Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Emergency Managers Take New Approach to Hurricane Season Preparedness
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Emergency Managers Take New Approach to Hurricane Season Preparedness

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Emergency Managers Take New Approach to Hurricane Season Preparedness


Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 13, 2020: Missouri officials say the state is prepared to handle natural disasters amid COVID-19; the Bish Creek Wildfire is burning out of control in British Columbia; emergency management agencies take a new approach to hurricane season preparedness; Idaho has approved a fire break plan to help control the spread of wildfires; a low pressure system off the east coast of Florida is likely to develop into the season's first subtropical or tropical system; the NWS in Utah is evaluating public messages for potential improvement after two young sisters were killed during a canyon flash flood; and FEMA is asking residents to be prepared for the upcoming 2020 hurricane season.

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1) Officials in Missouri say they are prepared to handle natural disasters amid COVID-19. The governor recently assured residents of the state that even though it is a daily balancing act between the virus, a reopening of the economy, and severe weather, the state is prepared. Gov. Mike Parson noted many emergency management agencies across the state had experience dealing with multiple disasters and that the Missouri National Guard has maintained readiness in many areas, including engineering, aviation, and security.

2) The BC Wildfire Service in British Columbia has classified a wildfire near Kitimat as out of control. The Bish Creek wildfire is burning in a remote area of northwest BC and about 6 miles southwest of Kitimat. It jumped from 37 to 98 acres overnight Monday to Tuesday amid high fire danger conditions. The wildfire is burning in an area with cutbacks left behind by former logging operations, near the Kitimat LNG site.

3) Emergency managers along the Gulf Coast typically prepare for hurricane season by visiting senior centers, churches, housing authorities, and other locations to help ensure preparedness. COVID-19 has drastically changed how that can occur, and planning this year has moved the preparedness presentations online. Preparing for the approaching hurricane season has proved challenging for many states, several of which have experienced multiple weather-related disasters amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Mississippi emergency management personnel have worked seven days a week for nearly three months due to historic February floods and multiple, deadly tornadoes in April — all while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

4) In an attempt to prevent giant rangeland wildfires, Idaho has approved a plan to cut fuel breaks. The plan will help protect southwestern Idaho with the clearing of vegetation along 435 miles of roadways. The fire breaks will tie into an existing fuel break system in Nevada, and they are part of the Tri-State Fuel Breaks Project that also includes Oregon and Nevada. The fire breaks will help protect 5,600 square miles of land, much of which is vital to sagebrush steppe ecosystems, cattle ranchers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

5) The development of  a subtropical depression or storm is likely to occur off the coast of Florida over the next five days. The area of low pressure is being watched by the National Weather Service (NWS) for development and is most likely to move to the northeast over the Atlantic. The low pressure has a 70 percent chance of organization over the next five days, although the system will likely have little to no impact on Florida.

6) The New Mexico Counties Wildfire Risk Reduction Program has awarded more than $236,000 in grants to multiple recipients. The grant funding supports local governments, tribal entities, and nonprofits to increase wildfire awareness and prevention efforts. This year's recipients will use the grant money to fund community wildfire protection plan updates, fuel reduction treatments and support education efforts.

7) The National Weather Service (NWS) is evaluating public messages for potential improvement after a flash flood in the San Rafael Swell area resulted in the deaths of two young sisters. The NWS stated that while there was only a 10 percent chance of a flash flood, a localized storm produced heavy rainfall and hail over a 30-40 minute period, which caused the flash flood in Emery County, Utah, on Monday. The young sisters, ages three and seven — along with their entire family — were swept away, and a helicopter spotted the body of the three-year-old more than 30 miles away on Tuesday.

8) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is asking residents to be prepared for the upcoming 2020 hurricane season and the changes brought by COVID-19. The 2020 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30, and being prepared is essential to saving lives. The Ready.gov site encourages everyone to know their hurricane risk, make an emergency plan, gather supplies (enough for several days), know their evacuation zone, and recognize warnings and alerts.


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.