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Chicago Area Hit by Severe Storms, Tornadoes Reported

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The Chicago area and parts of the Upper Midwest were hit with severe storms on Tuesday, bringing damaging winds and reports of tornadoes. The storms left thousands without power and caused significant damage in several communities.

  • Tornado warnings were issued across the Midwest as a line of storms swept through the region between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

  • The storms are expected to weaken in intensity throughout Wednesday as they move eastward.

The impact of the storms became apparent as officials began assessing the damage and confirming tornadoes in communities west of Chicago on Tuesday night.

As the severe weather threat moved east on Wednesday morning, over 3 million people in Ohio and Kentucky were under a tornado watch. Tornado warnings were issued for several counties in west central Ohio, with reports of debris flying in strong winds and potential damage to mobile homes. Tornado watches were also in effect for Indiana until 6 a.m.

The storms resulted in road closures throughout the Midwest and forced Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, to close one of its gates. Overnight, parts of Michigan, including Grand Blanc, were heavily impacted by the storms, with reports of a tornado striking the area around 1:20 a.m.

Thousands of customers in Michigan and Ohio were left without power as a result of the storms. O’Hare International Airport in Chicago also experienced disruptions, briefly grounding departing flights and suspending rail service.

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The National Weather Service confirmed reports of at least one tornado touchdown in Henry County, Illinois, with additional sightings near the city of DeKalb.

The severe storms are expected to continue moving eastward on Wednesday, losing intensity as they do. Cold air following the storms may lead to showers and thunderstorms stretching from the South to the Northeast, with a possibility of isolated strong wind gusts.

As temperatures drop behind the storms, moderate to heavy snowfall is likely in the Great Lakes and Northeast regions.

Contributions to this report were made by Yan Zhuang.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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