EDM Wednesday Briefing: Irma Destroys Florida’s Citrus Crop; Volcano Eruption Imminent
Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 27, 2017: Irma devastates at least 70 percent of Florida’s citrus crops, the West Nile death toll has risen to seven in Los Angeles County, Southern California’s wildfire risk is heightened until the end of the week, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are evacuated ahead of Tropical Storm Maria’s impacts, receding floodwaters in Texas leave behind hazardous materials, officials are now calling the situation in Puerto Rico a humanitarian crisis, nearly 75,000 people evacuate in Bali as fears of a Mount Agung eruption mount, and the swift moving Canyon Fire forces the evacuation of nearly 1,500 people in Southern California.
- Secondary impacts from Hurricane Irma continue to plague Florida. The storm’s destructive winds and heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on the states' citrus crops, knocking fruit off the trees, breaking limbs, snapping and uprooting trees, and flooding groves. Loss estimates are still being assessed, however, recent surveys point to at least a 70 percent loss of citrus trees statewide.
- In Los Angeles County, California, the death toll from the West Nile virus, a disease transmitted by mosquito bites, has hit 7, with at least 98 reported cases so far this year–70 percent of which were considered serious. For most individuals, West Nile causes few, if any symptoms, but in others, the disease may cause serious–and even permanent–life threatening symptoms including paralysis and permanent brain damage. Health officials are asking residents to take proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellant and avoiding standing, stagnant water.
- The wildfire risk in Southern California has heightened until the end of the week as a ridge of high pressure creates an offshore flow of air and brings heat, dry air, and locally gusty winds throughout the area. In an effort to address fires quickly, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has increased its staffing to ensure an adequate and rapid response. San Diego CalFire Crews have been fully staffed and prepared since early summer and both departments believe they are fully prepared to address any fire outbreak quickly and effectively.
- The Outer Banks in North Carolina are bracing for impacts from Tropical Storm Maria as evacuation orders were issued throughout the islands. On Tuesday, an evacuation order was issued for Dare County, and according to officials, about 10,000 people evacuated Hatteras Island ahead of the storm and schools were closed. The National Hurricane Center issued a storm surge warning from Ocracoke Inlet to Cape Hatteras, with the worst of the impacts occurring from Wednesday into Thursday morning, with dangerous rip currents likely the rest of the week along the coastline.
- Receding floodwaters in Texas following Hurricane Harvey have revealed other hazards, including what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states are 517 containers of “unidentified, and potentially hazardous material.” The containers were found floating or washed up along waterways in Texas after floodwaters receded, and the EPA states that the containers are not related to the two highly contaminated Superfund sites in Houston that were flooded as a result of Harvey’s torrential rains. The record rainfall and unprecedented floodwaters also impacted another Superfund site situated by the Vince Bayou that is contaminated with dangerous cancer causing chemicals.
- Officials are now calling the situation in Puerto Rico a humanitarian crisis due to the nearly total loss of basic human needs, including food, water, and shelter. Access to remote towns and villages has been limited and difficult, but FEMA now has over 10,000 people working around the clock in Puerto Rico to help distribute aid and help the millions of people devastated by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that slammed into the island last week. The main airport and shipping ports were heavily damaged by the storm, however repairs have allowed aid to begin flowing onto the island.
- Tens of thousands are fleeing the area around the Mount Agung volcano in Bali as seismic activity reaches unprecedented levels underneath the volcano. Volcanologists recorded 844 volcanic earthquakes on Monday, and at least 400 by Tuesday afternoon–activity they believe is likely to lead to an eruption in what could be a matter of hours. Increased seismic activity of this type is a result of magma movement, which increases the probability of an eruption. https://twitter.com/cnnbrk/status/912690827536637952
- Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes as firefighters battled a swift moving blaze in Southern California dubbed the Canyon Fire. The fire, burning along the Anaheim-Corona border, began Monday around 1:00 p.m. near the 91 Freeway at Coal Canyon Road, and as of Tuesday, had consumed at least 2,000 acres and threatened multiple homes. A unified command composed of Anaheim, Corona, and Los Angeles County fire departments, along with the U.S. Forest Service, OCFA (Orange County Fire Authority), and CalFire was established, as more than 300 firefighters worked to save homes and contain the fire.
— Farrow (@FarrowNews) September 25, 2017
— John and Ken (@johnandkenshow) September 27, 2017
— FEMA (@fema) September 26, 2017