Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Midland County Facing New Risks From Failed Dams
EDM Friday Briefing: Midland County Facing New Risks From Failed Dams

EDM Friday Briefing: Midland County Facing New Risks From Failed Dams

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 19, 2020: Residents of Midland County are being warned away from lake beds and areas around failed dams due to erosion dangers; the Roosevelt Bridge in Florida has been closed indefinitely after a chunk of concrete fell and a large crack appeared; the U.S. State Department has issued a warning about increased piracy in the southern Gulf of Mexico; state-actor cyberattacks have allegedly increased in Australia and are targeting a broad range of sectors, including critical infrastructure; an earthquake near the Kermadec Islands briefly prompted a tsunami warning for some areas of New Zealand; Red Alert Heat Warnings have been issued for several provinces in eastern Canada as the summer solstice approaches; hand sanitizer with a high alcohol content is likely the cause of a vehicle fire that erupted in Waukegan, Illinois; and Missouri's governor is seeking a federal disaster declaration approval from President Trump for 19 counties.

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1) Residents in Midland County, Michigan are being warned to avoid the Wixom and Sanford lake beds and areas in and around the Edenville and Sanford Dams after their recent failures. Midland County Emergency Management officials warned residents that due to rapid changes in water levels and ongoing flows from the Beaverton Dam, the Tobacco River, and other tributaries, sinkholes are occurring. The sinkholes are being caused by erosion to the damaged remains of the dams. They have created soil instability, which can act like quicksand when walked upon, and anyone who gets sucked in will likely need rescue by first responders.

2) City officials in Stuart, Florida, were warned that a bridge was in danger of failing after the U.S. Coast Guard observed that a chunk of concrete had fallen into the water. A large crack had appeared in the Roosevelt Bridge, which spans the St. Lucie River. Concerned that the bridge was at imminent risk of failure, the bridge was closed to boat and vehicle traffic. It was inspected by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and engineers, who determined that although the bridge is not at imminent risk of failure, repairs are needed. Concrete from the crack is being tested for corrosion, but the bridge is to remain closed to vehicle traffic indefinitely.

3) There has been an increase in piracy in the Bay of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. State Department has issued a warning regarding the increased pirate activity, which threatens oil platforms and other installations as potential targets. The travel advisory noted that armed pirates have targeted and robbed commercial vessels, oil platforms, and offshore supply vessels for years in the area. Recently, the pirate attacks have increased at least 310 percent — with an estimated 197 attacks in 2018 compared to 48 attacks in 2016.

4) Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, stated that the country has seen an increase in cyberattacks from a state-based cyber actor with significant capabilities. Morrison made the announcement in an effort to raise public awareness of the attacks, although he did not name the state actor believed to be involved. The cyberattacks are targeting all levels of government and operators of critical infrastructure, including essential service providers, industry, education, health, and political organizations.

5) An earthquake that struck off the northeastern coast of New Zealand early Friday morning, briefly prompted a tsunami warning for coastal locations. The earthquake, a 7.4 magnitude, struck south of the Kermadec Islands — home to many active volcanoes — and was most strongly felt by residents on New Zealand's North Island. Although the tsunami warning was lifted a short time later, officials noted that strong and unusual currents along with unpredictable surges at the shore were possible.

6) As the summer solstice arrives, temperatures are expected to soar in parts of the Midwest, northern New England and eastern Canada. Officials are concerned that the high temperatures, which will be accompanied by excessive humidity, will push heat indices past 100 in Canada. The forecast heat wave has already prompted Red Alert Heat Warnings for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, along with southern regions of Manitoba and Ontario provinces.

7) Hand sanitizer left on a car dashboard appears to have ignited and set a vehicle on fire in Illinois. The Waukegan Fire Department is cautioning drivers to avoid leaving hand sanitizer in their vehicles after one owner left a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing 80 percent alcohol on the dashboard. The sanitizer appeared to have ignited and sparked a fire. According to reports, the bottle acted as a magnifying glass when it was left in direct sunlight and the alcohol was an accelerant due to its flammability.

8) Spring storms caused widespread damage to 19 counties in Missouri, prompting the governor to request a federal disaster declaration approval from President Trump. The governor cited excessive damage to critical public infrastructure, including electrical systems, after extensive damage assessments were conducted. Severe storms and tornadoes swept across the state on May 3 and 4 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which had already strapped many communities' emergency response costs.

 

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.