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    The mother of a U.S. diplomat who fell ill after suspected "health attacks" in China is speaking out, sharing her family's harrowing story with NBC News in hopes of raising awareness about the potential danger facing American diplomats and other workers around the world. 

    Laura Hughes, an Air Force veteran, says her daughter Catherine Werner is struggling with the effects of traumatic brain injury after experiencing strange sounds and sensations at her apartment in Guangzhou, where Werner was a foreign trade officer until being medevac'd out earlier this year. 

    She's calling on the State Department to do more to solve the mystery that has eluded investigators since U.S. diplomats and spies starting getting sick in Cuba in late 2016.

    "I do not believe that our military, our diplomats around the world or here at home are safe," Hughes told NBC News. "Because this weapon system is creating havoc."

    The Cuban and Chinese embassies in Washington did not respond to NBC News inquiries about the Werner case.

    Photo Credit: Kelvin Chan/AP, File

    This June 7, 2018, file photo shows a man carry an umbrella past the U.S. consulate building in Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province after the United States evacuated several workers over medical testing that revealed they might have been affected by unexplained health incidents that have hurt U.S. personnel in Cuba and China.This June 7, 2018, file photo shows a man carry an umbrella past the U.S. consulate building in Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong province after the United States evacuated several workers over medical testing that revealed they might have been affected by unexplained health incidents that have hurt U.S. personnel in Cuba and China.

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    Facebook isn't working for some users Tuesday morning, the second big outage in about a week, and Instagram users were reporting issues as well. 

    The outage appeared to hit around 8 a.m. ET. For some users, the Facebook page wouldn't load and other functionality wasn't working.

    The website outage-tracking site Downdetector reported a spike in reports of problems with Facebook starting before 8 a.m. ET, and reports of outages continued through 10:30 a.m. Instagram users began reporting issues to the site around the same time. Facebook owns Instagram.

    NBC has reached out to Facebook for comment. It tweeted, "We know some people are having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible."

    Facebook's platform was healthy since Oct. 23 but has experienced "degraded performance" for several hours Tuesday, according to the site, which had been inaccessible for at least one user Tuesday morning.

    Facebook also gave users problems on Monday, Nov. 12. just 1 p.m. ET. Users started to report that it was back online about 30 mintues later. A Facebook page that tracks the platform's status said it was healthy after having been inaccessible.

    Photo Credit: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, File

    Facebook and Instagram logos are seen on mobile phones.Facebook and Instagram logos are seen on mobile phones.

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    Some members of the Saudi royal family are pushing to prevent the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, from becoming king, three sources close to the royal court told Reuters.

    The dozens of royals who want to see a change in the line of succession recognize that King Salman, 82, is unlikely to turn against his favorite son. But amid international uproar over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, they are discussing the possibility of Salman's younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, taking the throne after Salman's death.

    Prince Ahmed would have the support of members of the family, security forces and some Western powers, one source said.

    Prince Ahmed could not be reached for comment, and officials in Riyadh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Photo Credit: Saudi Press Agency/AP

    In this photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman gives his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.In this photo provided by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman gives his annual policy speech in the ornate hall of the consultative Shura Council, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will visit Border Field State Park Tuesday, where United States troops are reinforcing the border due to thousands of Central American migrants on the southern side.

    The seaside park where Nielsen will speak sits at the very southwest corner of the United States, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and Mexico's Playa de Tijuana to the south. 

    For nearly two weeks, thousands of migrants have made their way by foot and bus from the southern border of Mexico to Tijuana, where many are living in overcrowded shelters until they can seek asylum from the United States. 

    In response to the caravan of migrants, the Department of Defense sent about 5,800 active duty, reserve and National Guard forces, including 1,100 Camp Pendleton-based Marines, to span the Southern border to assist CBP.

    Nielsen will on Tuesday brief the media on these efforts to secure the border. 

    U.S. Marine Lt. Dustin Pavlick said his platoon of about 45 Marines was working on "construction and reinforcing this obstacle to support the mission of Customs and Border Protection." 

    "Our priority right now is to get a half a mile of wire on this wall," he said while giving NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 a look into their efforts near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Monday. 

    On Monday, CBP temporarily shut down  all northbound lanes into the U.S. at the San Ysidro POE so troops could position moveable barriers due to a report that a group of Central American migrants was trying to rush the border, according to CBP. 

    Though no activity materialized, the agency said the closure at the nation's busiest border crossing was needed.

    Nielsen praised the efforts on Twitter saying, "@CBP and @DeptofDefense appropriately responded by blocking the lanes, deploying additional personnel and seeking assistance from other law enforcement and federal assets."

    The tweet was accompanied by a photo showing a line of helmeted border patrol agents carrying shields. 

    San Ysidro is the border’s busiest crossing, with about 110,000 people entering the U.S. every day. That traffic includes some 40,000 vehicles, 34,000 pedestrians and 150 to 200 buses.

    President Donald Trump tweeted a photo Monday of the border fence at Border Field State Park covered in concertina wire with the message, "No climbers anymore under our Administration!"

    Images captured last week showed migrants, in celebration that they reached the U.S. border, scale that same fence and walk or sit atop it

    About a dozen migrants stood on the sand on the U.S. side of the fence before eventually returning to the Mexico side. No arrests were made.

    Border Field State Park has a long history and involves government entities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico Border.

    The Border Infrastructure Project is a fenced corridor between an older fence once constructed along the border and a new fence built in 2008 – 2009. It is owned by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

    The DoD said the troops would not interact with migrants but would complete "border hardening" tasks, like using pieces of barbed wire, concrete roadblocks and rebar to create movable barriers that can be used to block lanes at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry. 

    Army Military Police are there to protect the Marines who are not armed and are prohibited from enforcing the law. 

