EDM Wednesday Briefing: New Orleans Tornadoes, Dakota Access Pipeline, Chicago Police
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 8, 2017: Severe weather spawns destructive tornadoes in New Orleans, construction likely to resume soon on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a multi-state killing spree ends in suicide and surrender, Chicago Police Department under fire again after newly released report, a government audit finds wastewater treatment plant in California mismanaged millions of federal funds, Facebook launches new page on its Safety Check app, icy roads lead to multiple pile-ups in Massachusetts, the flu claims the lives of four children in New York, and heavy snow forecasted for northern parts of the East Coast.
- Severe weather along the gulf coast on Tuesday spawned at least six tornadoes in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, destroying homes and businesses, knocking out power and inuring more than 25 people. No deaths have been reported as a result of the storms. At least 12,000 customers were without power due to the violent storms that affected Orleans, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Ascension, and St. James Parishes. Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency dispatching police and members of the National Guard to patrol streets in an effort to prevent looting.
- In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said it will grant the permit request that will allow the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Army indicated that the environmental impact statement previously called for will not be completed. The granting of the easement is the final step in the process. Once given, the remaining distance of the pipeline could be built in just a few months.
- A multi-state killing spree ended on Tuesday after one suspect surrendered and the other died in an apparent suicide. William Boyette and Mary Rice, who allegedly killed four women in Alabama and Florida, were seen at a motel in West Point, Georgia. After being notified of their location, deputies and a SWAT team were making preparations to enter the motel when Rice came out of the hotel room and surrendered. As Rice was being taken into custody, officers heard a single gunshot inside the room. Upon entering the room, officers found Boyette's body.
- A report released Tuesday by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law concluded that Chicago police officers should not be permanently assigned to the Chicago Public Schools. The report indicates that a high number of citizen complaints, improper training, and little accountability plague the officers. Misconduct settlements for officer actions on and off school grounds from 2012 to 2016 reportedly cost the city $2 million. Many of the concerns closely mirror a report released in January by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding deficiencies in the Chicago Police Department.
- The Victor Valley Water Reclamation Authority (VVWRA), a wastewater treatment plant in California, mismanaged Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding according to a recent government audit. The funds were provided by FEMA to the VVWRA six years ago after flooding caused a major pipeline to rupture. The audit, conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, found that three contracts totaling $31.7 million did not comply with numerous regulations. The report cites a lack of accountability for contract costs, failure to perform cost/price analysis, and a failure to follow procurement procedures and other violations.
- Facebook is launching a new page on its "Safety Check" feature: Community Help. The page is designed to allow residents to offer assistance by posting available items, including food, water, supplies or a place to stay. Community members needing assistance will be able to search categorized posts, connect via messenger, and receive needed assistance. The new feature launches today in six countries including the United States, Canada, and Australia.
- Icy roads in Massachusetts led to an approximate 55-vehicle accident on I-95 North/Route 128 in Wakefield early Wednesday. The accident was just one of several multi-vehicle crashes that occurred across the state due to the icy weather conditions. The highway was closed for several hours as crews worked to remove vehicles and eight people were reportedly injured as a result of the pile-up.
- This seasons influenza is turning deadly for children. In New York, four children died in January from the flu, with a total of 15 pediatric deaths due to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases are also continuing to increase each week. Health Department officials are urging everyone to practice good hygiene, including hand washing to help prevent the flu's spread.
- A quick moving but strong storm is set to slam the East Coast north of Philadelphia late Wednesday into Thursday. Some areas could see snowfall amounts of at least a foot. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter storm watches for areas predicted to receive at least six inches of snow or more, such as in New York and Boston.
Fb pushes us for more than "thoughts & prayers" allowing locals to offer food, water, etc to nearby crisis victims https://t.co/K4gbbCanMA
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) February 8, 2017
Wow. 55 car pile up in Boston area due to black ice. Emergency rooms teeming with fall injuries. Snowstorm tomorrow... Stay safe ❄️ https://t.co/Zmpbznna1j
— Austin Chiang MD (@AustinChiangMD) February 8, 2017
— CDC Flu (@CDCFlu) February 8, 2017