Greg Allen

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and human interest features. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.

Allen was a key part of NPR's coverage of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, providing some of the first reports on the disaster. He was on the frontlines of NPR's coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, arriving in New Orleans before the storm hit and filing on the chaos and flooding that hit the city as the levees broke. Allen's reporting played an important role in NPR's coverage of the aftermath and the rebuilding of New Orleans, as well as in coverage of the BP oil spill which brought new hardships to the Gulf coast.

As NPR's only correspondent in Florida, Allen covered the dizzying boom and bust of the state's real estate market, the state's important role in the 2008 presidential election and has produced stories highlighting the state's unique culture and natural beauty, from Miami's Little Havana to the Everglades.

Allen has spent more than three decades in radio news, the first ten as a reporter in Ohio and Philadelphia and the last as an editor, producer and reporter at NPR.

Before moving into reporting, Allen served as the executive producer of NPR's national daily live call-in show, Talk of the Nation. As executive producer he handled the day-to-day operations of the program as well as developed and produced remote broadcasts with live audiences and special breaking news coverage. He was with Talk of the Nation from 2000 to 2002.

Prior to that position, Allen spent three years as a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition, developing stories and interviews, shaping the program's editorial direction, and supervising the program's staff. In 1993, he started a four year stint as an editor with Morning Edition just after working as Morning Edition's swing editor, providing editorial and production supervision in the early morning hours. Allen also worked for a time as the editor of NPR's National Desk.

Before coming to NPR, Allen was a reporter with NPR member station WHYY-FM in Philadelphia from 1987 to 1990.

His radio career includes serving as the producer of Freedom's Doors Media Project — five radio documentaries on immigration in American cities that was distributed through NPR's Horizons series — frequent freelance work with NPR, Monitor Radio, Voice of America, and WHYY-FM, and work as a reporter/producer of NPR member station WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Allen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977, with a B.A. cum laude. As a student and after graduation, Allen worked at WXPN-FM, the public radio station on campus, as a host and producer for a weekly folk music program that included interviews, features, live and recorded music.

The Supreme Court decision Friday that upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry was one for the history books. Obergefell v. Hodges was exalted by gay rights groups and their supporters, and condemned by those who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say that the fight is far from over.

Marco Rubio, at just 44, is the youngest major presidential candidate in the 2016 field. The Florida senator is one of the rising stars of the Republican Party — and the roots of that rise started in a small city just outside Miami.

West Miami is less than a square mile. It's a tight-knit community of just over 6,000 people. This is where Marco Rubio grew up.

The island of Puerto Rico is caught in an economic crisis. While the rest of the U.S. is seeing economic growth, Puerto Rico is struggling to emerge from nine years of recession. The poor economy has spurred hundreds of thousands to leave the island.

The U.S territory is more than $72 billion in debt, running low on cash and on the verge of default.

Ten years ago, the U.S. experienced its busiest hurricane season ever recorded. The year saw 28 named storms — 15 of them hurricanes — including Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast. Four major hurricanes hit the U.S. in 2005, beginning in July with Hurricane Dennis.

Puerto Rico used to produce some of the best coffee in the world — but that was more than a century ago.

Today, Puerto Rico's coffee crop is just a fraction of what it was then, and little is exported. But there's a movement on the island to improve quality and rebuild Puerto Rico's coffee industry.

As a U.S. territory with tropical weather and beautiful beaches, Puerto Rico has a lot going for it. But there are downsides to living on an island. A big one is the cost of energy.

All the electricity on the island is distributed by the government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, also known as PREPA. Power on the island costs more than in any U.S. state, except Hawaii.

And that's not the biggest problem.

Although it's a tropical island, perhaps surprisingly, Puerto Rico produces very little of its own food. After decades of industrialization, the U.S. territory imports more than 80 percent of what's consumed on the island. There are signs, though, the trend is changing.

The island of Puerto Rico is many things: a tropical paradise, a U.S. territory and an economic mess. After years of deficits, state-owned institutions in Puerto Rico owe investors some $73 billion. That's four times the debt that forced Detroit into bankruptcy two years ago. The bill is now due.

It's been a week of goodbyes at the Homeless Voice in Hollywood, Fla. For nearly 13 years, this rundown, 22-room hotel operated as a homeless shelter.

On most nights, hotel manager Christine Jordan says, more than 200 homeless men and women stayed here, some sleeping on mats in the cafeteria.

"We called this the emergency level ... almost 40 people in here every night," she says. Some stayed for free and others paid on a sliding scale. "[Now], everything's gone. I can't cry anymore."

Termites are among the world's most destructive pests, causing more than a billion dollars in damage each year in the U.S. alone. Scientists in Florida have tracked the development of a new hybrid species of termite — one whose colonies grow twice as fast as the parent species.

Researchers say the new "super-termite" is even more destructive than other species and may carry a significant economic cost.

A record number of inmates – 346 people — died behind bars in Florida last year.

Most were from natural causes, but a series of suspicious deaths have raised questions about safety in the prisons. Federal and state law enforcement agencies are now investigating why so many inmates have been dying.

