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Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Ways to Connect

The 927th Air Refueling Wing

Thousands of American military personnel are now assigned to the Hurricane Maria relief effort. Among them is the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base.

Air Force Major Gavril Goodman was on one of the first humanitarian evacuation flights that landed in St. Croix five days after the Category 5 hurricane destroyed the island's power grid.

DeVaughn Putna Farrington / Facebook St. Croix Hurricane Maria Check In page

The U.S. Coast Guard opened the seaports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico over the weekend, but only for daylight operations at many sites.

Getting supplies onto the islands and people off after Hurricane Maria devastated the region continues to be a challenge.

Tech Sgt Peter Dean / U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force is helping to evacuate critically ill and injured patients from three Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. One of the first evacuation flights left from Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base Sunday with a crew of Air Force Reservists from the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

Residents in cities and counties across Tampa Bay heeded the call to place storm debris on the curbs of their homes. But now, some are worrying the debris still hasn't been collected.

Caleb Anduze / Facebook Hurricane Maria St. Croix Check In Group

Before Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on St. Croix, the island was serving as the hub for recovery efforts from earlier storms in other U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

A resident of St. Croix for more than three decades, Ditty Layton, survived Maria inside her home on the East End. Layton said, remarkably, she has not lost cell phone service and was reaching out to friends in Florida.

Salvation Army

It’s been more than a week since Hurricane Irma.

Yet many smaller communities in Florida’s rural counties are still suffering and need basic resources, according to a disaster relief expert with the Salvation Army.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The tragic deaths of eight nursing home residents after Irma knocked out their air conditioning has prompted the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs to offer up available beds at federal VA Community Living Centers.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF Public Media

Hurricane Irma has left the state. Now, the cleanup begins. From downed tree limbs to damaged household items like appliances and furniture. Every city and county has its own guidelines for pick-up.

Debris collection, rescheduled trash pickup and guidelines on how to handle the debris are listed below. Be sure to check what your service provider or local government requires.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Port Tampa Bay reopened to vessel traffic Tuesday at 2 p.m. And 10 ships are scheduled to unload more than 10 million gallons of gasoline in the next 48 hours for the gas starved state.

Too much water is typically the problem when storms blow through Tampa Bay. But for a few brief hours Sunday, the bay's fortunes were reversed as Hurricane Irma's counterclockwise winds blew the water out.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, all Tampa residents are under a mandatory curfew, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced during a late morning news conference carried live on Facebook.

He said the curfew will be indefinite or until a neighborhood is deemed safe from downed power lines, overturned trees and storm debris.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It seemed an obvious solution to Michael Oded, who was asked at the last minute Friday to get sandbags and secure his friend’s Davis Islands home from flooding.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Only  ”mission essential” personnel  are on duty at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base through Monday. All others and their families have been ordered to evacuate the base ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Samara Sodos / Port Tampa Bay

Supplying gasoline to evacuating Floridians is a top priority according to the governor. 

That has meant an accelerated tempo at Port Tampa Bay, which provides the gas, aviation fuel, diesel and oil to Central Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Hurricane Irma evacuations now involve more than South Florida residents taking to the roads.

The 6th Air Mobility Wing at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base is temporarily evacuating its KC-135 refueling planes to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

Stetson University

Veterans’ issues were among the few things Congress agreed upon – before taking their August recess. That included senators confirming three new judges to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to reduce the massive backlog of disputed veterans’ claims.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The six-month long 2017 Hurricane Season was “kicked off” across the state by public figures preaching preparedness: buy supplies, know your evacuation level and route and sign up for local, automated hurricane alerts.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A three-day, tax-free holiday on hurricane supplies starts today and runs through Sunday. Legislators hope it will serve as an incentive for Floridians to stock up on supplies like batteries, gas containers, flashlights and portable generators costing $750 or less.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The American Homefront Project talks with service members and veterans about who they're remembering this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day can be especially difficult for relatives of service members who died by suicide. They often feel stigmatized, even around other military families.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There are a variety of ways to honor the fallen this Memorial Day, several are listed below. Orginally, it was called Decoration Day, named after the practice of families and citizens who “decorated” the Civil War graves of fallen troops with wreaths and flowers.

Library of Congress / Veterans History Project

As Memorial Day approaches, the Library of Congress is calling on families and friends of those who served in uniform to help preserve their stories.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The teenagers graduating this spring were still in diapers when terrorists attacked the United States September 11, 2001. Yet, many of the high school graduates are stepping up to join the military despite the ongoing "war against terror" and recent tensions in Syria and North Korea.

U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs

It was approved almost three years ago, and finally, construction could begin soon on a 120-bed VA nursing home in St. Lucie County. 

The Roldan Family

Despite the growing number of women in the military, the Pentagon does not track how many deployed women are also mothers. It also doesn’t count the number of deployed fathers.

But being a parent and simultaneously serving your country can create challenges especially when deployed.

U.S. Air Force

Sonic booms surprised residents across central Florida  Sunday morning due to the landing of a top-secret military space plane at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The X-37B is a classified, un-crewed Air Force space plane that touched down at Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility. Not much is known about the 29 foot long robotic spacecraft, its space missions or what it delivered into space.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A new administrator at the Bay Pines Healthcare System is being credited by veterans for resolving a paperwork snafu that had some low income VA clients being billed for medications they should have gotten for free.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A specialized institution of higher learning has opened a new, permanent home at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.

The Joint Special Operations University, or JSOU, has been educating special forces for 16 years, but it is now housed in an airy, glass and steel-framed building with a sunny courtyard.

U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs

The sunshine state was well represented at the White House Wednesday as President Trump signed a bill extending and improving the Veterans Choice Act which allows veterans to seek medical care outside the VA system under certain conditions.

Southwest Florida Water Management District

Camping is usually a popular recreation over the Easter holiday. But the state’s wildfire emergency could mean a change of plans for some.

All of the campgrounds managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s 16-county region are closed until further notice because of threat of wildfires.

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