Home Emergency Management News EDM Digest Wednesday Briefing: Train Attack, Zika Virus, NYC Transit, Wildfires in CA & ID

EDM Digest Wednesday Briefing: Train Attack, Zika Virus, NYC Transit, Wildfires in CA & ID

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 20, 2016: A train attack in Wurzburg, Germany injures 5, wildfires are burning in California and Idaho, June follows suit with record high temperatures, a Kansas City police officer is shot and killed, the Baton Rouge gunman is said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Florida is investigating a non-travel Zika virus case, a sewage spill closes beaches in Southern California, and New York City set to invest $27 billion in its mass transit system.

  1. In Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany on Tuesday, a teenager stormed a train with an ax and a knife, injured five people, and left many other passengers in shock. A family from Hong Kong was among those injured. Said to be self-radicalized, the train attacker allegedly shouted 'Allahu akbar' before the attack, and a hand drawn Islamic State flag was found in the teenagers room, according to officials. Police shot and killed the 17 year old suspect after he fled from the train. Two of the people injured remain in critical condition.
  2. Another wildfire broke out Tuesday in Hollywood Hills, California, near the 101 Freeway. The fire quickly grew to 18 acres as more than 200 firefighters battled the blaze. The Hollywood Reservoir was used by aerial support teams to scoop water and dump it on the blaze. Voluntary evacuations were given for residents on Holly Drive, and exit ramps to the 101 Freeway northbound were closed, as was northbound Cahuenga Boulevard beginning at Odin Street. As of 6:00 p.m Tuesday evening, the fire was 50 percent contained and firefighters were estimating at least several more hours before the blaze could be brought fully under control.
  3. Near Boise, Idaho, another brush fire is burning that started at approximately 1:00 p.m.on Tuesday and was allegedly human caused. The fire quickly grew from around 1,000 acres, to about 2,000 acres, is still growing rapidly, and is zero percent contained. The fire has destroyed at least three structures, according to reports, and shifting winds placed an additional ten structures at risk from the fire. Nearly 150 firefighters are battling the blaze, including local, state, and federal personnel, with about five 20-person hand crews that were in place to fight the fire overnight into Wednesday. The fire covers an area of steep terrain, making access difficult, but almost a dozen aircraft were busy dropping retardant and water scooped from nearby Lucky Peak Reservoir. No evacuations have yet been ordered as a result of the blaze.
  4. According to data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), June set global record-high temperatures, making this the 14 month in a row of higher than average temperatures since record keeping began 137 years ago. Although June's temperature was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average, it was just 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit above the recorded 2015 June temperature - enough to nudge ahead and claim the record. Overall, this makes the 34th consecutive June that has had temperatures above average, even if only slightly. The fading strength of the strong 2015-2016 El Niño appears to be calming the spike in record-breaking global temperatures, and a shift to La Niña is expected later this year.
  5. On Tuesday, a police officer was shot and killed in Kansas City, Kansas when suspects he was chasing, who were allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting, left the vehicle and opened fire as the officer was arriving. The police officer, Captain Robert Melton, 46 years old, was a 17 year veteran of the police force. Mark Holland, the mayor of Kansas City, has asked that citizens prayerfully and thoughtfully wait for an investigation to be conducted as to why the officer was shot and not jump to premature conclusions. This is the second police officer this year in the Kansas City, Kansas police department that has perished in the line of duty.
  6. More details have emerged about the gunman that shot six Baton Rouge police officers on Sunday, killing three. Gavin Long was a former Marine who began serving in 2005, did a tour in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010 as a sergeant. Reports suggest that Long also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and had prescriptions for Ativan, Valium, and Lunesta. Before ambushing and shooting some of the officers of the Baton Rouge police department, Long allegedly stalked the department. One of the officers, Nicholas Tullier is still in critical condition after the shootings. In an exchange of gunfire, police shot and killed Long. 
  7. The Baton Rouge police officer shootings began three days of tragedy, including the death of Philando Castile in Minnesota and the killing of five police officers in Dallas. It also came just about two weeks after Baton Rouge police shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37 year old man, outside a convenience store. The killings sparked protests across the nation resulting in blocked streets that halted traffic, sometimes for hours, injured police officers, and resulted in multiple arrests of protestors.
  8. Florida health officials are investigating what could be the first transmission of the Zika virus not related to travel.  According to reports, the case was reported in Miami-Dade County, where officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an epidemiological study. Officials have urged Floridians and visitors to take precautions against mosquito bites, and have already conducted reduction and prevention activities in the area of concern. Kits that include repellant to prevent the spread of the Zika virus are being distributed in the area under investigation, and are also available for pick-up. In total, over 1,300 cases of Zika have been reported across the United States, with all but fourteen of the cases travel related. Although officials agree that the mosquitos carrying the virus are likely to migrate to the United States, they believe that those areas most at risk include low-lying, high heat areas, including southern Florida and southern Texas.
  9. In southern California, beaches have been closed due to a massive sewage spill that is thought to be contaminating ocean waters. On Monday, twenty miles away in Los Angeles, a buried pipe collapsed, sending 2.4 million gallons of sludge into area streets where it made it way to storm drains, many of which flow into the ocean. At least 750,000 gallons of the sewage was contained, diverted, or vacuumed up by crews, however some of the sludge made its way into the Los Angeles River - likely making its way into the Pacific Ocean. The Los Angeles River is a 51 mile concrete channel that passes through urban and industrial areas in the city on its way to Long Beach. Built in 1929, made of tile-lined concrete and buried 18 feet underground, the pipe was scheduled for replacement in two years.
  10. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that $27 billion dollars has been allocated for new, flashy, high-tech subway cars and 30 station upgrades the city's mass transit system. The new cars will feature Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, digital displays for travel, and illuminated alerts for door-openings. Wider doors, and an 'open car end' design will ease the movement of people on the trains, and reduce train times at stations due to ease of entry and exit. The new upgrades do not come without other costs, including the disruption of services and closures of some stations, which could last for up to six months at some locations.

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.