    Analysts and the Pentagon estimate that the entire deployment operation could cost $200 million.

    Meanwhile, tensions on the Mexican side of the border have built as nearly 3,000 migrants from the caravan poured into Tijuana in recent days, The Associated Press reported. And with U.S. border inspectors processing only about 100 asylum claims a day at Tijuana's main crossing to San Diego, they will likely be there for months while they seek asylum in the U.S.

    Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants' arrival an "avalanche" that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. Gastelum has appealed to the federal government for more assistance to cope with the influx.

    Some Tijuana residents supported the migrants, but others accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana. On Sunday, about 400 Tijuana residents took to the streets in protest, waving Mexican flags and chanting "Out! Out!" 

    They also complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an "invasion." And they voiced worries that their taxes might be spent to care for the group.

    "We don't want them in Tijuana," protesters shouted.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    A flower vendor announced a lawsuit Tuesday against the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after she was arrested in June 2017 for selling flowers without a permit. She alleges that the officers involved in the caught-on-camera arrest used excessive force.

    The cellphone video shows a sheriff's deputy in an altercation with a woman who allegedly did not have a permit to sell flowers outside a high school graduation ceremony in Perris. 

    That woman Joaquina Valencia is now suing the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for excessive force and saying no human should ever be treated the way she was. 

    The complaint alleges Valencia was "unjustifiably beaten, shoved to the ground and arrested." 

    "He tossed me like a rag," Valencia said in Spanish.

    But new helmet cam video worn by one of the deputies released Monday shows the altercation from a different angle, on which Valencia's son can be heard telling his mom to not move.

    The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says that Valencia used a false name (Juanita Mendez-Medrano) when she was detained and resisted arrest. A year later, the department stands by its arrest, claiming they verified her identity through fingerprints. 

    However, Valencia's attorney Ralph Rios argues that Joaquina Valencia is her true name and that she was just nervous.

    DMV records also confirm Valencia is the woman's true name. 

    "A lot of times when people do that, people get nervous and, she might have said a different name, she might have said something," Rios said.

    Valencia’s other attorney, Luis Carrillo says that someone selling flowers is not a criminal.

    "A person selling flowers is not a dangerous criminal, it's not a bad person. A person selling flowers is making a living. And for him to ask about papers, that shows the frame of mind, he has a racist frame of mind to assume she's not a US citizen. But she is," Carrillo said. 

    Photo Credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

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    A historic summer and fall of wildfires left residents who live near burn areas facing another threat this fall and winter in California. The fires stripped vegetation from hillsides, leaving those ares more succeptible to flooding and debris flows during storms. 

    Use the map below, or this link, to see USGS maps of post-fire debris flow and flood hazard areas affected by wildfires in Southern California. The USGS uses factors live burn severity, soil properties and rainfall forecasts to estimate the probability and size of debris flows.

    Even moderate rainfall can produce flooding in burn areas because they lack the vegetation that would normally absorb water. The fire-scarred hillsides have a repellent layer that blocks water absorption. If it's not absorbed by the soil, rainwater simply washes down the hillside, sometimes with enough force to move boulders, tear out trees and damage buildings and bridges.

    Photo Credit: USGS
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    A USGS map shows wildfire burn areas in October 2018.A USGS map shows wildfire burn areas in October 2018.

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    The deadly and destructive Woolsey Fire has scorched thousands of acres, destroyed more than 1,500 structures and killed three people so far.

    The family of one of its victims -- Alfred De Ciutiis -- said they believe the 73-year-old died trying to escape the flames.

    Known as "Doctor D," the retired oncologist lived in his Agoura Hills home for 30 years and loved everything about the city. He'd be devastated to see what's left of it now, his nephew Vincent De Ciutiis said.

    He was proud of his house on top of the hill, but not too proud to leave, his family said.

    "This is where they found my uncle … what was left of him," Vincent De Ciutiis said.

    Law enforcement officers found the remains of Alfred De Ciutiis after his family asked for a welfare check.

    Vincent De Ciutiss and his uncle were close and spoke almost every day, including the night of the fire.

    "I knew Friday night when I didn't get a call back that something was a little off," he said.

    Alfred De Ciutiis over the phone with his nephew mentioned an "interesting smell," but didn't notice anything at the moment. Family members said "Doctor D" would have evacuated if he knew there was immediate danger.

    Some neighbors on the way down the hill said they were heart broken and thought Alfred had made it out because they looked up and saw the home dark. But the fire burned so fast and so hot, that there's nothing left of the picturesque home on top of the hill.

    Vincent said his uncle was a world traveler and a brilliant mind.

    "It was really amazing being able to have him as an uncle," he said, "for all these years to see him gone, it just blows my mind away."

    Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said the remains of two other fire victims were found in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway.

    Photo Credit: De Ciutiis Family

    Alfred de Ciutiis, 73, was one of three people killed in the Woolsey Fire.Alfred de Ciutiis, 73, was one of three people killed in the Woolsey Fire.

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    TGI Weekend! Ice rinks and turkey trots, hockey and hops. There's plenty to do in San Diego on this long Thanksgiving weekend. No matter how you enjoy your days, take the time to be grateful that you're living in America's Finest City. Get up. Get out. Play!

    Thursday, Nov. 22 (Happy Thanksgiving)
    Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink 

    Times vary, Viejas Casino and Resort
    Bring on the winter cheer! Viejas Casino & Resort has decked the halls and opened its outdoor ice skating rink for the holiday season -- of the largest rinks of its kind in Southern California. A $16 ticket for adults or $14 ticket for kids age 12 and under includes 90 minutes of time on the ice; season passes are available for those who want to visit time and time again. On Thanksgiving, the ice rink will open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. For the rest of the holiday weekend, the rink will open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Check the schedule here before you go. 


