Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Early Morning Blast in Houston Leaves One Missing, Another Injured
EDM Friday Briefing: Early Morning Blast in Houston Leaves One Missing, Another Injured

EDM Friday Briefing: Early Morning Blast in Houston Leaves One Missing, Another Injured


Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 24, 2020: Tennessee and Texas are testing two university students for the 2019-nCoV; China shut down multiple cities due to the coronavirus outbreak, affecting at least 24 million people; WHO warns that China is high-risk for coronavirus spread, but has not declared the 2019-nCoV a global health emergency; a seaside town in Spain was inundated with thick sea foam after a winter storm; the discovery of hundreds of military explosives evacuated neighborhood homes in Stockton, California; school officials in Jackson County, Arkansas, closed area schools due to an outbreak of the flu; three U.S. military veterans are dead after their firefighting air tanker crashed in rural Australia; and an early-morning explosion damages homes and businesses in northwest Houston and leaves one employee missing.

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1) China now states that 26 people have died from the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Japan and South Korea have each confirmed second cases of the virus, and the United States is testing two students -- one at Texas A&M and one at Tennessee Technology University for possible infection of the coronavirus. Other countries have confirmed multiple cases of the coronavirus, including Thailand and Vietnam. China confirmed that the total number of cases has reached at least 840, with one person now having died near Beijing -- a location outside the virus epicenter.

2) In an attempt to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, being referred to as 2019-nCoV, China shut down multiple cities, including Chibi, Ezhou, Huanggang, Lichuan, Qianjiang, Wuhan, Xiantoa, and Zhijiang, which affected approximately 24 million people. The shutdown in Wuhan includes public transportation services. Airports and train stations were temporarily closed, with airlines and rail operators offering refunds for domestic tickets.

3) The World Health Organization (WHO) held two meetings regarding the 2019-nCoV outbreak, but has yet to declare the coronavirus a global public health emergency. WHO officials did note that while the outbreak is an emergency in China, it has not yet become a global emergency. Regionally and globally, the outbreak is being noted as high-risk, and efforts to develop a vaccination are already in high gear.

4) Parts of Spain were battered by a winter storm that cut power, closed roads and schools, and flooded the streets of a seaside town near Barcelona with sea foam. The storm brought heavy snow, rain, and gale-force winds that pounded Spain for two days. On Tuesday, high waves caused by the storm generated sea foam and crashed ashore, inundating the coastal town of Tossa de Mar with floodwater and a thick layer of sea foam. Officials said the sea foam did not pose an immediate threat to humans.

5) Homes in a California neighborhood were evacuated after military explosives were found in the home of a deceased individual. The 70-year-old man who lived in Stockton, died of apparent natural causes. However, emergency responders found hundreds of military explosives in the home, prompting calls to the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield and the police bomb squad. The neighborhood evacuation affected approximately 20 homes, and additional military personnel were called in to assist with the removal of the explosives.

6) School administrators made the decision to cancel classes at schools in Jackson County, Arkansas, on Friday due to a widespread outbreak of the flu. A high amount of staff and student absences led to the decision, including the inability to find enough substitute teachers amid the outbreak. The cancellation of classes allows a thorough deep-cleaning of the buildings and individual classrooms to prevent further spreading of the flu, which has already led to the deaths of 27 people in the state.

7) Three American firefighters, who were also U.S. military veterans, were killed when their C-130 Hercules air tanker plane, owned by private firefighting company Coulson Aviation, crashed in Australia. The three crew members killed were part of a group of 100 firefighters from the United States who were assisting Australia in their efforts to combat the devastating bushfires that have been scourging the nation since September. The plane had left Richmond with a load of flame retardant for a "firebombing mission" when the crash occurred in rural Australia.

8) An early-morning explosion at Watson Valve Services in northwest Houston on Friday rocked homes and businesses up to at least a half-mile away. One employee is unaccounted for, and another person was transported to the hospital with injuries sustained from the blast. Crews were working to close valves releasing chemical compound polypropylene -- a lighter-than-air chemical -- to help contain the fire before they were able to look for anyone missing or to assess damages. Fire and police officials said that the blast caused heavy damage to area businesses and homes, and debris from the blast was scattered up to a half-mile away.


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.