Peter Haden

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.

He holds a Master of Mass Communication degree from Arizona State University's Cronkite School and bachelor's degrees in Geography and International Studies from the University of Iowa.

After growing up on an Iowa sheep farm, Peter has lived and worked in Ukraine, Chile, Mexico, Washington D.C., Georgia, Arizona and Florida.

His current mission is to tell the greatest stories on earth - in three minutes and thirty seconds.

As Floridians continue lining up for food assistance due to hardships caused by Hurricane Irma, state officials announced they intend to re-open enrollment in two South Florida counties to meet demand.

The water level in Lake Okeechobee appears to have stabilized.

Rainwater from Hurricane Irma has pushed the lake over an alarming 17 feet. It's risen more than 3 feet since the storm, the highest the lake level has been since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. That prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct daily inspections of the lake’s 80-year-old dike.

The Corps has been working to reinforce the eroded Herbert Hoover Dike for a decade. The $1.7 billion project is scheduled to take another eight years.

Peter Haden/WLRN

Two people overdosed on opioids while in shelters in Palm Beach County during Hurricane Irma, officials said.

As Hurricane Irma continued to lash South Florida Sunday, Palm Beach County first responders were maintaining order despite some challenges.

Palm Beach County officials say 43 people have been charged with violating a county-wide curfew in effect due to Hurricane Irma. And at emergency shelters, opioids have been a problem.

“There have been two overdoses,” said Aronberg. “[The victims] have been saved and treated medically.”

Aronberg said the two victims were revived with an overdose reversal drug.

Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents or gun violence.

Thursday is International Overdose Awareness Day and, to mark the occasion, advocates and officials from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties will gather on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton to call for greater federal action to end the United States’s epidemic of addiction and overdose deaths.

Rallies will be held in cities around the country.

Maureen Kielian is a parent advocate from Fort Lauderdale who helped organize the event.

Drug overdose deaths are going up in Broward County.

Deaths from opioid overdoses topped 520 in 2016, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. That’s about 10 a week.

Cocaine overdose deaths were up more than 60 percent in Broward in 2016 — to 230 people.

It’s part of an overall trend that’s wreaking havoc around the country: poly-substance abuse.

“There are no normal drugs anymore,” said Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Mallak. “Everything’s a combination.”

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is moving forward to address problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) despite ongoing attempts by Republicans to repeal and replace it.

Wasserman Schultz met with an advisory panel of South Florida healthcare providers at Nova Southeastern University in Davie Tuesday to hear their concerns with the ACA and proposed solutions.

Bipartisan members of Congress are busy working on ways to fix the ACA, even if  the effort is not officially sanctioned, she said.

Widespread incidents of fraud have given the South Florida addiction treatment industry a black eye. Law enforcement has been cracking down — with strong support from the treatment industry’s legitimate providers.

About five years ago, Dillon Katz, entered a house in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"I walked in and the guy was sitting at this desk — no shirt on, sweating," Katz says.

The man asked Katz for a smoke.

"So I gave him a couple cigarettes," Katz says. "He went around the house and grabbed a mattress from underneath the house — covered in dirt and leaves and bugs. He dragged it upstairs and threw it on the floor and told me, 'Welcome home.' "

Law enforcement has been cracking down on corruption in South Florida’s drug treatment industry. State and federal officials have arrested more than 30 people for running scams in rehab centers or sober homes in the past year.

But the facilities are often filled with recovering drug users from out-of-state. And when the homes shut down, the residents frequently wind up on the street.

State legislators came to Palm Beach County Tuesday to discuss the opioid crisis.

An internet black market used by some Floridians to buy and sell heroin and fentanyl has been shut down in an international law enforcement operation.

Florida is enacting tough new penalties on dealers of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Delray Beach city officials have been hearing complaints from residents for years: sober homes are crowding us out.

The sober living facilities are intended to integrate recovering drug and alcohol users back into community life. But a lack of oversight coupled with widespread corruption has led to a proliferation of sober homes in some neighborhoods. A recent report estimated there are 247 sober homes operating in the city.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Accidental opioid overdoses by first responders are an alarming phenomenon.

