Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Dangerous Polar Vortex in Forecast

EDM Monday Briefing: Dangerous Polar Vortex in Forecast

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 28, 2019: A tailings dam burst released a torrent of mud in Brazil that killed 58 and left more than 300 missing; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the twin church bombings that killed 20 in the Philippines; at least 68 people have died on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi after it was slammed with floods, landslides, a tornado, and a dam overflow; a gas leak caused an explosion that injured nine in The Hague, Netherlands; a hotel wall collapse in Peru killed 15 people at a wedding celebration; a polar vortex will bring dangerously and possibly life-threatening cold temperatures and wind chills to the Midwest by midweek, multiple boats broke free of their moorings on the Hudson River, forcing bridge closures as they floated south; the search for the toddler who fell down an unmarked well in Spain has ended; and as the flu season reaches its peak, the illness has forced school closures in multiple states.

  1. A tailings dam burst in Brazil on Friday and released a torrent of mud that slammed into the mining company's offices and through the town of Brumadinho. The torrent of mud swept away everything in its 500 foot wide path, killing 58 people and leaving more than 300 others missing, many of whom were employees or contractors for the mining company that owned the iron ore tailings dam--Vale SA. Homes were knocked over, roads were washed out, and a railway bridge was completely destroyed by the torrent of mud.  
  2. Twin bombings at a Catholic Church in the Philippines has killed at least 20 people and left more than 100 others injured. The first bomb went off inside the cathedral on JoJo Island in the Sulu Province, while the second bomb was detonated outside as security forces responded to the first bomb. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack via their Amaq news agency, and the Philippines president has vowed to crush the terrorists who orchestrated the twin suicide bombings.  
  3. Floods, landslides, and a tornado have battered the Indonesian island of Sulawesi over the past week, leaving at least 68 people dead and nearly 7,000 people displaced. The heavy rains over the region also caused a dam to overflow, and more than 5,000 homes were submerged, and damage occurred to schools, bridges, and places of worship, while thousands of acres of rice paddies were destroyed. Heavy equipment was needed to clear a thick layer of mud off roadways and from around homes before residents were able to begin returning home.   
  4. Several people were trapped beneath rubble when a gas leak caused an explosion in a residential area of The Hague in the western Netherlands on Sunday. Nine people were injured when part of an apartment building collapsed as a result of the blast, which also left nearby homes unstable, forcing mandatory evacuations of residents. Seven people were taken to nearby hospitals, while rescuers spent several hours Sunday night trying to free a man who remained trapped in the basement of the apartment building that collapsed from the explosion.  
  5. Heavy rainfall caused the wall of a hotel to collapse in Abancay, an Andean city in southern Peru, and 15 of the guests attending a wedding celebration at the time of the collapse, were killed. Guests were celebrating in the garden of the Hotel Alhambra when the wall failed, crushing people under a tent like structure. Thirty-four people were wounded, five critically, and rescuers were reportedly still searching for survivors for several hours after the collapse occurred.  
  6. The Midwest is bracing for frigidly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills beginning midweek. Snowfall, which began over the weekend in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, will be followed by a polar vortex that is forecast to bring extreme cold and dangerous wind chills to these areas beginning on Tuesday. The National Weather Service forecast calls for the worst of the cold blast to hit Wednesday and Thursday in Fargo, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit, with the cold air dipping into parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, and as far south as northern Alabama.  
  7. Multiple boats broke free of their moorings amid ice jams and floes near Troy, New York on the Hudson River Friday morning, forcing road closures at bridges during the morning rush hour. Authorities monitored the free floating boats as they cruised south on the river, and were forced to close bridges between Troy and Albany as the boats approached, in order to protect motorists. One boat, a river cruise ship, slammed into a railroad bridge, where it was stuck for several hours, and forced Amtrak trains to reduce speeds--until two ice-breaking Coast Guard cutters and two tugboats--were able to free the vessel and tow it back to Troy.  
  8. The search for the toddler who fell down an unmarked well in Totalan, Spain has ended after rescuers found the lifeless body of the two-year-old boy early Saturday morning. The narrow well was just 10 inches wide and 300 feet deep, but was blocked with soil, raising fears the well had collapsed on top of the toddler. The little boy fell into the well while he was walking through a private estate in southern Spain with his parents on January 13, and miners drilled day and night to try to reach the little boy, Julen.   
  9. As the flu season reaches it peak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that a total of 22 children have died from "influenza-associated" cases. Widespread flu activity has caused the closure of schools in several states, including Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, and Tennessee, as school districts grapple with poor student attendance from the illness. More than 10 percent of students were absent in the Boaz School District in Alabama on Friday, forcing the school district to close its schools on Monday and Tuesday, January 28 & 29.  

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.