Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: University Bomb Threat, Atlanta Still Recovering from Cyber Attack

EDM Monday Briefing: University Bomb Threat, Atlanta Still Recovering from Cyber Attack


Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 2, 2018: Calhoun County, Alabama is eyeing the threshold for federal disaster assistance after its March 19 tornadoes, a student is in custody following a bomb threat at Marymount University in Virginia on Sunday, FEMA awards Huntsville, Alabama a mitigation grant for a major flood control project, CERT classes are being offered for Ottawa County, Michigan residents, annual premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are set to rise again in 2018, a Delta flight makes an emergency landing at JFK Airport following a bird strike, Wheat Ridge, Colorado residents and businesses now qualify for discounted flood insurance through the NFIP, Toronto-based Hudson's Bay reports that a cyber attack that may have resulted in a data breach of millions of payment cards, and the City of Atlanta is struggling to recover following a cyber attack that has encrypted many of their files.

  1. On March 19, a devastating EF-3 tornado touched down in Jacksonville, Alabama, in Calhoun County, causing millions of dollars of damages. Currently, the total bill for debris clean up and pubic property repairs sits at $4.5 million-about $2.4 million dollars shy of the threshold needed to qualify for federal assistance according to the 1988 disaster relief law formula. However, Jacksonville State University has yet to release its estimated damages, which could help boost the total damages above the threshold, kicking in federal assistance that would pick up three-quarters of the tab. Otherwise, the local community will have to foot the entire bill for the disaster clean up and repairs.   
  2. A student was taken into custody on Sunday following a bomb threat made via social media regarding Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Authorities evacuated the campus early Sunday morning after becoming aware of the threat, and the Arlington County Police Department dispatched K-9 units as a precaution to sweep the campus for any bombs. Officials later cleared and reopened the campus after no evidence of any bombs was found, but noted that even jokes were taken seriously and those responsible would be held accountable.  
  3. Huntsville, Alabama was the recipient of a grant for a drainage improvement project from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The funding award will cover costs to improve drainage along Dallas Branch and Pinhook Creek, part of a larger, more comprehensive hazard mitigation project with an overall cost of more than $15.9 million. The entire project, now entering Phase II, will help protect more that 590 structures in accordance with the city's 100-year flood plan.  
  4. Residents living in Ottawa County, Michigan have an opportunity to become members of their local CERT Team (Community Emergency Response Team) by signing up for an eight-week basic training course set to begin April 11. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limited number of spots available, and closes on April 6. The course covers, among other things, disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, disaster psychology, light search and rescue, terrorism, and fire safety, and information will be available to those taking the classes on how to apply to become members of CERT
  5. The cost of flood insurance provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to rise again this year, by at least 8 percent, increasing the average flood policy from $866 in 2017 to $935 in 2018, before required surcharges, which further pushes the average annual policy cost to around $1,026. Rates for homes with repetitive flood losses, commercial property, and vacation homes may see much larger rate increases--up to 25 percent higher--making it difficult for some to afford flood insurance or to keep their homes.  
  6. A Delta flight departing New York's John F. Kennedy Airport made an emergency landing shortly after take-off due to a bird strike and subsequent engine shut down. Delta Airlines Flight 2836, an Airbus 319 carrying 126 passengers, was about 500 feet off the ground when it encountered the birds, which caused an engine to shut down and the crew to declare an emergency and immediately returned to the airport, where the plane was met by the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter Unit. No passenger injuries were reported, and customers were placed on other flights to their destinations.  
  7. The City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado earned a Class 5 rating from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for their floodplain management, earning residents and businesses a 25 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums. The Community Rating System (CRS) assigns values from 1 to 10 (the lower the score the higher the discount) to communities based on credits earned from their initiatives to better manage flood risks through actions such as floodplain regulation, technical mapping, public information, and warning systems. The CRS system was designed to promote public safety and reward community initiative, and Wheat Ridge is among the top 1 percent of participating communities nationwide.  
  8. On Sunday, Toronto-based Hudson's Bay department store says that they have evidence that a payment card data breach may have occurred and compromised millions of cards, but that it was too soon to confirm if that was the case. Another breach of payment cards also occurred with Saks and Lord & Taylor, by a criminal hacking group known as JokerStash, which sells stolen data to the criminal underground. To date, JokerStash has released about 125,000 payment cards, with nearly 75 percent of them that appear to have been taken from Hudson's Bay, although cyber experts indicate that it is too early to tell from which store they originated. 
  9. https://twitter.com/KimbArsenault/status/980829029774262272

  10. The City of Atlanta, Georgia is still struggling to restore critical systems that were knocked out by a cyber attack more than nine days ago--an attack that has left the city crippled in its wake. The hackers corrupted data on critical systems, shutting down municipal offices, including the courts and the water department, and reverting public employees to paper and pen note taking. Hackers are demanding $51,000 in bitcoin payment to unlock the files--including financial documents and police files--and city officials have not yet revealed whether back-up servers were corrupted or to what extent, or if they have paid the ransom money to restore the system.

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.