    Father Joe’s Villages 17th Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K
    6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Balboa Park
    More than 7,500 participants and spectators are expected to turn out for this Thanksgiving 5K in Balboa Park in support of Father Joe’s Villages. On-site registration opens at 6:30 a.m. and the race begins at 7:30 a.m. The 5K serves as a fundraiser for the organization’s meals program, which provides more than 1 million meals annually to people in need. Now, that’s something for which to be thankful.

    2018 San Diego Run for the Hungry
    7 a.m., Outside Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego
    The annual San Diego Run for the Hungry invites participants to lace up their sneakers and hit the pavement around downtown San Diego. The 10K run starts at 7 a.m., while the 5K begins at 8:15 a.m. The race supports locals who face hunger, with all profits donated to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and its hunger-relief programs. For every participant’s fee, at least 185 meals will be raised for San Diegans in need.

    Family Fun Run
    7:30 a.m., Del Mar Race Track
    And away YOU go. The Del Mar Race Track will host its Family Fun Run bright and early Thanksgiving morning, which gives families a chance to run a 1-mile lap all the way around the famous seaside horse racing track. Participants will finish the run in the Winners’ Circle, where they can get their photo taken. Bring the kids a half-hour early, at 7 a.m., and enjoy pre-race activities like games, prizes, face painting, holiday arts and crafts and animal guests from the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Proceeds from race entries will benefit the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s equestrian therapy program for children and adults with special needs.


    O’Side Turkey Trot
    6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Oceanside Civic Center Parking Structure
    “Move your feet before you eat” at this popular Turkey Day trot in Oceanside. This event includes activities for everyone – from a 10K run or 5K run or walk, to a 1-mile course for kids ages 7 to 12 or runners over 65 years old. There’s also a ¼-mile “Tiny Turkey Trot” for little ones 6 and under. The course includes a costume contest, competitions and live entertainment. To date, the annual event has raised more than $321,000 for non-profit organizations that serve residents of Oceanside.


    4th Annual San Diego South Bay Turkey Trot
    8 a.m., Rohr Park in Bonita
    Make your way to Rohr Park in Bonita on Thanksgiving morning for this run, where participants can tackle a 5K, 10K or 15K course. After the race, there will be a party with awards, food and prizes. Make a difference by bringing a non-perishable food item on race day to help fight hunger impacting those in the community.


    Friday, Nov. 23

    Escape the Nat
    12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday through Sunday), San Diego Natural History Museum
    The Natural History Museum in Balboa Park is getting in on the "Escape Room" craze with a fun puzzle game of its own on the lower level of the museum. The premise: there's a deadly viral outbreak and you must help find the cure by combing through the museum archives in search of clues that must be solved to save the world. Groups of two to six players can join the game, and ticket prices vary depending on the number of people participating. For instance, two people can play for $80; the ticket price includes admission to the museum. Guests must make reservations in advance for a slotted time Tuesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    Dr. Seuss's 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'
    2 p.m. and 5 p.m., The Old Globe
    The Grinch can't stop Christmas from coming this year but he can bring his shenanigans to The Old Globe once again for the 21st year of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" The classic musical will delight guests through the holiday season with songs like, "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," and "Welcome, Christmas (Fah Who Doraze)." See the show on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage with tickets starting at $54. Times vary by date so be sure to check the calendar.


    San Diego Gulls vs. Stockton Heat
    7 p.m., Valley View Casino Center
    Cheer on the San Diego Gulls at this home game Friday night as the team takes on the Stockton Heat. Tickets start at $23; the puck drops at 7 p.m.

    Decades Collide: ‘80s vs. ‘90s Featuring DJ Biz Markie
    7 p.m., House of Blues
    Jam’n 95.7FM presents this dance party at the House of Blues featuring rapper Biz Markie (1989’s “Just a Friend”) curating the best jams from both the 1980s and 1990s. Cover bands will add to the entertainment lineup, performing some of the most epic tunes from both decades. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their best ‘80s and ‘90s gear. General admission tickets start at $20.


    Hops on the Harbor
    7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Flagship Cruises & Events
    This month, enjoy a craft beer dinner cruise around the San Diego Bay paired with suds from a cross-section of our city’s brewery scene. The menu from this installment of “Hops on the Harbor” includes four 6-ounce, beer tastings expertly matched with courses. For instance, Burgeon Beer Co.’s Pistil – a German pilsner – will be paired with citrus-steamed mussels and clams, while Coronado Brewing Company’s Orange Ave. Wit is paired with sundried tomato and artichoke penne with grilled chicken. Also on the brew menu: Capital of Craft, the San Diego Brewers Guild Collaboration brewed by Karl Strauss, and Pizza Port’s double IPA, Over the Falls. The dinner cruise boards at 7 p.m. from 990 North Harbor Dr. and sails past the San Diego skyline, USS Midway, Star of India and other Maritime Museum ships and the Coronado Bay Bridge. Tickets cost $79.50 for adults and $47.70 for children ages 4 to 12; kids 3 and under are free. Reservations are recommended.

    Taylor Williamson
    7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., The Comedy Store
    Comic Taylor Williamson – a graduate of Torrey Pines High School – returns to his hometown on Thanksgiving weekend for his first-ever headlining gig at The Comedy Store in La Jolla. Williamson’s stand-up skills earned him second place on season 8 of “America’s Got Talent,” and the TV talent show named him one of its 5 favorite acts of all time. Williamson began performing stand-up comedy when he was a senior in high school and The Comedy Store is the first club where he ever performed locally so this is a full-circle moment, right here. He performs at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, and again Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the 21+ show cost $20, plus a 2-drink minimum.


    Heathers: The Musical
    8 p.m., Lyceum Theatre
    The Off Broadway Theater Company presents this production of “Heathers: The Musical” at the Lyceum Theatre in downtown San Diego. The musical is based off the classic 1989 film about an Ohio high school ruled by three popular but cruel girls, all named Heather, and the misfit and her boyfriend who vie to overthrow their regime. Tickets start at $20.

