Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 4, 2020: 21 people remain missing after deadly tornadoes sweep through Nashville; Tennessee has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the tornadoes that killed at least 24 people; the number of coronavirus cases rise globally as cases in China decline; the coronavirus outbreak in Japan may lead to a postponement of the 2020 Olympics; brush fires in New South Wales, Australia, are finally extinguished after more than 240 days; strong storms continue to threaten the South with heavy rainfall and a flooding threat; in light of recent natural disasters, experts urge families to be prepared with an emergency plan and kit; and positive train control interoperability levels increase among Class I railroads, while commuters lag behind.
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1) Deadly tornadoes swept through Nashville overnight into Tuesday, killing 24 people across four counties. Putnam County was hardest hit with 16 deaths and 21 people who remain missing. Weather officials are unsure yet if it was multiple tornadoes or a single tornado that touched down several times in several locations. The National Weather Service (NWS) has rated the tornadoes' strength at an EF-3 in three locations, including East Nashville and Mt. Juliet.
Drone video showed storm damage in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, which is located east of Nashville.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 3, 2020
2) Tennessee has declared a state of emergency in the wake of the deadly tornadoes that touched down in and near Nashville overnight into Tuesday. The swath of destruction from the tornadoes includes an airport and towns in four counties, where many people remain without power. Schools are closed and damage assessments continue across the area, with four shelters open for displaced residents, including one that accepts pets.
Tennessee governor declares state of emergency after deadly storms damage several neighborhoods.https://t.co/cuWf6teZAZ
— FreightWaves (@FreightWaves) March 3, 2020
3) The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise globally, while cases in China continue to decline. Iran, Italy, and South Korea account for the majority of the global cases, with the World Health Organization (WHO) increasing the death rate to 3.4 percent. According to WHO officials, people have not built immunity to the virus since COVID-19 is new. This increases the chance people will get sick, with some people experiencing more severe symptoms.
— Breaking the News 24/7 (@Breaking24Seven) March 3, 2020
4) As the cases of coronavirus rise in Japan, Japanese officials may delay the 2020 Summer Olympics. The start date of the Olympics is July 24, but the COVID-19 outbreak has sickened 1,000 people and killed one person in the country. The majority of those infected were from the Princess Diamond cruise ship, but there are fears the virus could continue spreading. Japan is looking to postpone the Olympics to a later date in 2020, noting that their Olympic contract appears to allow for postponement.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed from the summer until later in the year, according to Japan's Olympic minister because of the coronavirus.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 3, 2020
5) The devastating and deadly brush fires that have plagued the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) are finally out. The wildfires, which began more than 240 days ago, killed at least 33 people, destroyed about 3,000 homes and scorched more than 13.3 million acres. Torrential rainfall helped extinguish the fires but brought new devastation to the state, including major flooding, damaging winds and dangerous surf.
For the first time since early July 2019, there is currently no active bush or grass fires in #NSW. That’s more than 240 days of fire activity for the state. #nswfires #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/NpjF3lAHKa
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) March 2, 2020
6) Strong storms continue to threaten the South, including Alabama, where the National Weather Service (NWS) has already issued multiple severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch for Wednesday. The greatest threat for these storms is across the southern region of Mississippi and into the night for south and south-central Alabama. The region is already at risk for flooding, and the forecast includes up to 4 inches of rain with hail and damaging winds possible in areas under tornado watches.
8:45am-- Line segment coming out of Alabama into western Georgia will be monitored closely as it moves through the red circled area.
— Wes Peery-11Alive (@WesWeather) March 3, 2020
7) Natural disasters usually occur with very little warning and often catch residents unprepared. In the wake of recent severe weather including flash floods and tornadoes, experts are urging residents to be more prepared by having an emergency kit and plan. Ready.gov is an online resource that is available to help families plan for disasters. Important items to include in a family emergency kit are a first aid kit and copies of insurance policies. Other helpful information includes wearing shoes when sheltering from a tornado, paying attention to watches and warnings, and downloading the right apps for alerts and other safety information.
It's #SevereWeatherAwarenessWeek - a good time for families & businesses to review disaster preparedness plans. How well & how quickly individuals & businesses recover from severe events can depend on how financially prepared they were before calamity hit. https://t.co/buo5yORIJU pic.twitter.com/kJMSop3Akr
— Kansas City Fed (@KansasCityFed) March 3, 2020
8) Positive train control (PTC) interoperability between Class I railroads in the United States has nearly reached its halfway point with 48 percent of railroads being interoperable. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the interoperability means that host and tenant railroads can communicate on PTC-equipped main lines, helping to reduce train accidents largely caused by human error. Commuter and other host railroads are still lagging in interoperability, with Amtrak only at 18.8 percent. Commuter railroads, including the Alaska Railroad and the New Jersey Transit are at only 35.5 percent interoperability for PTC.
Positive train control has been fully implemented on the Class I rail network, with 48% of the network able to communicate with tenant railroads.https://t.co/vju7Mb5Jx7
— FreightWaves (@FreightWaves) February 28, 2020