Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Heavy Rain Helps Firefighters Contain Bushfires in Australia
EDM Friday Briefing: Heavy Rain Helps Firefighters Contain Bushfires in Australia

EDM Friday Briefing: Heavy Rain Helps Firefighters Contain Bushfires in Australia


Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 17, 2020: President Trump approves a federal disaster declaration for Puerto Rico after devastating earthquakes; heavy rainfall helps douse wildfires in Australia as firefighters achieve containment; Philippine residents were permitted to return home to save animals and belongings during a lull in volcanic activity; a 12-year-old girl buried by an avalanche in Kashmir has been found alive; FEMA has updated and released its Community Lifelines Implementation Toolkit addressing critical community infrastructure services; improved disaster response planning that addresses pediatric needs and injuries has been developed through a cooperative effort between the United States and Israel; fire agencies in North America released a joint message addressing first responder safety at roadway incidents; and one person is dead in an incident on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.

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1) President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for earthquake-stricken Puerto Rico, increasing aid to the island territory. On January 7, a strong earthquake and multiple, subsequent aftershocks damaged and collapsed homes in southern Puerto Rico. More than 8,000 people fled to shelters, fearful of returning home due to the ongoing aftershocks.

2) Heavy rain and thunderstorms doused portions of Australia, providing relief to areas plagued for months by wildfires. The rain helped firefighters boost containment, but officials cautioned that several months of above-average rainfall is needed to help the nation recover from long-term rainfall deficiencies that led to the current drought. To date, the wildfires have killed 29 people, destroyed 2,600 homes and scorched about 25.5 million acres -- an area roughly one-third the size of Germany.

3) Government officials in the Philippines allowed residents to return home briefly on Friday to retrieve animals, livestock and belongings during a lull in activity from the Taal Volcano. On Wednesday, the volcano spewed lava, ash, and steam a half mile into the sky and caused the airport to close overnight, which resulted in more than 500 delayed or cancelled flights affecting 80,000 passengers. Seismic activity in the Taal region also produced 49 volcanic earthquakes in just an eight-hour period, which, when coupled with the fissuring beneath the Earth's surface, usually triggers another eruption.

4) Winter weather in Pakistan has claimed the lives of more than 76 people, but search teams found a 12-year-old girl alive on Wednesday in the disputed Kashmir region, after she was buried for 18 hours under an avalanche. The heavy snow and bitter cold temperatures have impacted Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India since Sunday, triggering avalanches that buried small villages in the region. The heavy snowfall also caused roof collapses in the eastern Punjab and southwestern Baluchistan provinces, killing at least another 45 people.

5) Communications, energy and safety infrastructure are critical to ensure the well-being of community residents. When these critical infrastructure services are interrupted during a disaster, re-establishing and stabilizing these lifelines quickly is a necessary component in order to support the needs of the community during response and recovery. To address these needs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated and released its Community Lifelines Implementation Toolkit, along with the Incident Stabilization Guide, which can be viewed and downloaded from its website.

6) Disaster experts in the United States and Israel are cooperating to quickly and effectively address the needs of children during disasters. According to experts, nearly 30 percent of the world's population is under 18, with as many as 40 to 50 percent of disaster victims being children. The needs and injuries of children in a disaster require distinct, non-adult treatment, including attention to mental health due to incident-related trauma. Working together, the two nations have improved overall disaster planning that included a focus on children and meeting their unique needs.

7) As distracted driving increases, a joint message from North American fire agencies has been published that seeks to help ensure the safety of first responders at highway and roadway incidents. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 10 percent of firefighter fatalities in 2019 were a result of being struck by vehicles as they responded to a roadway or highway incident. The joint message seeks to bring awareness to first responder safety and provides links to resources, including best practices and tips for responding and operating at roadway incidents.

8) Police responded to an incident on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, early Friday morning. Authorities stated that one person was found dead at a construction site near Mack Hall in the vicinity of 11th and Neil avenues. According to police, the incident is believed to have occurred overnight, and there is no threat to student safety.


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.