EDM Friday Briefing: Dual Terror Attacks in Spain, Tropical Storm Harvey
Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 18, 2017: Dual vehicle terrorist attacks that killed at least 14 and a house explosion are likely linked in Spain, Tropical Storm Harvey hammers the Windward Islands as it moves toward the Caribbean, a wildfire flare-up prompts hundreds of mandatory evacuations in Montana, British Columbia has its worst wildfire season in years, the Operation Blue Trident multi-agency disaster training exercise is underway in New York, officials expand the search area for missing U.S. Army soldiers off the coast of Hawaii, the death toll in Sierra Leone is likely to grow as more bodies are pulled from mudslide rubble, and high bacteria levels and poor water quality forces the closure of several state swim parks in Connecticut.
- In dual terror attacks just hours apart in Spain, the first in Barcelona and the second in Cambrils, a coastal town about 80 miles away, at least 14 people are dead and more than 100 are injured, some critically after being purposely run over by vehicles. Police are still hunting for the driver of the van involved in the Barcelona attack, and police believe the two attacks to be linked. The five suspects in Cambril were shot and killed by police as they exited the vehicle used to run people over, and four other suspects have been arrested in connection with the dual attacks. Police also suspect that a house explosion that killed one and injured several others in Alcanar may also be related to the dual terror attacks.
- Tropical storm warnings and watches have been issued for the Windward Islands, including St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Martinique as Tropical Storm Harvey drenches the small islands on its move toward the Caribbean Ocean and Central America or Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The torrential rains are likely to lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in the mountainous terrain across the islands, and officials are urging residents to exercise caution. According to weather officials, Tropical Storm Harvey poses no threat to the United States at this time.
- A flare-up of the month old Lolo Peak Fire Wednesday into Thursday in drought-stricken Montana forced hundreds of evacuations in Lolo and surrounding communities, including homes in Missoula and Ravalli counties. The Lolo Peak Fire, one of 13 active fires burning across the state, has consumed over 23 square miles of timber and caused the death of one firefighter. According to a recent report, two-thirds of the state is in severe or exceptional drought conditions, providing plenty of dry tinder to fuel fires which has led to this being one of the worst wildfire seasons in years for the state.
- In British Columbia, this year's wildfire season has already set records for the most acres burned, and the season is not yet over. The wildfires this season have consumed more than 2.21 million acres so far, and recent fires spurred by gusty winds and high temperatures have prompted air quality alerts for much of the interior of British Columbia. The Wildfire Service says that with no rain in the forecast, the threat of wildfires, along with the expansion of fires currently burning, still remains very high.
- The multi-agency training exercise, Operation Blue Trident, got underway on Wednesday in New York's East End and is expected to continue throughout the weekend. The training exercise was developed using guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and devised to help state and local law enforcement agencies prepare for disasters, including those that are natural and human-caused. The training is the first of its kind for the East End and the agencies involved will focus on radiological training, homeland security, and other maritime operations, along with events such as hurricanes, major oil spills, vessel collisions, and airplane crashes.
- The ongoing search has been expanded for five soldiers, two pilots and three crew members, onboard a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter that went missing during nighttime training on Tuesday off Hawaii. The helicopter lost communication with another Black Hawk also involved in the nighttime training, around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The original search area involved waters up to 5 miles off the coast of Hawaii, but due to swift and dynamic currents, it has now been expanded to an area up to 50 miles offshore.
- More than 400 bodies have been recovered from the mudslide in the Sierra Leone town of Regent, but at least 600 more people are still missing. As workers continue to sift through the debris, the hope of finding survivors amid the heavy mud and rubble diminishes with each passing day. NGOs have made a plea for basic human needs including shelter, clean water, and food as at least 2,000 people were left homeless in the aftermath of the disaster.
- Several state park swim areas are closed this weekend in Connecticut following poor water quality test results as announced by the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Silver Sands in Milford, along with Indian Wells in Shelton swim areas are closed due to high bacteria levels, while Kettletown is closed until blue green algae blooms subside. In Kent, Lake Waramaug's swim area is also closed due to high bacteria levels, and according to reports, all areas, with the exception of Kettletown, will be retested on Monday, August 21.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) August 17, 2017
— Montana Public Radio (@mtpublicradio) August 17, 2017
U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday it was now searching up to 50 miles off Hawaii for five soldiers missing after crash https://t.co/gA1zCjNaME
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) August 18, 2017
Silver Sands State Park in Milford closed for swimming https://t.co/uHlmQ4sOxk
— Environment News (@nhrenvironment) August 18, 2017