Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: East Coast Gets Hit With the Season's First Winter Storm

EDM Friday Briefing: East Coast Gets Hit With the Season's First Winter Storm


Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 16, 2018: The first winter storm of the season wreaks havoc from the South and Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard, the death toll from the Camp Fire continues to rise after seven more bodies were found on Thursday, a tour bus crash in Mississippi kills 2 and injures 44, firefighters are gaining ground against the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, icy roads were blamed for 4 deaths and gridlock on an Arkansas interstate, an outbreak of the norovirus has been reported in at least one wildfire evacuation shelter in Northern California, the EPA rated San Francisco's air quality as hazardous Thursday, and a district attorney in a rural county in Alabama was shot in the face by a former state trooper.

  1. A strong weather system that moved into the East Coast wreaked havoc as it dumped snow, freezing rain, and sleet across the region. The winter system has contributed to at least seven deaths in parts of the nation as it swept through the Midwest and caused flight delays, cancellations, and interrupted public transit, leading to overcrowding at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. A multi-vehicle crash on the George Washington Bridge also caused significant traffic delays, and schools closed early as weather conditions continued to deteriorate across the region.
  2. The death toll has now risen to 63 from the deadly wildfire known as the Camp Fire that began November 8 in Northern California. Authorities stated yesterday that more than 600 people remain unaccounted for in what is now the worst fire in the state's history. CalFire noted that the Camp Fire has consumed 141,000 acres, destroyed at least 9,700 residences, and was only 40 percent contained as of Thursday evening.  
  3. Two people were killed and 44 were injured when a tour bus overturned on an icy interstate in Mississippi, just across the state line from Memphis, Tennessee. According to reports, the bus driver lost control of the tour bus, which was bound for Tunica County, Mississippi--a popular casino location--after crossing an icy overpass, and it flipped onto its side and slid into the median. Two people were critically injured, and six remained hospitalized following the accident, with one person listed in serious condition.  
  4. In Southern California, a recent update by CalFire shows that the Woolsey Fire, which caused the deaths of three people and injured three firefighters, is now 69 percent contained. So far, the wind-driven blaze has destroyed 548 structures, including homes in Malibu, Calabasas, and Hidden Hills, and scorched 98,362 acres. Evacuation orders remain in place in both Ventura and Los Angeles counties, and the current status of the Woolsey Fire, along with evacuations, shelters, and other information, can be accessed via the posted CalFire incident update.  
  5. Four people died in accidents on icy roads in Central Arkansas on Wednesday night after a strong storm system dumped ice and freezing rain across the area. The Arkansas Department of Transportation stated that due to multiple accidents, some motorists were stranded on Interstate 40 for at least 10 hours beginning Wednesday night. A Tweet posted by the Arkansas DOT noted around 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning, that while the original accident that had blocked I-40 was cleared, recurring accidents, ice formations, and drivers who had fallen asleep in their vehicles were all contributing to a slow recovery.  
  6. An outbreak of the norovirus has been reported at the Neighborhood Church of Chico in Butte County, which is housing evacuees from the Camp Fire in Northern California. The Butte County Health Department stated that at least 15 to 20 people have tested positive for the virus, which is highly contagious and can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Health officials also noted concern that evacuees at another shelter, the Oroville Church of the Nazarene, were also exhibiting signs of the virus, but lab tests had not yet confirmed the virus' presence.    
  7. The spread of smoke from California's recent wildfires is sparking concerns among health officials, who cautioned that those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses could see their conditions worsen. Smoke from the Camp Fire spread some 200 miles to San Francisco, darkening the skies and making the city's skyline barely visible from across the bay. Open air cable cars were pulled from the streets Thursday, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the air quality across the city as hazardous
  8. An Alabama district attorney in a rural county was shot in the face by a former state trooper outside his office on Thursday. The suspect, Stephen Smith Jr., opened fire and shot DA, Greg Griggers, in the face, before he was shot by another law enforcement officer and was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the State Bureau of Investigation, Smith Jr. had been a state trooper from 1982 until he was terminated in 1996. 

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.