Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Rail Line Damaged by 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Set to Reopen
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Rail Line Damaged by 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Set to Reopen

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Rail Line Damaged by 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Set to Reopen


Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 18, 2019: Australia's heat wave sets record temperatures across the country; severe weather across the Deep South on Monday spawned at least 27 tornadoes and killed four; a total fire ban is in place for much of Australia as record high heat persists; a Houston area school is closed until January 6 due to a whooping cough outbreak (pertussis); a getaway van plows into a Ross store in Washington state and injures 11; visitors to the Denver International Airport and Children's Hospital Colorado may have been exposed to the measles; and a key piece of public transportation infrastructure damaged in the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan nine years ago is set to reopen at the end of March in 2020.

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1) Australians just experienced their hottest day ever on record Wednesday, with temperatures across the country averaging a whopping 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Several locations experienced temperatures over 115 degrees Fahrenheit including Birdsville, Queensland, and Mandora, Western Australia. Forecasters also noted that the extensive hot air mass engulfing the nation may push temperatures anywhere from 8 to 16 degrees higher than normal in areas around the country on Thursday.

2) A bout of severe weather swept across the Deep South and into Alabama on Monday. Heavy rain and thunderstorms spawned multiple tornadoes that killed four victims, injured at least a dozen people, and caused widespread, significant damage. A reported 27 tornadoes occurred across the region, causing damage in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Alabama was hit by at least 10 tornadoes, including one in north Alabama that killed two and was rated by the National Weather Service as an EF-2 with top winds of 134 mph.

3) Strong winds amid scorching temperatures are fanning brush fires in Australia, including more than 100 fires that are burning in the state of New South Wales (NSW). The ongoing heatwave and heavy smoke from the raging fires has increased the number of hospital admissions. As conditions become extremely dangerous across the country, a total fire ban is in place for Thursday in all of NSW and South Australia, large parts of Queensland, and northern Victoria.

4) An outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, closed a Houston school early for its Christmas break. St. Theresa Catholic School near Memorial Park notified parents that the school would be closed from December 12 to January 6, due to several confirmed cases of the disease. The school received a report of its first confirmed case on December 4 and immediately notified the Texas Department of State Health Services. According to a statement from the school, all of its children have been vaccinated against the disease.

5) Three people are in critical condition and another eight are injured after an alleged getaway vehicle plowed into a Ross store in Burien, Washington, on Monday evening. The van was being driven by a 51-year-old male, allegedly the getaway driver for the passenger who had been shoplifting in the store. When the female passenger got into the van, the driver took off and struck an empty car in front of the store. The van was propelled through the window and into the store, where it struck 11 people. The van critically injured three people, one of whom was a toddler.

6) Three children have been hospitalized for the measles in Colorado, but not before exposing others to the highly contagious disease. The children, who are allegedly unvaccinated and from another state, had traveled out of the United States to a country that has an ongoing measles outbreak. Several people were placed in quarantine after exposure. Health officials say anyone at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, December 11, and Children's Hospital Colorado on Thursday, December 12 may have been exposed to the measles.

7) A rail line that connects Tokyo to the Miyagi Prefecture -- damaged during the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan -- is on target to reopen in March of 2020. It has taken nine years, but repair work on tracks and station buildings in the Fukushima Prefecture are largely completed, and areas along the track have been successfully decontaminated of radioactive material. A trial run on a section of the Joban Line through the Fukushima Prefecture was also successfully conducted on Wednesday by the East Japan Railway Company.

8) The cause of a fire Monday night at an industrial terminal, owned and operated by Kinder Morgan in Southwest Philadelphia, is under investigation. The fire, burning at about 1,000 degrees, was in an area between two ethanol storage tanks at the Point Breeze Terminal. Firefighters made a risky decision that likely prevented a disaster; they opted to first close valves located just a foot from the raging fire -- which would stop the product flow feeding the fire -- and then worked to fully put out the fire.


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.