    Saturday, Nov. 24

    High Tide Breakfast
    7 a.m. to 11 a.m., The Marine Room (La Jolla)
    The fall season means high tides in the morning. The Marine Room's High Tide Breakfast gives diners a front-row seat as 5 to 7-foot waves crash upon the large windows of the restaurant. Enjoy the soothing sounds while eating a buffet of baked goods, charcuterie, eggs benedict, crepes and other delectable breakfast dishes. The dining experience can only be enjoyed during peak tides at certain times and select days through December. Reservations should be made in advance.

    Yoga in the Rotunda
    8:30 a.m., San Diego Museum of Man
    Before the doors open to the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, yogis can gather in the museum’s domed hall for a quiet teacher-led yoga session. The class allows students to go at their own pace, making it a great pick for both beginners and more advanced enthusiasts. The $10 yoga sessions ($5 for members) are held every second and fourth Saturday of the month.


    Rady Children's Ice Rink
    10 a.m to 10 p.m., Liberty Station
    Grab your skates and take a spin on the ice while supporting a good cause this holiday season. NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 are partnering with Rady Children’s Hospital for this festive activity. All proceeds benefit the hospital’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The Rady Children’s Ice Rink is open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6 at Liberty Station, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for children. Discounts are available for military personnel.

    Holiday Lights on Main Street
    1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Prescott Promenade
    Prescott Promenade in El Cajon will look like a winter village as the annual Holiday Lights on Main Street festival takes over the outdoor courtyard. Dozens of local retailers will gather in the promenade to sell fashion and jewelry, art, books, delicious treats and more. Nearby, Santa will take pictures with visitors and guests can take to the ice for a skating session or some carnival rides. The event is in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, which invites people to “shop local” on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Stay until 6 p.m. to see the Christmas tree light up with holiday magic.


    Surfin’ Santa
    1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Seaport Village
    Santa Claus -- in board shorts. The 13th annual Surfin' Santa celebration brings the jolly fella to Seaport Village only, instead of a sleigh, Santa will arrive on a boat along the San Diego Bay. Once on land, visitors can pose with Santa before enjoying a parade and live performances along the bayside boardwalk. It is free to see Santa but Seaport Village encourages visitors to stick around and shop small at the many stores there as part of Small Business Saturday.

    Fall Grooves at the Westin
    7 p.m., Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa
    The annual Fall Grooves music series is back with three jazzy concerts this season at the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa (71333 Dinah Shore Drive). For Thanksgiving weekend, head to Masters Plaza to enjoy the sounds of Special EFX, a smooth jazz group that’s been in the business for nearly 20 years. Tickets range from $45 to $85 and can be purchased here. 


    Sunday, Nov. 25

    Skating by the Sea
    Times Vary, Hotel Del Coronado
    There are few places in the world where you can glide on an ice rink just feet from the ocean. The Hotel Del Coronado offers just that at their annual Skating by the Sea event. Through Jan 1, 2019, guests can take a spin on this beachside rink and enjoy sweeping views of the San Diego Bay with the purchase of a $35 ticket. Times vary by day so be sure to check the schedule here before you go.

    Del Mar Fall Racing
    11 a.m., Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
    And they’re off! The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club continues its fall horse racing season with races beginning at 12:30 p.m. On Sunday, over at the West Grandstand, visitors can also enjoy the Holiday Boutique, an area filled with pop-up shops, a complimentary mini spa, mimosa bar, holiday activities and more. Admission to the seaside track starts at $6.

    Nature Walk at Silver Strand State Beach
    1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Lifeguard Headquarters (Silver Strand)
    Join a guide from Silver Strand State Beach on this free, one-hour nature walk as you use binoculars and hand lenses to learn about the plants and animals of the park in their natural habitat. While the walk is free, there is a fee to drive into or park inside the state beach. The walk begins at Lifeguard Headquarters.


    Holiday by the Bay
    5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Hilton San Diego Bayfront
    Looking for a little more excitement this holiday season? New this year, the Hilton Bayfront is opening a holiday adventure park along San Diego Bay. Holiday by the Bay features reimagined traditions -- like a two-story ice tubing slide, “iceberg” bumper cars and a dynamic light show centered around a Christmas tree, to name a few. For adults, festive cocktails will be doled out at the Yule Lodge cocktail bar. The adventure park is open through Jan. 5, 2019, to those with a ticket, starting at $20 or $15 for those under 12. Some activities cost extra.

    Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego
    Times and locations vary
    Looking to save some cash, but still enjoy the city? In San Diego, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy for free or on the cheap. Go for a hike at Torrey Pines State Park or Cowles Mountain, stroll Balboa Park, try a new craft brewery, admire the murals of Chicano Park or read a book at a downtown park. Get out there and explore America’s Finest City.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    STAMFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 24: A Guatemalan immigrant carves the Thanksgiving turkey on November 24, 2016 in Stamford, Connecticut. Family and friends, some of them U.S. citizens, others on work visas and some undocumented immigrants came together in an apartment to celebrate the American holiday with turkey and Latin American dishes. They expressed concern with the results of the U.S. Presidential election of president-elect Donald Trump, some saying their U.S.-born children fear the possibilty their parents will be deported after Trump's inauguration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)STAMFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 24: A Guatemalan immigrant carves the Thanksgiving turkey on November 24, 2016 in Stamford, Connecticut. Family and friends, some of them U.S. citizens, others on work visas and some undocumented immigrants came together in an apartment to celebrate the American holiday with turkey and Latin American dishes. They expressed concern with the results of the U.S. Presidential election of president-elect Donald Trump, some saying their U.S.-born children fear the possibilty their parents will be deported after Trump's inauguration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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    The boom in food delivery apps available in San Diego has mushroomed exponentially the last several years. And, data shows they aren’t going away anytime soon.

