Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Latest Amtrak Crash Kills Two Employees

EDM Monday Briefing: Latest Amtrak Crash Kills Two Employees


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 5, 2018: A train crash in South Carolina kills two Amtrak employees, Taiwan is hit by 6.1 earthquake on Sunday, at least three counties in California gained the severe drought designation as a warm and dry winter grips the state, schools are closed in Branchburg, New Jersey after a flu outbreak, disaster-preparedness efforts in Makati, Philippines includes the distribution of emergency Go Bags to area schools, new data released by UNICEF indicates that conflicts and disasters affect literacy rates among displaced children, scientists says the increasing earthquakes in Oklahoma are strongly linked to hydraulic fracturing, and freezing rain followed by heavy snowfall downed thousands of trees in Russia, killing one and injuring others.

  1. In its third crash since December 18, an Amtrak passenger train hit a CSX freight train in Pine Ridge, South Carolina on Sunday. Amtrak Train 91 was traveling from New York to Miami, carrying approximately 139 people, when it collided with a CSX freight train, derailing some of its cars, killing two Amtrak employees, and injuring more than 100 people. South Carolina's Governor, Henry McMaster, has stated that the Amtrak train appears to have been on the wrong track, but CSX controls the dispatching of all trains and maintains all of the tracks and signal systems.  
  2. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck along the coast of Taiwan Sunday, about 10 miles north-northeast of Hua-lien. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred at a depth of about 4.8 miles, but there were no immediate reports of any damage or injuries. Taiwan's high-speed rail system and local railways were all operating normally, however, another quake of slightly smaller magnitude at 5.3, was reported a short time later, with several other similar magnitude quakes occurring all morning. 
  3. California's reprieve from its severe drought appears to have been short-lived as scientists have declared more than 40 percent of the state is now in a state of moderate drought. At least three counties were rated as being in a severe drought, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, but with near record-high temperatures and no rain in the forecast that rating could expand to other locations. To make matters worse, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is lower-than-normal, at less than a third of normal for the date. Only two months remain in the peak rain and snow season, leaving some room for hope, as do the higher than normal reservoirs levels after last season's near-record rainfall. 
  4. Schools in the Branchburg Township School District in Branchburg, New Jersey were closed Monday due to a flu outbreak that affected essential personnel. According to the Department of Health, during the week of January 20-27, New Jersey had a staggering 2,582 new flu cases, and the state has had nearly double the number of flu cases this year than in 2017. Health officials say the best thing to do to stop the spread of the flu is to wash your hands, avoid others who are sick, and if you get sick, stay home to avoid spreading the illness to anyone else.  
  5. As part of the its disaster-preparedness program, Makati, a city in the Philippines, has distributed nearly 12,300 Emergency Go Bags to several public schools. The Go Bags are filled with essential items such as food, water, hygiene and first-aid-kits, and are designed to help individuals and families survive-at least for 72-hours-following a disaster. The kits are just one part of disaster-readiness that the Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office has implemented in its comprehensive plan to assist individuals with survival capabilities following an emergency or disaster.  
  6. New data released from UNICEF indicates that children affected by conflict and disasters have higher illiteracy rates, which equates to nearly 60 million children. According to UNICEF, in the age group of 15 to 19-year-olds, nearly 30 percent living in an 'emergency country' cannot read or write. Girls are affected the most with at least 33 percent of female children without the basics of reading, while about 24 percent of male students fall into the same category. UNICEF noted that only about 3.6 percent of humanitarian money is spent to educate children living in emergency situations as a result of conflicts or disasters.  
  7. A new study has strongly linked Oklahoma's increased seismic activity to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and wastewater injection, increasing the earthquake threat level in some parts of the state to the same threat level as some areas in California. Scientists noted that the earthquakes that have rocked the area with increasing frequency since 2009 were not related to natural tectonic shifts, so they began to look at human activity. In the new study, scientists found a correlation between the depth that the wastewater was injected and the strength of the earthquake and recommended that injection depths be reduced.  
  8. Freezing rain followed by over two feet of snow this past weekend in Moscow, Russia, resulted in the death of at least one person and the injury of five others. The freezing rain and heavy snowfall knocked down thousands of trees and caused power outages for at least 40,000 people. The combination of freezing rain, then a heavy snowfall made snow removal difficult, even in a city accustomed to snow, causing numerous travel delays. The record snowfall is the heaviest the city has ever seen since record keeping began, surpassing the previous record high snowfall that occurred in 1957. 

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.