Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Hurricane Michael Causes Widespread Damage
EDM Friday Briefing: Hurricane Michael Causes Widespread Damage

EDM Friday Briefing: Hurricane Michael Causes Widespread Damage

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 12, 2018: The death toll rises to 11 from Hurricane Michael amid widespread damage and destruction, heavy rainfalls from Michael caused flash flooding and mudslides across portions of North Carolina still recovering from Hurricane Florence, two hospitals in Panama City are being evacuated due to damages and a loss of infrastructure in the area from Hurricane Michael, Tropical Storm Sergio made landfall on Mexico's Baja Peninsula and is on track to impact the Southern Plains and Ozarks this weekend, a new study reveals high levels of microplastics in a major U.S. river, a United Airlines flight made an emergency landing at Fort Myers for a mechanical issue that occurred just after takeoff, and officials in Indonesia extended rescue efforts and the disaster relief period.

  1. The damage and destruction from Hurricane Michael, a historic Category 4 storm, is widespread, and the death toll from the storm has now risen to at least 11 people. Many homes and buildings have been completely destroyed along its path in Florida's Panhandle, while a storm surge of nearly 14 feet in Mexico Beach that wiped out entire neighborhoods. Power outages also extend across six states as of Friday morning, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, and Virginia, with at least 1.6 million homes and businesses affected.  
  2. Many areas in North Carolina were still recovering from Hurricane Florence when Michael went through, dropping at least 6 inches of rain on parts of the state where the ground was still saturated from Florence. The heavy rainfall prompted widespread flash flooding, created mudslides, and forced road closures, including in McDowell County, where a state of emergency was issued and swift water rescue teams were deployed. One mudslide gouged out a portion of a road in Buncombe County, forcing its closure, and in Henderson County, rising waters led to 18 people having to be rescued.  
  3. Two hospitals in the Gulf Coast Region are evacuating patients due to damages sustained during Hurricane Michael and the loss of infrastructure, including power, water, and sewage. Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital in Panama City sustained damage to its roof, walls, and windows, but its emergency room remains open to receive patients even though the hospital is evacuating its more than 200 patients. Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center is also evacuating roughly 130 patients due to a loss of infrastructure, but was keeping its emergency room open and was awaiting the arrival of a U.S. Disaster Medical Assistance Team (US DMAT) to help them treat patients. 
  4. Tropical Storm Sergio made landfall on Mexico's Baja Peninsula early Friday, in a sparsely populated area, and the biggest threat from Sergio will be the heavy rainfall in northwestern Mexico, and over the weekend in the U.S. Southern Plains and the Ozarks. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated that the storm will move across the Gulf of California and reach mainland Mexico Friday night, before continuing its northeast trek toward El Paso, Texas. Sergio has kicked up rough surf and dangerous rip currents as far north as San Luis Obispo, California, and other major threats from the storm include flash floods and mudslides due to heavy rainfalls associated with the storm.  
  5. A new study found that microplastics are not just an ocean problem--samples recently taken revealed alarmingly high levels were also found to exist in a major river in the United States--the Tennessee River. Touted by scientists as ecologically rich and biodiverse, the Tennessee River is often referred to as an underwater rainforest which houses a vast number of fish, crawfish, and mussels species endemic only to this river. Scientists state that the diversity and ecology of the river is now at risk since recent samples revealed high levels of microplastics--16,000 to 18,000 particles per cubic meter in some parts of the river-compared to 200 particles per cubic meter found in the Rhine River in Germany.  
  6. A United Airlines flight departing from Fort Myers, Florida, Wednesday afternoon, had to return to the airport and make an emergency landing after a mechanical issue with the left engine occurred. Shortly after takeoff, passengers heard a loud noise from the left side of the aircraft, and soon after the captain came on the intercom and announced they would be turning around and making an emergency landing at Fort Myers. The flight, which took off at 12:12 p.m and was bound for Newark, landed safely without incident as emergency and rescue vehicles stood by.  
  7. A Virginia firefighter is dead and several other firefighters are injured after a semi-truck plowed into a fire truck assisting with a crash on a Virginia interstate Thursday night. The firefighters were assisting with a two vehicle crash on Interstate 295 in Hanover, Virginia, when the semi-trailer, which was traveling southbound, rammed into the fire truck. Lt. Brad Cole was killed, and three others were injured, including one critically, after poor driving conditions--brought on by Hurricane Michael--are believed to have led to both crashes.
  8. Officials in Indonesia have extended the search until Friday for victims of the September 28 earthquake and tsunami as a result of resident's demands. The official number of those missing is 680, but government officials stated liquefaction swallowed hundreds of homes into the earth, so that number could easily be in the thousands.  The official death toll from the twin disasters has reach 2,073, and officials also extended the disaster relief period from October 13 to October 26.  

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.