Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Hurricane Irma, Montana Wildfire Assistance

EDM Monday Briefing: Hurricane Irma, Montana Wildfire Assistance

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Emergency and disaster briefing for September 11, 2017: A live power pole and electrical lines trap first responders in their vehicle in Florida, over 3 million in South Florida are without power in the wake of Hurricane Irma, storm surge flooding predicted for the west coast of Florida, the Red Cross is to test drones for disaster aid assistance, Montana receives disaster assistance from FEMA for 3 more major wildfires, over 500 have died from the widespread cholera epidemic in Congo, Houston has a game plan to tame its growing mosquito population, and Equifax is drawing criticism over its website designed to assist consumers affected by its massive security breach.

  1. Overnight Sunday to Monday, two first responders in Polk County, Florida, were trapped in their vehicle when a live power pole and electrical lines fell across their patrol car as a result of Hurricane Irma. Polk County Sheriff Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Schaill had just transported an elderly patient to an area hospital when the pole fell onto their car. Lynn and Schaill waited for two hours while Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the power lines and it was deemed safe for them to exit the vehicle.
  2. Hurricane Irma made its first U.S. landfall Sunday around 9:00 a.m. on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a major Category 4 storm before making a second landfall on Marco Island, on the state's southwestern coast, later that afternoon as a Category 3 storm. By midday on Sunday, more than 3 million homes and businesses across the area were without power, according to Florida Power and Light, the main supplier of electricity to the areas. The storm has produced several tornadoes, toppled cranes, uprooted trees and caused other widespread damage in Miami, Hollywood, and Ft. Lauderdale. 
  3. Hurricane Irma is churning up the west coast of Florida and officials warn that storm surge along the coast will be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet and is likely to cause massive flooding. As of 5:00 a.m. Monday, Irma had been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, but hurricane force winds extend out nearly 60 miles while tropical storm force winds are now reaching outward almost 415 miles. The storm is expected to drop anywhere from 10 to 15 inches of rain along the west coast of Florida, with Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and the western Carolinas seeing rain amounts of 3 to 12 inches which could lead to localized flash flooding.
  4. The Red Cross will be using drones to assess damage in locations across Houston impacted by Hurricane Harvey that will help them funnel the appropriate aid to specific areas. The use of the drones to assess damages will be a test to determine how useful the technology can be for future disasters. The pilot program will be the first ever non-profit disaster relief drone program in the country and could aid in speeding assistance to victims of future disasters.
  5. In what many are calling an historic wildfire season, Montana has been especially hard hit and their latest fight includes efforts to battle three major wildfires. In order to assist the state in its firefighting efforts, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved disaster assistance for the state to help offset at least 75 percent of the costs incurred to fight these fires. Since July, Montana has spent more than $50 million on fire suppression efforts.
  6. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that to date, over 525 people have died in a cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to officials, the disease appears to be more widespread this year with 20 of Congo's 26 provinces being affected by the epidemic. The number of individuals impacted by the disease in urban locations is also likely to rise due to the displacement of more than 1.4 million people from the central Kasai region as a result of violence. 
  7. Houston has formed a plan to combat the massive mosquito population that has been growing from all the standing water resulting from Hurricane Harvey, and is asking residents to do their part. Officials are asking residents to empty standing water pools from flower pots, tires, children's pools, sandboxes, gutters, outdoor pet water bowls and buckets to help prevent mosquitoes from breeding. In addition, aerial spraying will be conducted by the Department of Defense in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in and around the Houston area. City officials are seeking to control and/or eliminate mosquito-borne diseases, included the West Nile Virus which was already present in the area before Hurricane Harvey.
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  9. In a massive cyber security breach at Equifax, a credit monitoring company, the private information of at least 143 million people was compromised, but concerns regarding the credit reporting company do not stop there. The website that Equifax established to help consumers following the breach is also drawing concern over its set up--which appears to look similar to sites set up by attackers tricking people into giving out their information, The website is also drawing criticism because it is forcing anyone who signs up to waive their right to arbitration over the security breach.

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.