Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Polar Vortex Grips the Midwest; Chicken Nuggets Recall
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Polar Vortex Grips the Midwest; Chicken Nuggets Recall

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Polar Vortex Grips the Midwest; Chicken Nuggets Recall

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Emergency management briefing for January 30, 2019: A polar vortex has descended on the Midwest as wind chills reach into the minus-50s; five police officers were shot while serving a search warrant in southeast Houston; schools are closed and travel has been impacted by the polar vortex gripping the Midwest region; a fire ripped through the private resort island of Princess Cruises in the Bahamas; three people are dead after a medical transport helicopter crashed in a wooded area in Ohio; the nation's largest utility company--PG&E--has filed bankruptcy in the wake of the Camp Fire; Tyson Foods has issued a recall for over 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets; and four people are dead and 195 injured following severe weather and a rare tornado in Havana, Cuba.

  1. As the polar vortex descends on the Midwest, residents in Minnesota awoke Wednesday morning to wind chills in the minus 50s, with International Falls reporting a wind chill of minus 54, while Minneapolis had a wind chill of minus 52. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned that today's highs in Chicago will reach minus 17 to minus 11, with wind chills between minus 45 and minus 60. Weather forecasters are warning those affected by the polar vortex to avoid the outdoors, and if that is not possible, to limit exposure by dressing in layers and covering all exposed areas of the body, and to limit the time spent outdoors to prevent serious injury or even death. 
  2. Five officers working undercover in southeast Houston were shot on Monday, and another seriously injured his knee, while trying to deliver a narcotics search warrant. Undercover officers from the Narcotics Division, supported by patrol officers, surrounded the home of suspects--Dennis Tuttle, 59, and his wife, Rhogena Nicholas, 58--and entered the home, where the first officer was attacked by a dog. Officers were then fired upon by Tuttle, who was shot and killed in the shootout, and Nicholas, who was reaching for a downed officers' shotgun, was also killed.  
  3. The polar vortex impacting the Midwest has also affected travel in some locations, including Chicago, which saw flight cancellations from Tuesday through Thursday by United Airlines--about 500 flights--and Southwest Airlines, which cancelled 700 flights. All trains out of Chicago on Wednesday and into Thursdays were also cancelled by Amtrak, while winds caused the blowing and drifting of snow across roadways, reducing visibility and impacting travel for motorists. The U.S. Postal Service also suspended service in some areas, and classes were cancelled and schools closed from North Dakota to Pennsylvania, as record arctic wind chill temperatures gripped the region.   
  4. A fire ripped through Princess Cruises' private island, Princess Cays, in Eleuthera, Bahamas, Monday night around 11:00 p.m. The fire destroyed several buildings on the south side of the island, and burned trees, and took local firefighters about an hour to contain. No injuries were reported, and there were no guests on the island at the time of the fire, and although some public restrooms were affected, none of the burned buildings were guest-facing facilities. 
  5. A medical helicopter crashed in a wooded area in Vinton County, Ohio, Tuesday morning and killed all three crew members on board--the pilot and two flight nurses. The Bell 407 helicopter, operated by Survival Flight, a medical transportation company, was flying from Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City, to pick up a patient in Pomeroy, when the company lost all communication with the helicopter. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the incident.  
  6. The nation's largest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), which operates in Northern and central California, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. The bankruptcy filing raises concerns that consumer rates will be driven higher, and payouts to wildfire victims may also be greatly reduced. The move comes after several lawsuits have been filed against the utility, including those filed after the state's most destructive wildfire in history--the Camp Fire--which killed 86 people, scorched nearly 153,000 acres, and destroyed the town of Paradise.  
  7. Tyson Foods, Inc., has issued a recall for chicken nuggets due to possible contamination by foreign matter. The company issued the recall for 36,420 pounds of its White Meat Panko Chicken Nuggets, with a best-by-date of November 26, 2019, after consumer complaints were received. The specific foreign matter identified in the product is rubber, but there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the product.  
  8. The capital city of Havana, Cuba, was hit by a rare tornado Sunday night, which killed four people and injured at least 195 others. Buildings in the city were also damaged by strong winds, while low-lying areas were impacted from flooding from the severe weather that struck the island nation. Utility poles and trees were knocked down, and power was cut to most of the city following the tornado, while a local maternity hospital had to be evacuated due to storm damage.   

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.