    The demand and subsequent growth of food delivery apps have spawned a number of developments in the food and restaurant industry. First, despite delivery companies charging up to a 30 percent commission, the number of San Diego-based restaurants contracting the mobile services continues to grow as more eateries are jumping on the bandwagon in hopes of reaching a broader customer base. Secondly, ghost restaurants, which don’t have brick-and-mortar retail locations and solely function through delivery apps, have been popping up.

    Profit margins can be high for ghost restaurants as compared with a sit-down location since there isn’t a storefront and front-of-the-house employees to account for financially. Although most of these ghost restaurants came online recently, some in the industry believe the business model can be successful.

    Food Delivery Sales Increased

    According to a report on food trends by NPD Group, a market research firm, despite the restaurant industry traffic in the U.S. plateauing in recent years, food delivery sales grew by 20 percent between 2012 and 2017, with individual orders increasing by 10 percent over the five-year period. Overall, the accumulation of deliveries in those years accounted for 1.75 billion orders and $16.9 billion in sales with mobile food delivery companies representing 13 percent of the traffic. One local example is Doordash, which launched with less than 100 restaurants in San Diego in 2015, and now has over 3,000 restaurants it delivers for.

    Lucien Conner, director of operations at San Diego-based Puesto Mexican restaurants, with six locations, says the properties began using food delivery apps two years ago, including Postmates, Doordash and UberEats, but now work exclusively with Doordash.

    Additional Revenue Stream

    “We experimented with different ones, since the segment is so new, and we wanted to see who will emerge as the leader,” said Conner. “In terms of striking exclusive deals, it was just negotiating the best terms. Plus, from a streamlining perspective, it made sense to use one platform and one system.”

    Conner said while the brick and mortars have great volume already, he plans to continue to use the delivery apps for additional revenue stream.

    “It seems like a no-brainer as long as you can maintain margins that make sense and don’t damage the experience of the customers in store and don’t send a subpar representation of yourself in a box to your off-site customers,” he said.

    Conner says the company has seen the most volume with its downtown location since working exclusively with Doordash. He adds the company’s reason for using a delivery format is to be able to connect with stay-at-home guests, as well, while not compromising the experience of the in-dining guests.

    A Necessary Evil

    Mike Spilky, president of San Diego-based Location Matters, a commercial real estate company, says delivery apps are actually a necessary evil for restaurants.

    “It makes it difficult to make any money from the revenue you are getting from deliveries because of the percentage of sales they charge,” he said, adding that traditional restaurants are not built for the amount of volume that goes into also having a delivery extension, thus, it can wreak havoc on the operation side of things.

    Believing in Ghosts

    To that point, though few and far in between, a number of ghost restaurants have popped up in San Diego bred from the delivery apps craze. The idea is a restaurant that doesn’t have a storefront and sometimes not even an actual venue (it might rent an already-existing commercial kitchen to work out of where it creates food that it sells solely through door-to-door delivery purchases).

    Adam Lowe, owner of Sundara Indian restaurant in Point Loma, launched Dabbawala, a sister ghost restaurant functioning out of a licensed prep kitchen in Balboa Park in April.

    “We were already at the Museum of Natural History renting space from them for about a year, so we decided to test the waters,” he said. “It was odd: no storefront, online orders only, pre-pay in advance.”

    Although Lowe shut down the ghost restaurant two months later due to logistical issues — mostly because of its location, which added anywhere between 10-20 minutes to each delivery — he says he’s convinced it’s a system that can indeed work.

    “If we didn’t have to run this stuff down from the roof of a five-floor building that was lodged in the center of Balboa Park, we would’ve stuck with it,” he said, adding that if he could work out of a ground-level location and in a dense neighborhood, he would consider giving ghosting another shot.

    Lowe adds that at Sundara, he recently begrudgingly began using delivery apps, mostly because the platforms reach so many customers, although he does agree the margins can be high.

    Customer Convenience

    Morgan Poor, assistant professor of marketing at San Diego State University, says delivery apps are important to today’s time-starved society.

    “We live in a world where we want convenience and variety at our fingertips,” she said. “We don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go to the grocery store all of the time and think of what to cook every night, but, we like trying new foods and new cuisines and sometimes ethnic foods that we can’t make. With delivery apps, we have access to all kinds of foods right at home.”

    Spilky, of Location Matters, agrees.

    “There is a demand for it,” he said. “If you don’t deliver, you kind of disappear.” 

    Photo Credit: Puesto
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    San Diego-based Puesto Mexican restaurants began using food delivery apps two years ago, including Postmates, Doordash and UberEats, but now work exclusively with Doordash.San Diego-based Puesto Mexican restaurants began using food delivery apps two years ago, including Postmates, Doordash and UberEats, but now work exclusively with Doordash.

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    A 13-year-old Long Island boy battling a rare and deadly form of leukemia stood with his parents in family court Monday, sharing another disappointment as a New York judge rejected the family's emergency petition to halt his daily chemotherapy treatments. 

    "I don't need chemo because I don't have any more cancer in my body," Nicholas Gundersen told reporters Monday. "It's difficult because every time I get it, I always feel sick. And I don't want to feel sick if I don't have to feel sick." 

    The teen's cancer is said to be in remission, but his doctors at NYU Winthrop Hospital insist the boy needs 40 more months of chemotherapy. A spokesman for NYU Winthrop said previously, "Unless chemotherapy is continued, those [cancer] cells can once again multiply and the results are usually fatal." 

    When mom Candace Gundersen decided not to continue chemotherapy treatments for her son, instead seeking a second opinion from other doctors and planning to focus on a non-toxic alternative therapy for the teen, Suffolk County's Child Protective Services seized custody of Nicholas.