Ty Hernandez was mending a broken heart when he felt a cold coming on.

His mom, Peggy, did the mom thing.

“You’ve got to rest and drink fluids.” she said. “The next morning, I left a note on the counter with some chicken noodle soup and said, ‘I hope you feel better. Call me if you need anything.’ And I went to work.”

Peter Haden/WLRN

The overdose call comes in to Delray Beach Fire Rescue around 7:30 p.m. on a Friday.

Firefighter-paramedics — they’re trained to do both — jump into action and rush to a nearby hotel. But before they can treat this victim, another call comes in.

Regina McNish knows her grandma – Lauderhill resident Dorrisile Dervis – by another name.

“Gran Dor,” said McNish. “‘Gran’ is ‘grandma’ in Creole. And ‘Dor’ is the first three letters of her name: Dorrisile.”

And Gran Dor is grand indeed. Born on Christmas Day in 1901, Gran Dor is 115 years old. That makes her the oldest living person in the United States.

Maybe.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office (Facebook)

Law enforcement officials are warning of a deadly new drug hitting South Florida streets called “grey death.”

A South Florida drug treatment provider will spend the next 27.5 years behind bars for operating a multimillion-dollar health care fraud and sex trafficking scheme.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks handed down the sentence Wednesday at the Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach. Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman, 47, of Boynton Beach, pleaded guilty in March to the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafaña said Chatman was a relatively small provider in the drug treatment industry, but he was, “the most dangerous.”

Kathy Kino has been helping people during some of their most vulnerable times since she began volunteering at a hospital when she was 13. She worked as a trauma nurse and a hospital chaplain for more than 15 years, and now she’s a nursing professor.

This is National Nurses Week, and Kino spoke with WLRN about how becoming a patient herself changed the way she thinks about her profession:

South Floridians poured into a community room at the West Palm Beach Police Department Monday for the first of four public workshops around the state on combating the opioid crisis.

The tour was announced in early April by Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinley summed up the feeling in the room.

The man had just risen from the dead.

He’s in his mid-20’s. Sitting on a couch in a house in Delray Beach. Pale as a ghost, sweaty, wide-eyed, disoriented.  Like he just woke up from a nightmare.

Hundreds of people packed a town hall meeting in Pahokee Friday with Florida Senate President Joe Negron. They say his proposal to build a 60,000-acre reservoir on prime farmland would be a plague to their region.

“The devastation from the loss of jobs is unimaginable at this point,” said lifelong Pahokee resident Lynda Moss. Her family owns a trucking business in the region.

[Read More about the Everglades and the efforts to restore it: River of Grass, Dying of Thirst]

China is the source of deadly fentanyl that’s fueling an opioid overdose epidemic in South Florida and elsewhere in the United States.

That’s the finding of the new report released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission entitled Fentanyl: China’s Deadly Export to the United States.

As the addiction recovery industry boomed in South Florida over the past decade, so did the number of recovery residences - also known as sober homes.

A task force is making recommendations to state legislators for cracking down on fraud in the addiction recovery industry.

The Palm Beach County Sober Homes Task Force is putting the finishing touches on a report headed to lawmakers in Tallahassee. It outlines strategies to better regulate drug treatment providers and sober homes.

Among the recommendations: Give the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) the ability to license and inspect commercial sober homes.

Addiction treatment is big business in Palm Beach County.

According to research conducted by the Palm Beach Post, it brings in more than $1 billion a year, making addiction treatment the county’s fourth largest industry – only behind tourism, construction and agriculture.

What can be done to stem the epidemic of opioid overdoses in South Florida?

The epidemic of opioid overdoses continues to grip Delray Beach. The city saw 75 heroin overdoses last month, with 4 of them fatal.

That’s a slight decrease from October, which brought an all-time high of 88 heroin overdoses resulting in 11 fatalities.

Delray Beach emergency personnel attribute the spike in overdoses to synthetic opioids like fentanyl being added to heroin sold on the street.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is more than 50 times more potent than heroin.

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