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Florida's biggest stories from 2022

Tropical Weather Florida
Rebecca Blackwell
Associated Press
Family friend Tony McDavid walks through the wreckage of the beachfront home of Nina Lavigna, as friends help recover salvageable belongings after half of her house collapsed following beach erosion from Hurricane Nicole, Nov. 12, 2022, in Wilbur-By-The-Sea.

Champlain Towers disaster leads to policy changes

In June, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium in the Miami suburb of Surfside, partially collapsed, leading to the deaths of 98 people. After the disaster, policies were changed across the state to ensure condos undergo strict inspections.

Reporter: Danny Rivero.

Black voters in Leon County analyze last election

Local political candidates made significant efforts to get Black voters to the polls in Leon County’s midterm election. But the turnout in predominantly Black precincts was low, which some say is part of a larger trend. One group is admitting failure and forging ahead.

Reporter: Margie Menzel.

Signups fall short for free health care program in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County offers free health care to thousands of residents with low incomes who can’t access Medicaid or other insurance, but it could be helping a lot more people. Some residents face barriers when trying to sign up for the service, and county workers are trying to address those issues.

Reporter: Stephanie Colombini.

New study finds more profound damage to Gulf of Mexico fish from BP oil spill

The risk from oil spills, coupled with warming waters caused by climate change, has scientists worried about one of the nation’s most bountiful fishing grounds. New research into the lasting effects of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico found that even low levels of oil can make one of the ocean’s most popular fish more likely to die within a week of exposure.

Reporter: Jenny Staletovich.

Leon County has one of the most segregated school districts in Florida, reports find

Earlier this year, a study from a progressive policy group found that Leon County Schools are the most segregated they’ve been since 1994. The findings of that study mirrored those from another done a few years ago by Florida State University’s LeRoy Collins Institute. That report found that Leon County has one of the most highly segregated school districts in the state.

Reporter: Lynn Hatter.

Hillsborough County’s transportation challenges

Last month, yet another one of Hillsborough County’s voter referendums to increase funding for road improvements and more failed to pass. That comes after a similar attempt in 2018 ended in the referendum being struck down as part of a lawsuit, leaving the millions of dollars collected in limbo.

Reporter: Sky Lebron.

Food banks and their partners see growing demand

Every other Saturday, a line of cars stretches across the grounds of the Shady Grove Number One Primitive Baptist Church in east Leon County for the church’s biweekly food distribution. Last month the line was 150 cars, and it grows by about 10 households with each distribution.

Reporter: Margie Menzel.

After Ian and Nicole, experts warn of health risks from blue-green algae

After major storms Ian and Nicole this fall, scientists are monitoring for toxic blue-green algae blooms in Florida’s waterways, including the St. Johns River. Climate change is creating ideal conditions for the blooms to grow and thrive, and doctors don’t fully understand their effect on our health.

Reporter: Brendan Rivers.

Sanibel Public Library reopens

On Dec. 1, the Sanibel Public Library reopened for the first time since Hurricane Ian walloped the island.

Reporter: Cary Barbor.

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Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.