    That move has blocked Candace Gundersen from making any decisions about her son's medical care.

    "It's very disturbing to me that the government has basically kidnapped my child," said Candace Gundersen.

    Nicholas was kept at at NYU Winthrop Hospital for at least a week with a special GPS bracelet to track his movements until a judge approved him moving into the custody of a family friend, where his mother was allowed to live with him. 

    Family supporters came to court Monday wearing t-shirts reading "Justice for Nick." But the judge refused to grant the outcome they were seeking. 

    "The judge is not listening to the constitutional rights of these parents,"  the family's lawyer Elliot Schlissel says. 

    Dennis Nowak, a spokesman for the Suffolk Department of Social Services, said Monday night in response to the judge's ruling, "Child Protective Services is proceeding in accordance with the Suffolk County Family Court order, and will continue to do so to ensure the child's medical needs are met." 

    The hearing for the case is scheduled for December, and the family is hoping it will be the first step toward regaining control of their son's medical care. 

    Candace Gundersen told reporters, "I believe that in the end justice will be served, and that we will be free to take Nicholas and to take care of him properly." 

    Photo Credit: News 4 NY

    Nicholas Gundersen with his father in court MondayNicholas Gundersen with his father in court Monday

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    A businessman and self-proclaimed silent investor in some of San Diego’s legal marijuana businesses was arrested by FBI Agents after an alleged murder-for-hire plot against his one-time business partner. 

    According to the criminal complaint, filed in federal court on Monday, Salam Razuki and his associates, Sylvia Gonzalez and Elizabeth Juarez, had been plotting to kill Razuki’s former business partner Ninus Malan. 

    In 2014, Razuki was taken to court by the City Attorney’s office for operating unlicensed marijuana dispensaries and businesses in the city.

    After Prop 64 passed, Razuki wanted to get into the legal marijuana industry but was concerned to have his name tied to any businesses. That’s why Razuki partnered with Malan. Essentially, Malan agreed to be the public face of his marijuana businesses, as reported by NBC 7’s media partner Voice of San Diego

    But by 2018, Razuki and Malan had a falling out. According to court records, Razuki sued Malan, alleging Malan was not abiding by agreed upon terms. Razuki claimed he had investigated in several legal marijuana businesses in the city, including the Balboa Avenue Cooperative and Goldn Bloom dispensaries, according to court filings

    That led to the events that took place last month when FBI Agents allege Razuki, Gonzalez, and Juarez tried to pay a man to kill Malan. Unbeknownst to them, the man they were trying to hire was a confidential informant working for the FBI. 

    According to the complaint, Razuki and Gonzalez told the informant to "shoot [Ninus Malan] in the face, take him to Mexico and have him whacked, or kill him in some other way”. 

    “They wanted to put the turkey up to roast before Thanksgiving," agents wrote in the criminal complaint, referring to the plot to kill Malan. 

    “I would love for him [Ninus Malan] to go to [Tijuana] and get lost,” Gonzalez told the informant while at a table at the The Great Maple restaurant in San Diego. “Just leave him over there." 

    In the criminal complaint, Prosecutors say Gonzalez offered the informant $2,000 for the murder. 

    On Friday, after the informant told Razuki that the job was done and Razuki paid them, FBI Agents arrested Razuki, Gonzalez, and Juarez for charges relating to the attempted kidnapping and murder of Malan. 

    This story will be updated later today and NBC 7 Investigates will have the full story on NBC 7 at 6 p.m.

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    The Department of Defense sent troops to complete "border hardening" tasks, like using pieces of barbed wire, concrete roadblocks and rebar to create movable barriers that can be used to block lanes at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry.

    Photo Credit: U.S. Army North

    U.S. Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion were sent as part of the effort by the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Northern Command's effort to secure the border perimeter near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.U.S. Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion were sent as part of the effort by the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Northern Command's effort to secure the border perimeter near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

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    The Department of Homeland Security is gathering intelligence from paid undercover informants inside the migrant caravan that is now reaching the California-Mexico border as well as monitoring the text messages of migrants, according to two DHS officials.

    The 4,000 migrants, mainly from Honduras, have used WhatsApp text message groups as a way to organize and communicate along their journey to the California border, and DHS personnel have joined those groups to gather that information, NBC News reported.

    The intelligence gathering techniques are combined with reports from DHS personnel working in Mexico with the government there in an effort to keep tabs on the caravan's size, movements and any potential security threats.

    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Shadows are reflected on a wall as members of the Central American migrant caravan moves in the pre-dawn hours on Nov. 2, 2018, in Matias Romero, Mexico.Shadows are reflected on a wall as members of the Central American migrant caravan moves in the pre-dawn hours on Nov. 2, 2018, in Matias Romero, Mexico.

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    A man accused of grabbing a woman as she walked to her car in downtown’s East Village, pulling her into some bushes to sexually assault her, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

    Gary Cushinberry, 51, was arraigned in a San Diego courtroom on three felonies pertaining to the alleged Nov. 5 attack. He also faces special allegations of committing the crimes while on probation and, if convicted, could be sentenced to a maximum of 21 years behind bars.

    San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Lt. Jason Weeden said Cushinberry grabbed the victim from behind as she walked along 13th Street, near the San Diego Central Library, before pulling her into some bushes.

    Police publicly released a composite sketch of the suspect shortly after the crime and, through tips and leads, investigators identified Cushinberry as the alleged attacker.

    He was arrested on Nov. 16 about five blocks from where the alleged sex assault took place.

    Photo Credit: SDPD

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    Inside an abandoned building on Chicago’s West Side, on a Wednesday night in October, Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier became this year’s 22nd known transgender murder victim in the United States.

    Frazier also was the second black transgender woman to be killed in Chicago within a five-week period, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a LGBTQ advocacy group.

