Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey; Chicken Skewer Recall

EDM Friday Briefing: Texas Braces for Hurricane Harvey; Chicken Skewer Recall

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for August 25, 2017: Hurricane Harvey churns its way toward Texas as a strong Category 2 storm, New Orleans braces for secondary rainfall impacts from Harvey amid pumping station woes, pre-storm preparations prompted by East Texas Emergency Management officials include multiple agency involvement, a heat surge in the western United States will increase the wildfire threat and impact air quality, police shoot and critically wound an active shooter that killed one in Charleston, South Carolina, the remains of a second victim in the Naval ship collision outside Singapore has been identified but 8 are still missing, more Zika testing for pregnant women in Texas is recommended, and a recall has been issued for over 20,000 pounds of chicken skewers distributed in the United States.

    1. Harvey is now a strong Category 2 Hurricane churning in the Gulf of Mexico, moving northwest at 10 mph, with winds of 110 mph and a central pressure of 950 mb, or 28.05 inches, and headed directly for Texas. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting the storm to continue to intensify until landfall and  become a major Category 3 storm before striking Texas early Saturday morning with winds speeds of up to 120 mph. Storm surge, tropical storm, and hurricane watches have been issued up and down the coast of Texas and into Mexico, with hurricane warnings issued from Port Mansfield to Sargent, Texas, which includes the city of Corpus Christi. Portions of coastal Louisiana may also experience storm surge amounts from 1 to 3 feet and residents in the path of the storm are being asked to heed all emergency management directives, including evacuations orders, and be aware of any changes to area watches and/or warnings.
    2. Secondary threats from Hurricane Harvey include tornadoes and excessive rainfall amounts likely to be produced from the storm, including up to 35 inches over portions of Texas, with outlying areas seeing lesser amounts. This includes parts of Louisiana where at least 10 inches of rain, and up to 20 inches may be likely beginning early Sunday. Critical deficiencies were exposed in the unique drainage system of New Orleans after recent strong storms already overwhelmed the city's system of 100 large pumps, 14 of which are still out of service, leaving the city vulnerable to flooding if forecast rains impact the area.
    3. As Hurricane Harvey approaches Texas, the state is preparing to assist residents across the area in the storms aftermath. The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has already activated 700 members of the state's National Guard ahead of the storm, which included placing military helicopters on standby in Austin and San Antonio. East Texas emergency management officials have been coordinating with state and federal agencies to ensure preparedness, including sending multiple medical teams and other resources to a staging area in readiness. Preparations are also underway for shelters, evacuees, and basic human needs, and officials have requested assistance from churches and non-governmental agencies outside the area, including the Red Cross, which has already deployed two emergency response vehicles to the area from North Texas.
    4. A new heat surge is forecast for the western United States from Sunday through Tuesday, increasing the wildfire threat and reducing air quality across the region as temperatures are forecast to be an average of 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than what is normal for August. Currently, a total of 104 wildfires are burning, including a total of 58 large wildfires, 35 of which are still not contained. More than 19,500 personnel, including 153 helicopters and 1,095 engines, have been assigned to the help fight the wildfires which to date, have consumed a total of 670,941 acres.
    5. On Thursday afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, police were called to an active shooter situation at a restaurant when a man shot and killed the chef then held one person hostage for about three hours. The shooter, a disgruntled former employee, was critically wounded after being shot by police. The hostage was released without any injuries and police identified the fatally wounded executive chef as 37-year-old Anthony Shane Whiddon.
    6. The remains of a second victim in the collision of the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker near Singapore have been identified by the U.S. Navy. So far, search and rescue teams have only recovered 2 of the 10 sailors that have been missing since the collision occurred on Monday, which injured five others, four of whom were transported by helicopter to a Singapore hospital. The two victims recovered have been identified as Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, and from Connecticut, and Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, from New Jersey.

  1. More tests for pregnant women who could be exposed to the Zika virus in Texas counties near the Mexican border are being recommended by the State's health department. Six counties have already been recommended for testing for Zika, which include Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata. The new counties would include Kinney, Maverick, and Val Verde and are being recommended due to the reports from Mexico that local Zika transmission continues across the area, although there is no evidence of any on going Zika transmission in Texas.
  2. A recall has been issued for nearly 20,500 pounds of fully cooked chicken skewers sold by Expresco Foods, Inc. based in Montreal, Canada because they may be tainted with Listeria monocytogenes. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, random testing of the chicken skewers being imported to the United States found evidence of Lysteria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis, and officials are urging individuals to avoid consuming the products. The various products identified in the recall were shipped to retail locations in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Texas and should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

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.