Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Emergency Officials Fear Dam Failure

EDM Friday Briefing: Emergency Officials Fear Dam Failure


Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 3, 2018: Residents in Lynchburg, Virginia were evacuated over fears a dam may fail after overtopping, Hurricane Hector is forecast to become a major hurricane but its impact to Hawaii is still uncertain, firefighters gained ground on the largest wildfire burning in the nation, flash flood watches and warnings are in effect up and down the East Coast as strong storms bring heavy rainfall, repeated earthquakes from Mount Kilauea are impacting vital roadways on Hawaii's Big Island, Portugal and Spain are likely to be the hardest hit in a heat wave impacting Europe, the TSA downplayed reports it is considering removing screening from small and mid-sized airports, and a possible food-borne illness outbreak in Ohio is larger than originally thought and may be linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Powell.

  1. Residents in Lynchburg, Virginia were evacuated after water overtopped the College Lake Dam late Thursday, sending water pouring over a local roadway. Over 100 residents in the Blackwater Creek Trail area have been evacuated by emergency officials over fears the dam may fail, which would inundate the local area with at least 17 feet of water in just 7 minutes. The dam exceeded its capacity after more than 6 inches of rain fell across the local area in less than 24 hours due to strong storms.  
  2. Hurricane Hector, a Category 2 storm, is heading for the Central Pacific, and could become a major hurricane by as early as Sunday. Some fluctuations in intensity of the storm have occurred and are expected to continue until Friday night, but the storm is then forecast to begin gaining strength. The storm is headed west at 12 mph, with sustained winds of 105 mph, and it is still uncertain if this small but powerful storm will impact Hawaii.  
  3. Firefighters in California have finally gained ground on the deadly and destructive Carr Fire after 10 days of nearly unhindered burning. Diminished winds helped firefighters build containment lines around 37 percent of the fire's perimeter, with partial containment lines extending even farther. The fire is now the sixth most destructive in the state, with 1,546 structures destroyed, including 1,060 homes, and the blaze has now consumed 126,913 acres, making it the largest wildfire burning in the nation.  
  4. Flash flood watches remain in effect for much of the East Coast today as widespread thunderstorms are expected throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Lynchburg, Virginia is currently under a flash flood warning after receiving nearly 6 inches of rain Thursday, resulting in water rescues. Some areas along the coast could see anywhere from 2 to 3 inches of rain by Sunday, with a few locations receiving up to 6 inches of rain.  
  5. Mount Kilauea is still erupting on the Big Island of Hawaii, and as the summit caldera continues to collapse, frequent earthquakes are being felt across the island. The earthquakes are impacting roadways, including Highway 11, a vital road that connects outlying villages to Hilo--and to critical medical services. The earthquakes are creating voids and surficial settlements, so emergency officials are now developing contingency plans for Highway 11, including evacuation plans, repairs, and alternate routes.  
  6. Residents, tourists, and visitors to Europe, but especially those in Spain and Portugal, are being warned that a blast of dusty, hot air from Africa will bring blistering hot temperatures throughout the weekend. The heat wave is prompting health warnings about Sahara Desert dust and temperatures that are likely to reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Portuguese authorities have already issued a nationwide health alert for dust and extreme temperatures, as some southern cities and towns, including the southeastern Portuguese town of Beja, are forecast to reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  7. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is downplaying reports that it is allegedly considering removing screening from smaller airports across the nation in an effort to reduce its operating costs. A working group of 20 met in late June to discuss the security risks of removing screening from smaller airports, such as those that service 60-seater passenger planes or less, and having passengers and their luggage screened once they arrive at larger airports. Only small and mid-sized airports would be targeted, and the reduction in screening would allegedly save the TSA $115 million per year.  
  8. Public health officials in Ohio have now received 518 reports from individuals of a food-borne illness that may possibly be linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Powell, in Delaware County. Food and fecal samples have been collected and will be tested for a variety of bacteria, including norovirus, E. coli, and salmonella, among others, by the Ohio Department of Health laboratory. Public health officials have already interviewed at least 200 of the individuals that have reported symptoms that include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and other symptoms, after allegedly eating at the restaurant.  

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.