EDM Friday Briefing: Opioid Epidemic is Declared a Public Health Emergency
Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 27, 2017: President Trump declares the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, explosions at an Indonesian fireworks factory kill at least 47, during her visit to South Sudan, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley was forced to evacuate suddenly, a new FEMA Disaster Assistance Center opens in Homestead, Florida, a new report indicates that the Syrian government is responsible for April's sarin gas attacks, police arrest a suspect in the shooting deaths at Grambling State University in Louisiana, the high cost of recovery continues five years after Superstorm Sandy, and the wildfire threat continues in Southern California amid high heat but relief is in sight.
- President Trump on Thursday declared the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation a "public health emergency," helping cut through regulatory red tape that allows states more flexibility in their use of federal funds to combat the epidemic. A presidential memo signed by Trump directed Eric Hargan, acting Health and Human Services Secretary, to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act. This is a critical step that directs federal agencies .
- Two explosions on Thursday ripped through a fireworks factory in Tangerang, Indonesia, a manufacturing and industrial hub just west of the nation's capital city of Jakarta. The double blast killed at least 47 people, injured more than 45 others, and caused students at a nearby school to run for cover. According to one doctor treating patients at Tangerang General Hospital, of at least seven individuals burned over 80 percent of their bodies, three were in critical condition. The incident is likely to bring additional scrutiny to often lax and weakly enforced safety regulations in the Southeast Asian country.
- U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was evacuated suddenly from South Sudan when political protestors became upset and turned violent when she was unable to meet with them due to time constraints. Haley was visiting a U.N. camp meant for homeless and displaced residents resulting from the ongoing conflict in the nation. Civil war erupted in 2013 in South Sudan amid allegations of government corruption, causing mass displacement and starvation.
- In an effort to assist victims of Hurricane Irma that moved through Florida nearly a month ago, a new FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Disaster Assistance Center has opened in Homestead. The center will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. every day until November 8, and be in addition to another center that opened last month on Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus. The new center will also be staffed with recovery specialists from FEMA, the state, and the U.S. Small Business Administration to assist residents with filling out applications and paperwork.
- A report sent to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday declared that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the sarin gas attacks in April that killed dozens of people. In the same report, ISIS was cited as being responsible for the sulfur mustard attacks in the Syrian town of Umm Hawsh on September 16 and 17, 2016. The report also indicated that a lack of consequences for the use of banned chemical weapons in the international community is likely to encourage their use by others.
- An arrest has been made in the Grambling State University deaths that occurred around midnight Tuesday following an altercation that ended with a student and his friend being shot and killed. Police in Louisiana arrested Jaylin M. Wayne, who faces first degree murder charges, when he surrendered to police on Thursday. Officials said the shooting was not related to domestic terrorism, nor was it random, since the suspect and the victims were acquaintances.
- Nearly five years post-Superstorm Sandy, recovery continues in the devastated areas of coastal New York and New Jersey, where damages reported by the two states were $32.8 billion and $36.8 billion, respectively. Public assistance funds paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the two states to help with recovery totaled a combined $15.4 billion, while aid to individuals and households topped $1.42 billion combined. Payouts received by claimants in both states from the National Flood Insurance Program reached more than $8 billion in combined payouts. Some of the public assistance funding was used to purchase land to be returned to nature, while other funding restored beaches and boardwalks that were destroyed during the storm.
- Scorching temperatures are breaking records in California as fears of wildfire outbreaks remain heightened among residents. The dangerous heat is expected to last into the weekend across Southern California due to weak offshore winds, although temperatures will only reach into the 90s instead of the 100s. Cooler weather is expected to replace the current hot and dry air by the end of the weekend, as onshore winds will replace the heat with a layer of cooler marine air by Sunday night. The cooler temperatures are likely to allow the seven remaining wildfires still burning to be contained by the end of the week, according to CalFire.
Indonesia fireworks factory blast kills 47 https://t.co/pvD4mWpeKU
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) October 27, 2017