    That night, Oct. 3, she stepped off a friend’s porch and approached a white car that had driven onto Adams Street in West Garfield Park, the Chicago Tribune reported. The driver was allegedly a regular client of the 31-year-old Frazier, who neighbors said was a sex worker.

    Neighbors would find Frazier around 9:30 p.m. in the building’s backyard, suffering from multiple stab wounds. A half an hour later, she was dead.

    Her life is among those being memorialized on Tuesday, Transgender Day of Remembrance. At least 29 transgender individuals were murdered in 2017, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and another 22 in 2018.

    Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender author, said the number of known murders each year has increased since she founded the day of remembrance, in 1999 in response to the killing of a transgender woman named Rita Hester.

    In its early years, the day of remembrance consisted of small vigils in San Francisco and Boston, and they were generally recognized only by the transgender and LGBTQ community, Smith said.

    “It’s been amazing to watch it become something that is so much bigger, that is treated worldwide, written about and considered a part of the community,” she said.

    Sarah McBride, Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary, said that the day had evolved to recognize that “transgender women of color, particularly black trans women of color, are facing the bulk of this discrimination and violence.”

    Of this year’s murders, 82 percent of the victims were transgender women of color, according to the organization’s new report, “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018.”

    Mara Keisling, the founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that the struggles of people from traditionally marginalized communities are reflected in these cases.

    “We live in a country where you are more susceptible to violence if you are a person of color, if you’re low income, if you’re a woman, if you’re an immigrant,” Keisling said. “And if you are all or most of those things at once -- a young, black, low-income trans woman -- you have a bigger bullseye on your back.”

    The 22 murders highlighted in the Human Rights Commission's report include deaths that are "influenced or contributed to by the hate and prejudice against transgender people," McBride said. But transgender activists believe that there may be more murder victims who were killed for being transgender.

    How the media cover these murders and how law enforcement and medical examiners log them —including which gender a victim is identified by and whether a legal or chosen name is used — can influence the victims list.

    Chicago’s medical examiner’s office initially filed Frazier’s record under a different name, according to the Chicago Tribune. And whereas police said Frazier was female in its reports, the medical examiner wrote her gender as unknown.

    The Human Rights Campaign’s report found that 74 percent of the victims were described with the wrong gender in initial media coverage and police documents concerning their death.

    Smith also said that there’s a common misconception that all victims of anti-transgender violence identify as transgender. But Smith said a non-trans person who is attacked because someone assumed they were transgender can also be considered a victim.

    “It’s an important distinction because a person can be affected by anti-transgender violence and never have considered themselves transgender in the first place,” Smith said.

    A report released by the FBI last week found anti-LGBTQ hate crimes rose 3 percent in 2017. More than 16 percent of federally reported hate crimes target the LGBTQ community, according to NBC News.

    Although Keisling said she thinks the increase in the number of murders may be a result of better reporting, she also believes that violence against the transgender community has grown.

    “The perpetrators feel empowered,” Keisling said. “I talk to folks all the time who have been without incidents for 25, 35 years and suddenly people are harassing them, calling them names, slapping at them and telling them to get out of bathrooms.”

    Because of the increase, McBride said that she doesn’t envision a future yet where a specific day of remembrance is not needed.

    “So long as there is a need for mourning and healing, there will be a need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance,” McBride said.

    Keisling said the Transgender Day of Remembrance is important because it reminds people that the transgender individuals were more than just victims.

    “If you’ve been to vigils and funerals, if you’ve seen mothers just crying to the point of wailing that they have lost their baby, when you see best friends who now are just horrified that they’ve lost this person who is so dear to them, these aren’t just numbers, these aren’t just the 23 people who were murdered this year,” said Keisling, referring to the number of deaths in the 12 months since the last remembrance day. “These are actually 23 remarkable people with such promise and beauty and they were just cut off. And I think remembering that is just important.”

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    A judge cut bail in half Tuesday for a 92-year-old man accused of shooting and killing his son in their Old Town home, noting that there needs to be "some humanity" in the case. 

    Bail for Richard Landis Peck was lowered from a half-million dollars to $250,000 after attorneys argued Tuesday whether or not the elderly man posed a risk to the public. 

    Richard Peck is suspected of shooting his 51-year-old son, Robert Landis Peck, while he was asleep in their home last Thursday. He was arrested and booked into jail on first-degree murder charges, which he pleaded not guilty to. 

    Defense Attorney Doug Gilliland argued the shooting was motivated by self-defense against an alcoholic son who bombarded the 92-year-old man with psychological abuse and asked the judge to allow him to return home. 

    The prosecution said Richard Peck was a danger and that the shooting, "was not a case of self-defense. This was basically an execution."

    "While Mr. Peck may be 92 years old, he is able to wield weapons, he’s able to wield a shotgun, he’s able to fire a shotgun and he’s able to kill people."

    San Diego Superior Court Judge Jay Bloom was momentarily torn on how to proceed but ultimately sided with the defense. 

    "The problem with this kind of case is that what he did is terrible and wrong. On the other hand, you’re dealing with a 92-year-old gentleman," Bloom said. "In my mind, sending him to jail with the timing the way it is now is basically a death sentence for him, too."

    Richard Peck faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted. 

    If bail is posted, he is ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet and must remain under house arrest except for doctor's visits and court appearance. 

    Last Thursday, officers responded to a 911 call from a neighbor who reported the elder Peck called out for help and said he had just shot his son, the San Diego Police Department said. 

    Richard Peck was across the street at a neighbor's house when officers arrived.

    Gilliland said on the night of the shooting, Robert Peck smashed his father's landline, which was his primary mode of communication, and threatened him before bed. Richard Peck was afraid to go to sleep that night, according to Gilliland. 