Latandra Ellington, 36, was serving time for tax fraud at Lowell Correctional Institution in central Florida when she died. Algarene Jennings, Ellington's aunt, believes she was murdered.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In Florida, archaeologists are investigating a site that a century ago sparked a scientific controversy. Today, it's just a strip of land near an airport.

But in 1915, it was a spot that became world-famous because of the work of Elias Sellards, Florida's state geologist. Sellards led a scientific excavation of the site, where workers digging a drainage canal found fossilized animal bones and then, human remains.

Andy Hemmings of Mercyhurst University is the lead archaeologist on a project that has picked up where Sellards left off a century ago.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The FDA is considering whether to approve the experimental use of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help stop the spread of dengue fever and other diseases. Mosquito control officials in the region say they hope to get approval to begin releasing the insects in the Keys as soon as this spring.

There are few places in the United States where mosquito control is as critical as the Florida Keys. In this southernmost county of the continental U.S., mosquitoes are a year-round public health problem and controlling them is a top priority.

New rules that went into effect on Friday mark the biggest change in U.S. relations with Cuba in more than 50 years.

While tourism remains off-limits, the Obama administration opened new opportunities in Cuba for banks, airlines, telecommunications companies and regular Americans.

For the first time in decades, under the new rules, Americans who don't have family on the island can travel to Cuba without receiving special permission from the U.S. government.

No Tourists Allowed — Yet

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Since President Obama's announcement that he wants to normalize relations with Cuba, the U.S. Coast Guard says there has been a spike in the number of Cubans leaving their homeland on rafts and boats.

They're coming, officials say, because of a rumor in Cuba that the U.S. will soon change the policy that allows Cubans who reach the U.S. to remain in the country legally.

The commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, Rear Adm. Jake Korn, says 481 Cubans attempted to reach the U.S. on rafts and boats last month — double the amount seen in December 2013.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Today, Florida became the 36th state to legalize gay marriage after an extended legal battle in state and federal courts. NPR's Greg Allen was at the courthouse in Miami for today's ruling.

Just north of Boston, the Northeast Animal Shelter is one of the largest private shelters in New England. Founded in the 1970s, it went through a big expansion about six years ago, building a new, 13,000-square-foot shelter with three isolation rooms.

The rooms were designed to house the increasing number of dogs the shelter transports from other states and Puerto Rico.

It's been 20 years since San Francisco helped start a revolution: It became the first U.S. community to guarantee a home to every adoptable dog and cat.

Since then, the no-kill movement, as it's called, has been credited with greatly reducing the number of dogs and cats that are euthanized, from some 20 million down to about 3 million each year.

Miami's Jose de Diego Middle School, like many schools in South Florida designed to provide hurricane protection and energy efficiency, has few windows and large expanses of facade almost begging for decoration.

Few people track Miami development closer than Peter Zalewski. He runs Cranespotters.com, a business that keeps tabs on all the new construction proposed in downtown Miami.

In an area that covers less than 4 square miles, he notes, there's a lot going on. In "downtown Miami, we're looking at 69 towers, 18,400 units," all residential condominiums, Zalewski says.

If history is any guide, not all of the projects will be built. But Zalewski says there are other big projects coming that are likely to add to the total.

From parrots to pythons, monkeys to lionfish, Florida is home to hundreds of exotic and invasive species. Wildlife officials try to control some species; others, Floridians just learn to live with.

And then there's the giant African land snail. It's a particularly slimy pest that Florida officials are determined to eradicate.

The snails, which can be up to 8 inches long, eat almost any plant. They devour gardens, carry disease and leave behind a trail of foul-smelling mucus.

Miami-Dade County's sex offender residency restrictions — some of the tightest in the country — drew national attention a few years ago when an encampment of sex offenders sprang up on a causeway in Biscayne Bay. After a public outcry, local and state authorities evicted several dozen people, mostly men, from that makeshift settlement.

Just about everyone loves puppies. But around the country, there's heated disagreement about where, and from whom, people can get one.

While the large national pet store chains don't sell dogs, other chains and shops do. But in several states, including Florida, cities are passing laws that ban puppy sales in pet stores.

At the Petland store in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, customers come in all day long to look at and play with the puppies. At this store, in fact, doggie accessories and puppies are all that owner Vicki Siegel sells.

It's been a strong business year for the nation's theme parks, with a notable exception: SeaWorld.

The company, which has parks in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla., saw its attendance drop in recent months. The company blames that, in part, on fallout from Blackfish, a documentary film that's critical of SeaWorld's treatment of its captive killer whales.

In southwest Florida, county officials are fighting the state over a new oil drilling process that's known by many different names: acidification, acidizing, acid stimulation and acid fracking.

Collier County has charged that state regulators have been lax in their oversight of the drilling, jeopardizing public health and the environment.

Every day, you can see signs of a subtle change in relations between Cuba and the U.S. at Miami International Airport.

More Cubans than ever before are coming to the U.S. to visit, and the number of Cuban-Americans traveling back to the island is also at record levels. With all the visitors, money and goods are now traveling to the island from the United States.

It's a legal loophole in the 50-year-old trade embargo — one that's having a real impact on Cuba's economy, and allowing Cuban-Americans to become investors in Cuba's emerging private sector.

Pages