Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Great Falls Officials Prepared for Early Winter Storm
EDM Friday Briefing: Great Falls Officials Prepared for Early Winter Storm

EDM Friday Briefing: Great Falls Officials Prepared for Early Winter Storm

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 27, 2019: Hurricane Lorenzo is the most intensive Category 4 storm to form so far to the east in the Atlantic Ocean; Utah residents can download a comprehensive app to ensure preparedness and receive alerts during natural hazards; officials in Great Falls, Montana, say they are prepared for an intensive and severe early season winter storm bearing down on the area; a recently released Department of Defense report indicated an alarming rise in suicide rates among active-duty servicemembers; a moderate 5.7 earthquake struck Istanbul Thursday afternoon damaging buildings and mosques across the city; vaping-related illnesses continue to rise across the nation as the death toll climbs to 12; a major gas leak prompted the evacuation of businesses and residents in Lawrence, Massachusetts, early Friday; and farmers and ranchers plagued by multiple and ongoing natural hazards in Mississippi are eligible to receive aid from the USDA FSA.

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1) Hurricane Lorenzo has strengthened into a large and intense Category 4 storm churning far to the east in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most intense Category 4 storm that has formed this far east in the Atlantic Ocean, with a minimum central pressure of 937 mb, or 27.67 inches of mercury, and maximum sustained winds of 145 mph. The large storm currently poses no threat to land but could possibly impact the Azores sometime early next week.

2) Natural hazards can impact families and businesses throughout the year, and preparedness can help minimize those impacts. An all-inclusive app is now available from the Red Cross in Utah (and other states) that combines more than 35 alerts, including those for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes and wildfires. The app can also help prepare individuals and families for what to do during emergencies such as snowstorms and mudslides, and can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.

3) A record-breaking fall storm is approaching the Great Falls, Montana, area, and city-county officials stated that they are ready for the potentially severe early snowfall. The storm is expected to begin Friday evening or early Saturday morning. Officials are cautioning residents to remain indoors, stay off the roads and use caution when venturing outside due to potentially icy conditions. Potential snowfall amounts for higher elevations are anywhere from 8-12 inches of snow, with up to one to two inches of accumulation in lower elevations and valleys. Officials cautioned farmers, gardeners and ranchers to harvest frost-sensitive produce and protect irrigation systems ahead of the approaching storm.

4) A Department of Defense report released on Thursday showed a record-high suicide rate among active-duty servicemembers in 2018. According to the report, for every 100,000 servicemembers, 24.8 committed suicide, up from 21.7 in 2017 and 21.5 in 2016.  The study found that the suicides were primarily among active-duty military men, aged 30 or below, who used a gun to kill themselves. Overall, the National Guard had the highest suicide rate.

5) A moderate 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday, damaging buildings across the city and causing some minor injuries. Mobile phone communications were disrupted after the quake, and primary and middle schools were ordered closed for the remainder of the day. Istanbul sits atop three criss-crossing major seismic fault lines, and the earthquake -- which according to the U.S. Geological Survey was centered about 44 miles west of the city in the Marmara Sea -- struck at a depth of about 7.8 miles.

6) Vaping-related illness continue to rise across the nation, with the number of deaths jumping from seven to 12 in just a week. According to reports, the outbreak shows no sign of slowing. The number of confirmed and probable illnesses has risen from 530 to 805, with deaths reported in 10 states. An investigation into the mysterious illness is underway by U.S. public health officials. Massachusetts has been sued by one vape store owner after it placed a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products.

7) A major gas leak that started around 3:00 a.m. on Friday prompted the evacuation of homes and businesses in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Repairs are reportedly underway as crews go door-to-door to ensure gas has not migrated into homes. Columbia Gas reportedly shut off service in the immediate area, which was also the scene of the deadly gas explosion in September 2018 that killed one person, injured nearly two dozen others, and devastated homes and businesses in the Merrimack Valley.

8) Farmers and ranchers in 45 counties in Mississippi are eligible for emergency assistance after a disaster declaration was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Producers in the affected counties who suffered losses due to freeze, excessive rainfall, flooding and flash flooding that occurred since January 15, 2019, may be eligible for emergency loans from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Emergency loans of up to 100 percent of production loss or the amount needed to restore operations to pre-disaster conditions, whichever is less, are available. The deadline to apply is April 7, 2020.

 

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.