    Robert Peck was going through a divorce and had recently moved into his father's home, according to court records.

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    Krystal Cook’s husband, an active duty Marine, was at a training exercise in Florida when she says he got a phone call from USAA Bank.

    He answered the phone. Krystal says the person on the other line told her husband that USAA had detected fraudulent transactions on their debit card. The person claiming to be from USAA told Krystal’s husband that a text with a verification code would be sent to his phone, and to follow the instructions on the text. Krystal says her husband didn’t think anything of it. He called back and gave his bank account and personal identification numbers to the person on the other line.

    “They had the same wording as USAA,” said Krystal. “They used the same lines, ‘Thank you for being a trusted member.’ They even had the same music playing while he was on hold.”

    Krystal says her husband returned to San Diego from his training. The couple checked their bank account. That’s when they learned their bank account was empty, that more than $9,000 had been withdrawn from their checking and savings accounts.

    “We called USAA panicking. We asked when our new debit card was coming and they said, ‘What card?’”

    Krystal said she called again and the USAA spokesperson told her that the scammers had withdrawn their money from two ATM machines in New York City a day after her husband had received the call.

    At first, Krystal says USAA was unable to return the money, mostly due to the fact that Krystal’s husband had given his bank account information out.

    Krystal, however, refused to accept that they were at fault.

    Krystal contacted NBC 7 Responds. She called USAA again.

    That’s when she received the good news from a person in USAA’s Financial Crimes Prevention.

    The bank had decided to reimburse the couple’s money.

    But, according to a representative from USAA, Krystal and her husband are not alone, in fact customers of all financial institutions are at risk of getting fooled by what is known in the industry as the “Imposter Scam.”

    “This is an industry-wide problem,” said Mike Slaugh, the executive director for USAA’s Financial Crimes Prevention. “At USAA we will never call you and ask you for your log-on information. This includes your PINs, your passwords, and your tone time codes.”

    As for Krystal and her husband, she says the experience has changed the couple forever.

    “It’s scary and we are still scared,” said Krystal. “My advice; always call the number back before you give out any information.”

    Photo Credit: Bob Hansen

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    A truck smashed through a Chase Bank in Chula Vista Tuesday, injuring three.

    “It was just a regular day going to the ATM to withdraw some money, and the next thing you know, there’s a truck right next to me,” said Irene Archuleta.

    She said she heard a “loud boom,” before seeing the truck half-way into the bank.

    Archuleta said the ATM closest to the crash site wasn’t working.

    “If that ATM would have been working, that would’ve been me there,” said Ana Gonzalez, who attempted to use the fourth ATM but moved to another one moments before the incident.

    Archuleta noticed the driver after the initial impact.

    “When he was in the car, he looked like he was out of it, kind of almost smirked and smiled at us,” she said. “Maybe he was in shock, I don’t know.”

    While Archuleta sustained some cuts from the broken glass, she and Gonzalez were, fortunately, not seriously injured, though they were both visibly shaken up by the crash.

    The driver wasn't injured, according to authorities.

    However, two employees and a patron were taken to a nearby hospital, according to Francisco Sorto, Captain of Chula Vista Fire Department

    The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time, Sorto said.

    A building inspector was called to the bank and deemed it safe for crews to begin clean-up. The wall the truck hit was not load-bearing, according to CVFD.

    Money could be seen somewhat scattered around the crash site.

    The driver told police he hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes.

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    Thanksgiving is a time for family, which for some means a lot of time getting to them. 

    There will be more Thanksgiving travelers this year than in the last 13 years, AAA reports. 

    "4.2 million southern California residents will be taking a trip of more than 50 miles from home Wednesday to Sunday of this week," said Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for AAA. 

    That's the most travelers in this area since 2005. AAA attributes it to the booming economy, which is making more people feel like they have expendable income for things like gas and vacation. 

    "The increase is going to be about 5.1 percent more travel volume this year compared to last year," added Shupe. 

    Despite higher gas prices, more people will be driving. There will also be many taking planes, trains and other means of transportation. 

    Shupe stresses it is important to inspect your car ahead of time so that you don't end up on the side of the road. 

    "Check the tire tread and inflation to prevent blow outs," said Shupe. "Check the battery, and do the oil change as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer." 

    What are your holiday travel plans? 

    Photo Credit: NBC10

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    Nurses from a San Diego hospital are on day five of an aid mission in Butte County helping thousands of people living in shelters and tents after the Camp Fire ravaged their homes.

    Those five nurses are from the Scripps Medical Response Team and they’re in Chico and surrounding communities doing medical check-ups, providing prescriptions, and fighting the spread of disease.

    “Pretty much everyone at 65 years old has some kind of medication they are taking, but they left without everything. And their doctor’s office may have been in Paradise, right? So, all those medical records have been lost. That's why they need physicians, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, those individuals that can write prescriptions to be able to get them their medications that they need,” Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder explained.

    Van Gorder just returned to San Diego from a quick trip north to check in on his team and to see the devastation for himself.

    “You can see in their eyes they don't know what’s going to happen next,” he said. “They lost their homes, maybe they lost some relatives in the fire.”

    Van Gorder said there was a patient who had just started cancer treatment in the area but had to continue his treatment at a Scripps Hospital in San Diego because the fire took his home.

    Cal Fire said that more than 12,000 homes have been destroyed and estimates tens of thousands more are living in local shelters or even in their cars or in tents on the street.

    People with pets aren’t allowed to stay in some shelters, so they’ve opted to live in their cars or in tent communities.

    The team of five is scheduled to stay in the area for at least a few more days, including Thanksgiving.

    Scripps Health is waiting to see the impact of forecasted rainfall in Northern California before sending another team. If another one needs to be sent, Scripps says it has a fresh team ready to go.

    According to Van Gorder, the response team was created after the September 11 attacks. The thought was instead of 

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