Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 4, 2019: Hurricane Dorian continues its trek north and may make landfall in the Carolinas; seven deaths have been reported so far in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian -- the strongest hurricane to ever strike the Bahamas; evacuation-challenged communities may benefit from a new study that analyzed data regarding evacuation routes; Virginia reveals its new EOP and streamlines its process for state of emergency declarations; the suspicious deaths of 10 patients at a VA hospital in West Virginia are under investigation; FEMA awards grant money to eight cities for Regional Catastrophic Preparedness; 34 people are presumed dead following a fire onboard a diving vessel overnight Monday off Santa Cruz Island; and the CDC stated that the backyard poultry salmonella outbreak has grown to over 1,000 people sickened across 49 states.
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1) Hurricane Dorian was downgraded to a Category 2 storm on Tuesday, as it continues its trek north-northwest along the east coast of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. On its current track, the hurricane will move dangerously close to the coast of Florida and Georgia tonight. Although it is eventually expected to make a turn to the north-northeast, the hurricane could make landfall along the coastal Carolinas on Thursday evening through Friday morning. Official forecasts indicate that multiple watches and warnings remain in effect along the path of Dorian, and residents in its path should closely monitor local reports and official orders.
The @NWSWPC has issued a High Risk area for flash flooding over eastern South Carolina & SE North Carolina for Thursday due to #Dorian. Very heavy rainfall totals of up 15 inches are possible. For more details see https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB or https://t.co/LsPr5wAy5h pic.twitter.com/Ngp4I0mMQ6
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 4, 2019
2) Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, reportedly making it the strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the Bahamas. The storm, which packed winds of 185 mph, lashed the Bahamas for two days, completely destroying at least 45 percent of the homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama Island. The death toll from Dorian increased to a total of seven Tuesday and left the Grand Bahama Airport under six feet of water.
At least 7 people are dead in the Bahamas because of #HurricaneDorian. Officials say the death toll is likely higher and aid groups say they are gathering bodies.
Rescuers are still trying to reach trapped people and 60,000 are in need of food and clean water. pic.twitter.com/xO6pkDjU9H
— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 4, 2019
3) A new study that highlights evacuation-challenged communities is now available free to government agencies to assist them with disaster evacuation planning. An analysis was conducted on 30,000 towns with populations under 40,000, where evacuation risks were assessed based on several factors. Factors included the number of routes out of town, average number of vehicles on routes each day and total population. The five states with the highest-rated evacuation-challenged communities included Florida (20), California (14), Arizona (8), Texas (6) and Washington (6).
The Most ‘Evacuation-Challenged’ Communities in the U.S. https://t.co/Kl1TfV5kuu
— Suzanne Bernier, CEM (@sbcrisis) September 3, 2019
4) The peak of hurricane season is here, and the Commonwealth of Virginia released its new Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP) on Tuesday, which included improvements to policies and plans for responding to major natural disasters such as hurricanes. The COVEOP is reportedly an all-hazards plan that outlines the responsibilities of state agencies in their support of emergency operations during a disaster. The process by which a state of emergency is declared was also streamlined, along with the delegation of authority to waive certain registration, licensing and permit requirements by state agencies to speed recovery efforts.
Gov. Ralph Northam has issued the new Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan, which lays out improvements to policies and plans for responding to hurricanes or other major natural disasters in Virginia. https://t.co/myNyDUlYdM pic.twitter.com/hEIx8A5H1B
— CGZero (@AugFreePress) September 4, 2019
5) The deaths of 10 patients at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarskburg, West Virginia, are being investigated as suspicious. The suspicious deaths are all linked by the administration of lethal doses of insulin to patients who were not being treated for diabetes or high blood sugar. A person of interest is currently under investigation by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General in conjunction with federal law enforcement partners.
A veteran's family claims he was killed in a VA medical center. 11 deaths in the facility are now under investigation https://t.co/ekUpv43FAy
— Gregory W Berg (@GregoryWBerg) August 28, 2019
6) September is National Preparedness Month, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded eight cities grant money to help them with preparedness planning, including Boston, Massachusetts, and Snohomish County, Washington. The Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant is awarded to select cities by FEMA to help build local capacity to respond to and manage catastrophic disasters. As part of National Preparedness Month, FEMA, along with local emergency management agencies, is encouraging residents to ensure preparedness by developing disaster plans for their homes, schools, communities and businesses.
Boston receives $1.4 million regional preparedness grant to help in disasters https://t.co/ZruUzOGz2a
— Boston 25 News (@boston25) September 3, 2019
7) Investigators still have not determined the cause of the fire onboard a dive boat in open water near Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California that killed at least 34 people overnight on Monday. The search for survivors was suspended by the Coast Guard Tuesday morning. A total of 20 bodies have been found, including nine males and 11 females, and another four bodies were found in the hollowed wreckage by divers. All the passengers and one crew member were asleep below deck when the fire broke out. The captain, along with four other crew members, escaped in a dinghy to a nearby docked boat.
— KRON4 News (@kron4news) September 4, 2019
8) The salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry has now sickened more than 1,000 people in 49 states. That is an increase of 235 people since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last reported case numbers in July. Ohio and Tennessee top the states with the highest number of reported cases, with Ohio having 73 people sickened, followed by Tennessee with a total of 67 cases. At least 192 of the 850 cases where age was reported, were children under the age of 5. So far, a total of six strains that have been causing the illnesses have been identified through testing.
— 7News Boston WHDH (@7News) September 3, 2019