EDM Digest Wednesday Briefing: Typhoon Meranti, Zika, Bees, Earthquake in Colombia, Wildfire in Greece
Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 14, 2016: Super Typhoon Meranti is now the largest storm of the year, free Zika testing is being offered in Miami Beach, Zika appears in Singapore, aerial spraying of insecticides is being blamed for the death of millions of honey bees, a study links neonicotinoid insecticides to bee colony die-offs, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hits the city of Medellin, Colombia, and Greece declares a state of emergency on Thassos Island due to a massive wildfire.
- On early Tuesday morning, the eye of Super Typhoon Meranti, a Category 5 storm, was centered directly over the small Philippine Island of Itbayat -- a storm that was originally predicted to weaken. The island has 3,000 inhabitants and it is not known if the residents had time to evacuate or prepare before the storm impacted the island. On Tuesday evening, the eye of Super Typhoon Meranti, the Pacific Ocean's strongest storm since Haiyan, was located just south of Taipei, Taiwan, where its sustained winds were estimated to be 190 mph. Meranti is now reportedly the strongest storm of the year, and is expected to make landfall in southern Fujian, China sometime Wednesday night into Thursday, possibly as a weakened Category 3 storm.
- Officials in Miami Beach, FL are offering free Zika testing in the area known as the "Zika transmission zone" to residents and those who work within the region. A photo I.D. is required and resident and area workers can be tested between 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. or 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at the Miami Beach Police Department. Total non-travel related infections of Zika in Florida now stands at 64.
- Zika virus is now in Singapore. According to the Singapore’s Ministry of Health, there are now 333 reported cases since the first confirmed reported case on August 27. That is an average of nearly 19 new cases daily. Surrounding regions are now on alert, as they fear that they may be next.
- The latest assault against the Zika virus has come with some deadly backlash. On August 26, the Dorchester County, SC Administrator's Office announced they would attempt to rid of Zika mosquitoes by conducting aerial spraying of Naled, an insecticide developed to kill adult mosquitoes. The insecticide is deadly to bees, and spraying notifications were reportedly not received by all hive owners, resulting in the death of approximately 2.5 million honey bees.
- In recent years, concern has grown regarding the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and their impacts on bees, as large colonies of bee populations have begun dying off in rapid fashion. A new study released in August highlighted results of 18 years of data collection and bee colony observation in England regarding the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and their effects on bee colonies.
- A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 66 miles to the northwest of Colombia's second largest city, Medellin. According to the USGS, the quake, which was about 45 miles deep, occurred as a result of a subduction zone, where two masses of land interact with each other. No immediate injuries or fatalities were reported.
- In a criminal settlement regarding the gas leak that occurred near Porter Ranch, CA in 2015, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has agreed to pay $4 million. According to filings and official reports, the 2015 leak, which began on October 23, has cost the company over $700 million to date, but documents show at least 100 more civil cases pending against them. The company was prosecuted by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which stated that the charges were a failure to notify the appropriate authorities when the leak began.
- A state of emergency has been declared on the northern Greek island of Thassos, as a wildfire burns out of control. The fire started when a dry thunderstorm moved through the area over the weekend, and at least five firefighters have been injured while attempting to contain the blaze. Officials estimate that at least 25,000 acres have burned, along with eight homes and a dozen farm buildings, and that the fire has killed livestock. At least 250 firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which, according to officials, currently poses no threat to any coastal resorts.
- In Fresno, CA, residents filed a lawsuit against the city, its public utilities department, and two contractors over alleged water contamination. Earlier this year, after receiving more than 300 complaints about discolored water, the city began investigating the issue. Lead and other toxins were found in the water at levels that exceeded allowable amounts. Concerns have grown since the city switched from underground sources to using treated surface water nearly 12 years ago as the water began discoloring. The lawsuit cites the corrosion of pipes that eventually resulted in the discolored and contaminated water.
- On Tuesday evening, the National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning from Ponte Vera Beach north to Altamaha Sound in Georgia due to the formation of Tropical Storm Julia just off the north eastern coast of Florida. The tropical storm has sustained winds of about 40 mph, but is not expected to strengthen much due to its interaction with Florida. Tropical Storm Julia was located just 11 miles west of Jacksonville, FL at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday, and is expected to produce heavy rains with the possibility of flash flooding before weakening back into a tropical depression later on Wednesday.
— PDC (@disasteraware) September 14, 2016