Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: NYC Suffers Blackout; Mandatory Evacuations Ordered for Hurricane Barry
EDM Monday Briefing: NYC Suffers Blackout; Mandatory Evacuations Ordered for Hurricane Barry

EDM Monday Briefing: NYC Suffers Blackout; Mandatory Evacuations Ordered for Hurricane Barry


Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 15, 2019: New York City suffered a massive blackout Saturday evening that disrupted public transportation and left thousands in the dark; four new wildfires broke out in the Great Basin in Idaho and Nevada; Dominica is better prepared for stronger hurricanes, largely thanks to assistance by USAID teams; cleanup begins as Chevron is cited for a nearly 800,000-gallon oil and water spill in Kern County, California; Hurricane Barry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane and heavy rains prompted evacuations as multiple levees overtopped; a man is dead after attacking an ICE detention center in Washington state; a JetBlue flight diverted to JFK after passengers and crew noticed an unusual odor inside the plane; and two residents in a long-term care facility in Virginia have died following a respiratory illness outbreak.

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1) A massive blackout hit New York City Saturday evening, plunging Times Square, Madison Garden and at least 73,000 customers into darkness. The outage disrupted subway service, caused some trains to get stranded, darkened train stations and trapped people in elevators. The blackout, which began at about 6:47 p.m. and lasted until nearly midnight, was allegedly caused by a Con Edison transformer fire at the West 49th Street substation.

2) Four new wildfires broke out in the Great Basin on Saturday, two in Nevada and two in Idaho. Two people who allegedly started the Jasper Fire by target shooting into cheat grass were arrested, and the wildfire -- situated just north of Reno -- burned nearly 800 acres by evening. The Ridgeline Fire, burning near Albion, Idaho, charred about 1,000 acres by evening, and was being fought by four single engine air tankers and a retardant-dropping DC-10.

3) Hit with a Category 5 storm in 2017 -- Hurricane Maria -- Dominica was assisted by USAID teams to help harden the island against future storms. Immediately following the hurricane, Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DART) helped provide water, sanitation and emergency supplies to island residents. As long-term recovery began, emergency shelters were repaired and enhanced. After completing repairs and strengthening the shelters to withstand stronger winds, shelter enhancements included emergency communications capabilities, solar panels, generators, and other pre-staged emergency supplies.

4) State officials will oversee the clean up of a nearly 800,000-gallon oil and water spill that flowed into a canyon in Kern County, California. According to reports, the spill, which occurred off and on when Chevron used steam to extract oil from the Cymric Oil Field, located about 35 miles west of Bakersfield -- flowed into a dry creek bed. Chevron increased production of oil from the wells to help relieve pressure, but the state has also ordered the company to stop steam injections at the site.

5) Barry made landfall along the central Louisiana coast on Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm, which had winds of about 75 mph, came ashore around 1:00 p.m., roughly 170 miles west of New Orleans in Intracoastal City, Louisiana. As the storm moved inland, thousands of people were left without power and multiple levees overtopped, which prompted water rescues and mandatory evacuations and left much of Louisiana and Mississippi waterlogged.

6) An armed man who attacked an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Washington state was allegedly shot and killed by police. Willem Van Spronsen, 69, had a previous arrest record and was armed with a rifle and incendiary devices, which he threw at employees. Vehicles were also set on fire. Van Spronsen had written letters and a manifesto prior to the 4:00 a.m. attack and was attempting to ignite a propane tank when he was confronted by officers, who then opened fire on him.

7) A JetBlue flight diverted to New York City shortly after departure when passengers and crew members became aware of an unusual odor on the plane. Flight #1203 departed from Newark Liberty International Airport shortly after 6:00 a.m., bound for Santo Domingo, Dominica Republic, when the unusual odor forced the plane to divert to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) out of an abundance of caution. The odor allegedly sickened three passengers and two crew members, who were treated by EMS upon the aircraft's safe arrival at JFK.

8) Two residents at a long-term care facility in Springfield, Virginia, have died following an outbreak of a respiratory illness. A total of 54 people were sickened over the span of about 11 days, including 18 that had to be hospitalized. The facility, Greenspring, is working with Fairfax County Health Department officials to ensure proper protocols are being followed, including the isolation of sick residents and increasing efforts to reduce the risk of infection.


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.