Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Goats Help Reduce Vegetation in Contra Costa Ahead of Predicted Historic Wildfire Season
EDM Friday Briefing: Goats Help Reduce Vegetation in Contra Costa Ahead of Predicted Historic Wildfire Season

EDM Friday Briefing: Goats Help Reduce Vegetation in Contra Costa Ahead of Predicted Historic Wildfire Season

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 31, 2019: Record high temperatures prompted red flag warnings in South Carolina and Georgia; Contra Costa enlists the help of goats to reduce vegetation ahead of a predicted historic wildfire season; residents in Holla Bend were evacuated after the Dardanelle Levee failed along the Arkansas River; a levee break on Durgen's Creek prompted evacuations in West Quincy, Missouri late Thursday; the NWS confirmed that a possible EF-1 tornado touched down in Howard County, Maryland; community health centers in Oklahoma go above and beyond to meet resident needs in the wake of recent disasters across the state; the expanding bull's-eye effect places an increasing number of people in harm's way from disasters; and the Chuckegg Creek Fire exceeds half a million acres after critical fire weather causes a rapid expansion of the blaze.

1) As the Midwest battles severe weather outbreaks, the South has been experiencing record-breaking triple-digit temperatures, which prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue fire weather alerts in parts of South Carolina and Georgia through late Thursday. The urgent alert came after four consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures, which put the region around Charleston, SC, under a red flag warning until late Thursday. Conditions were hot and breezy, including winds up to 25 mph, and Savannah Airport broke its 1898 record with a recorded 101 degrees. The NWS noted that with the high temperatures and a relatively low humidity of around 25 percent, critical fire weather conditions existed and they urged people to use extreme caution.

2) In preparation for what is predicted to be a historically dangerous fire season, Contra Costa, California, has enlisted the services of goats to help reduce available fuels for wildfires. A winter filled with above-average rainfall has provided an abundance of vegetation, which the 3,500 goats are now busily eating. County officials stated that homeowners also have until mid-June to clear vegetation from around their homes, creating defensible space that during a rapidly spreading wildfire could mean the difference between life and death.

3) Record crests of the Arkansas River are expected in at least six places, prompting major concerns that levees may fail due to the length of time they have held back an unprecedented amount of water. One levee has already failed; the Dardanelle Levee began leaking Thursday afternoon and fully breached around 12:45 a.m. Friday morning, prompting an evacuation of Holla Bend. Officials at the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management noted that additional levees may fail, as river crestings are predicted to last through June 7.

4) Residents of West Quincy, Missouri, were forced to evacuate after a levee on Durgens Creek, which flows into the Mississippi River, failed late Thursday. Across Missouri, more than 300 roads were reportedly under water, and emergency management officials warn that the flooding is not over yet. Weather forecasts call for additional showers and thunderstorms across the region throughout the weekend. Runoff from heavy rainfalls can take a month or more to flow to the Mississippi Delta, which could prolong flooding in areas already hard-hit by heavy rainfall and floods.

5) A possible EF-1 tornado touched down in Howard County, Maryland on Thursday afternoon, when severe storms -- which wreaked havoc earlier in the week across the Midwest -- swept across the region. The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado did touch down, damaging roofs and uprooting trees along a 5.5-mile stretch. The severe thunderstorms, which were capable of producing tornadoes, also left thousands without power in both Maryland and Virginia.

6) Severe weather poses higher risks for vulnerable populations, including the poor, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses, and local health centers often work with first responders when disasters strike. As severe weather impacted Oklahoma, local community health centers reached out to help lessen the impact to the most vulnerable populations by providing areas of shelter as severe weather approached and collecting donations for individuals who lost their homes. One community health center located in a rural area, the Stigler Health and Wellness Center, also worked to ensure that individuals with diabetes still had access to the life-saving drug insulin, while helping to address other immediate medical issues of those in need.

7) The population across the United States is at an all-time high, which leaves more people vulnerable to disasters. A recent study noted that as the population has expanded, developers have paved over farms and rural lands in areas where severe weather causes natural disasters, leading to the expanding bull's-eye effect. The Moore, Oklahoma, tornado in 2013 is a stark example of how just 30 years earlier, the EF-5 tornado that killed 24 people and injured 212 victims would largely have swept through rural farmland at its widest and most destructive width. Safety education, stricter building codes, and an increase in the availability of tornado shelters and safe rooms are said to be the keys to helping prevent the additional loss of life from disasters.

8) The Chuckegg Creek Fire has now grown to more than half a million acres in Alberta, Canada, as about 5,000 people remain evacuated from the area. The wildfire, burning near the town of High Level, spread rapidly due to strong winds, and exhibited extreme fire behavior. The strong winds have proved a challenge to firefighting efforts and safety, and there is concern the blaze may reach gigafire status. The wildfire, which began during the week of May 12, has already scorched 568,000 acres and continues to threaten the town of High Level. Firefighters continue working to protect structures amid gusty winds.

 

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.