebes, in southern Illinois, at 47.5 feet (14 meters) on Sunday, more than 1-1/2 feet above the 1995 record, the NWS said. Thebes village worker Bobby White said some sewage pumps were shut down to avoid overloading and that portable toilets had been supplied to affected areas. Most homes in the town, including his own, are on a hill and should be fine, he said. "Most of the people at the bottom of the hill moved out years ago," White said. The floodwaters have closed sections of major trucking routes Interstate 44 and Interstate 55, with the latter expected to partially reopen on Thursday evening, the Missouri Department of Transportation said. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a high water safety advisory on Thursday for more than 560 miles (900 km) of the Lower Mississippi River from Caruthersville, Missouri, to near Natchez, Mississippi. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency to prepare for flooding. "All that water's coming south and we have to be ready for it," Lieutenant Governor-Elect Billy Nungesser told CNN. "It's a serious concern. It's early in the season. We usually don't see this until much later." Parts of Missouri turned into a vast lake this week, with water up to the rooftops in some towns. Two rivers west of St. Louis crested at historic levels. Sewer plants were disabled and hundreds were forced from their homes. Mayor Kevin Coffey of Eureka, west of St. Louis, said his town had not seen such bad flooding in 150 years and some of its oldest businesses had been damaged. It was a bleak New Year's Eve for evacuated people. Tony Bellis, 51, had to leave his house in Arnold, Missouri, southwest of St. Louis, when the city shut off power in case of flooding. Bellis' home, where he runs his Smelly Pirate Firearms business, did not get flooded. But he spent two cold nights in his truck because he was nervous about people looting his property. "I haven't slept since Tuesday, because there was no electricity and I've been sleeping in my truck. I'm heading to Denny's for dinner, that's the big excitement," said Bellis, who moved to a hotel on Thursday. He said he lived through similar flooding in 1993. Tom Rolfes, owner of Tom's 100 West Irish Pub in Manchester, Missouri, said two people displaced by flooding in nearby Valley Park stopped in on Thursday for a drink and stayed for three or four. The Meramec River broke the previous record high by more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) on Thursday morning in Valley Park, but the levee was sound and the water level quickly dropped by more than 2 feet (0.6 meter) by the afternoon. "The water came up so damn fast. The day before yesterday, they were saying it is going to crest tonight, everything is fine, then yesterday they are saying everyone has got to get out of here," Rolfes said. "I have never seen it like this."

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