Home Emergency Management News EDM Digest Friday Briefing: Puerto Rico Devastated by Hurricane Maria, Power Is Likely to Take Months to Restore

EDM Digest Friday Briefing: Puerto Rico Devastated by Hurricane Maria, Power Is Likely to Take Months to Restore

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 22, 2017: After two days, a survivor is pulled from earthquake rubble in Mexico City, a Florida nursing home license is revoked following the deaths of ten patients, weak infrastructure leaves Puerto Rico in the dark following Hurricane Maria, two more sinkholes have opened up in Central Florida, British Columbia is finally seeing relief from its devastating wildfire season, SEC computers may still contain major vulnerabilities, Colorado gains control of a fire sparked by an electrical power cap insulator, and CVS announces new prescription measures to help fight the exploding opioid crisis.

      1. Two days after a major 7.1 earthquake hit just south of Mexico City, rescuers pulled a survivor out of the rubble of a three-story textile factory that collapsed. The death toll from the major earthquake continues to rise as at least 286 people have been killed by the quake. Dozens of buildings across the city collapsed, however, the textile building was one of the largest, and at least 21 people have died as a result of its collapse.
      2. The license for the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills in Florida has been suspended after ten patients died at the Florida nursing home following Hurricane Irma. Power to the nursing home was knocked out during the storm and on the third day of the power outage, eight of the nursing home's patients died. Officials stated that body temperatures of four of the deceased patients were between 107 and 109 degrees.

      1. Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico early Thursday morning as a powerful Category 4 storm, leaving devastation in its wake and the entire island without power. A weak and failing infrastructure due to longtime poor maintenance and upkeep made the electrical system particularly vulnerable, and officials estimate that it could be next year before power is fully restored across the island. Nearly two feet of rain also fell across the island, resulting in flash flooding that, along with debris and downed power lines and trees, made travel throughout the island nearly impossible.
      2. There are now two sinkholes in a Florida neighborhood in Orange County after a second sinkhole opened up about 100 feet from a home. The new sinkhole is the second to open in Apopka this week, with the first one structurally damaging the home and forcing the homeowners to evacuate. The second hole is about a half-mile away from the first and nearly double its size at approximately 30 feet wide, although the homeowner has not been evacuated since it is not directly impacting the home as of yet.
      3. After nearly three months of wildfire evacuations and alerts, British Columbia, Canada is getting some much needed relief. Emergency management officials lifted all alerts and evacuations on Wednesday as fire fighters have majority of the fires nearly contained. There are still 14 fires burning in the southeastern portion of the province, but cooler weather has helped crews gain control of the fires. The wildfire season in British Columbia has seen the evacuation of nearly 50,000 people, the destruction of 509 structures, including 229 homes, and cost at least $510 million to fight the fires.

      1. On Wednesday, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Jay Clayton stated that he learned in August that a security breach that occurred in 2016 may have been exploited for illegal insider trading. Reports indicate that in January, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also found five critical weaknesses in the SECs computers, listing the them as having the fourth most critical vulnerabilities among civilian government agencies. Although it is unclear if the vulnerabilities are related to the breach, prompt "patches"after the 2016 breach may not have addressed all weaknesses in the SECs system.

      1. As of Thursday, a wildfire burning east of Dillon, Colorado that was sparked by a power line insulator cap that exploded on Monday was nearly 75 percent contained. Dubbed the Tenderfoot 2 Fire, approximately 70 firefighters have been battling the blaze that began Monday evening in dry grasses and quickly spread to timber areas. The public is being asked to avoid the area and trails in the Oro Grande and Tenderfoot mountains remain closed
      2. As the opiod crisis explodes across the country, pharmacy giant, CVS, has announced that for certain conditions, it will limit opiate prescriptions to seven days. The new program will also limit the daily dosage of pain pills according to their strength, while also requiring immediate-release formulations before the company will dispense extended-release opioids for severe, long-term pain treatment. The changes will encompass all plans, public and private, and are set to begin February 1, 2018.


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.