Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Deadly Ebola Outbreak Continues

EDM Monday Briefing: Deadly Ebola Outbreak Continues


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 11, 2019: The Ebola outbreak in the DRC has claimed the lives of nearly 100 children; fire officials allowed many residents in Wakefield, New Zealand to return home following a wildfire that prompted widespread evacuations in the area; lawmakers in Washington call for better drone regulations to mitigate a catastrophic incident with commercial aircraft; officials raise the death toll in the building collapse in Istanbul, Turkey; first responders help lift a a pickup truck that had victims trapped underneath it after it had plowed into a crowd on a sidewalk in California; Maui, Hawaii experiences lowest-elevation snowfall in the state's history when a strong storm moved across the islands; and a new storm moving in from the West will bring heavy snowfall, freezing rain, and rain as it moves into the Midwest and to the Northeast.

  1. As the second-largest and second-deadliest Ebola outbreak continues in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a total of nearly 100 children have died from the disease, of whom, 65 were younger than five years old. The current outbreak has a fatality rate of nearly 63 percent, and the number of cases spiked in January, doubling from about 20 to more than 40 per week. The outbreak is occurring in an active war zone, in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, where health and frontline workers face sporadic attacks from armed groups
  2. Thanks to improved weather conditions in New Zealand, firefighters were able to gain ground on a wildfire burning near Wakefield that prompted the evacuations of nearly 3,000 people last Friday. Officials allowed nearly all of the residents who evacuated on Friday, to return home Monday, but they were cautioned to remain on alert for changing fire conditions that could prompt new evacuation orders. The wildfire has scorched 5,700 acres and destroyed one home, and 190 firefighters, along with 10 helicopters and two airplanes, were deployed to combat the fire.  
  3. Recent drone sightings that have threatened commercial airplanes at airports in London and New Jersey, have lawmakers calling for tighter regulations to help ensure commercial aircraft safety ahead of a catastrophic incident--and to prevent the shutdown of the drone industry. According to regulators, drones now exist that can fly at 10,000 feet or more and accelerate in less than a second from 0-60 mph--and according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pose high hazards to commercial aircraft which must be mitigated before an incident occurs. Due to the potentially phenomenal benefits that could result from commercial drones, some lawmakers would also like to see the federal government facilitate the growth of the commercial drone industry.  
  4. The death toll in the building collapse last Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey, has risen to 21, while 14 others were injured and nearby buildings were evacuated on Thursday as a precaution. A reported 35 people were in the building at the time of the collapse, but according to government officials, the search and rescue effort will continue. The city's mayor noted that the top three floors of the building were built illegally and a textile shop was also operating without a license at the entrance of the building.  
  5. Emergency responders and nearby witnesses helped lift a truck off survivors after it plowed into a crowded sidewalk in Fullerton, California early Sunday morning. The driver, Christopher Solis, was believed to have been under the influence of drugs when the truck he was driving jumped the curb and struck people on the busy sidewalk before crashing into a tree. Injuries to a total of nine individuals--raging in age from 18 to 49--were reportedly moderate to critical, with some people becoming trapped underneath the vehicle, but all were expected to survive.  
  6. Hawaii was hit by a strong storm that has knocked out power, downed trees, flooded coastal roads, and brought snow to Maui. The snowfall occurred in a mountainous state park at around 6,200 feet, a coating which could be the lowest-elevation snowfall recorded in the history of the state. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), wind gusts reached nearly 70 mph in some areas, and residents were also warned about the potential for coastal flooding, while power outages and roof damage were widespread on several islands.  
  7. Prescribed fires are being planned for the pristine Cumberland Island, a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, beginning as early as Tuesday. The National Park Service (NPS) noted that fires will help reduce brush that can lead to wildfires, and will help promote the growth of grass while helping to push back encroachment of unwanted plants. Park service officials noted that the prescribed burns could temporarily close campgrounds and result in the re-routing or delaying of island tours.  
  8. A new storm headed to the Midwest is likely to bring heavy snow from Kansas to Michigan, while areas to the south are likely to see heavy rainfall, and all of it is set to begin sometime Monday. Weather officials note that freezing rain is likely to occur in areas from Chicago to Detroit beginning overnight Monday to Tuesday, as the storm system shifts to the northeast and the heavy snow moves into Philadelphia and New York City. Locally heavy rains, up to four inches, could be seen in areas south of the Ohio River Valley, including in portions of Kentucky and Tennessee through Wednesday.  

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.