Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Record Heat Has Alaska on High Wildfire Alert
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Record Heat Has Alaska on High Wildfire Alert

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Record Heat Has Alaska on High Wildfire Alert

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 3, 2019: California has a new law that helps protect the elderly from abandonment at senior living facilities; Japan orders the evacuation of over one million residents after torrential rainfalls inundate Kyushu; a recall has been issued for fresh produce that was produced by Grower's Express for Green Giant, Trader Joe's and others for potential listeria contamination; an IT director in a Florida city was reportedly terminated following a malware attack that compromised the city's data systems; MRSA has been confirmed in 12 patients at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; record heat in Alaska is fueling wildfires and prompting dense smoke advisories; the Hurricane Irma threat in 2017 prompted a revamp of the Emergency Management Division in Hillsborough County, Florida; and the Campbell Park wildfire that broke out in East Anchorage late Tuesday afternoon sparked a rapid response to protect nearby residents.

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1) California has enacted a new law meant to protect the elderly following the abandonment of about 100 residents at two senior living facilities operated by Oakmont Senior Living in Santa Rosa during the 2017 wildfire season. A new bill, S.B. 214, was signed into law last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which increases civil penalties for caregivers who abandon residents in senior care homes across the state. During the Tubbs wildfire, one of the Santa Rosa facilities -- Villa Capri -- burned to the ground. If relatives and first responders had not arrived to rescue them, about 20 residents would have died.

2) Over one million people in Japan have been ordered to evacuate after torrential rains have threatened widespread flooding and triggered small landslides. Torrential rainfall amounts have inundated parts of Japan's southernmost island, Kyushu, with nearly 40 inches of rain since Friday, prompting the evacuation orders. The rainfall has already triggered several small landslides, including one that swept away several cars and caused minor injuries to a mother and child.

3) A fresh produce recall has been issued for Green Giant and Trader Joe's labeled products, among others, due to potential listeria contamination. The fresh produce products, which originated in Biddeford, Maine, at a Grower's Express production facility, were distributed to 30 states -- stretching from the East Coast to the Midwest. The products were produced under different labels and sold at several different chain grocery stores. The recall was voluntarily issued by the production company after a single sample tested positive for listeria monocytogenes by the Massachusetts Department of Health.

4) A city in Florida has reportedly terminated its IT director following a ransomware attack that compromised data systems for about three weeks. The ransomware attack in Lake City, Florida, cost the city $460,000 (42 Bitcoin) to unlock compromised data systems, including its servers, phones, and email accounts. All but $10,000 was covered by insurance. It is the second instance in Florida where malware attacks have shut down systems and forced cities to pay hackers for decryption keys to get networks back online.

5) UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh released a statement indicating that six staff members and six newborn babies have tested positive for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The hospital also confirmed that several more tests are pending, including one NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) patient who was reportedly symptomatic. According to reports, the hospital has and is following guidelines for isolation protocols and infection control procedures set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

6) Record heat in Alaska is fueling wildfires and prompting dense smoke advisories as temperatures soared to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in Anchorage on Sunday. Officials in Fairbanks issued evacuation orders on Sunday for residents near the Shovel Creek wildfire, as firefighters work to keep the fire from spreading to residential areas to the east and south. The wildfire, which was sparked by lighting on June 21, has already scorched over 10,000 acres. It is only eight percent contained and is under the command of an Alaskan Type 2 Incident Command Team.

7) Hillsborough County, Florida, which is home to Tampa, has worked diligently to revamp its Emergency Management Division following a threat by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The potential Category 5 storm set the county into overdrive to prepare for a possible direct hit, revealing large gaps in emergency management planning, training and programs. The county has since hardened its four field operations centers, improved special needs shelters, implemented damage assessment and communication tools such as Survey 123, Collector and WebEOC, and developed a new training plan.

8) A wildfire that erupted in east Anchorage Tuesday afternoon at around 4:30 p.m. quickly consumed 25 acres and prompted a rapid response by firefighters to contain the blaze. The fast-moving Campbell Park Fire prompted a small evacuation of a nearby neighborhood. Nearly 100 firefighters scrambled to help contain the fire, along with the help of three water-dropping helicopters. Firefighters noted that the hot, dry weather in the area has led to hazardous fire conditions that helped fuel the brush fire, which broke out in the heavily wooded Campbell Park area in East Anchorage.

 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.