Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Death Toll Rises in Montecito, California Following Deadly Mudflow

EDM Friday Briefing: Death Toll Rises in Montecito, California Following Deadly Mudflow

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 12, 2018: The search window to find survivors after a deadly mudflow in California is closing; an IV fluid bag shortage impacts the United States; an influenza outbreak triggers an Idaho elementary school to close; funding for the U.S. earthquake early warning system is steadily declining; secondary impacts of Hurricane Maria have severe negative outcomes for Puerto Rico as murders rise exponentially; the FBI releases age-progressed pictures of alleged Pan Am Flight 93 hijackers; a jury in Quebec is now deciding the fate of those accused in the deadly 2013 crude oil train derailment and explosion; and a cold front moving eastward is bringing a wintry mix of precipitation to states from Arkansas to New England.

1. As rescue crews continue to search for survivors after the deadly mudflow in Montecito, California, the death toll has risen to 17, including 4 children. An estimated 48 people are still missing -- a number that continues to change. About 75 percent of the debris field has been searched, and officials stated that the death toll is likely to rise. In Montecito, nearly 60 homes have been destroyed; electricity, gas, and water services have been disrupted to most of the area; and crews are working to clear a 30-mile stretch of the 101 Freeway that was inundated with mud, cars, and other debris.

2. The secondary impacts from Hurricane Maria's devastating blow to Puerto Rico extend far beyond the island, as IV fluid bags are now in short supply across the United States, forcing medical staff to make difficult decisions. IV fluids are critical for patients to receive in cases of trauma, especially for patients with heavy blood loss, and to administer life-saving drugs, such as chemotherapy. The main facilities that manufacture the IV fluid bags are in Puerto Rico, and production of the life-saving IV fluid bags abruptly halted after the island lost power from the storm.

3. A flu outbreak in Idaho has shut down a school, as nearly 40 percent of the students have been stricken with the virus. School officials canceled classes for the rest of the week at Pinehurst Elementary in the Kellogg School District, in order to deep-clean the facility and allow families and children time to seek medical attention, rest, and recover. At least 13 people in Idaho have died from influenza-related illness so far this year.

4. Funding for the earthquake early warning system, known as ShakeAlert, has been steadily declining for years, according to seismologists at the California Institute of Technology. Currently, annual federal funding stands at $8.2 million, just over half of the required $16 million needed to support the project, which can provide time to alert critical facilities and functions, such as schools, hospitals, and transportation systems. Currently, the United States falls behind other countries in earthquake early notification systems including China, Italy, Romania, Turkey and parts of Japan. Japan has the most sophisticated earthquake warning system, even though it is a decade old.

5. As Puerto Rico recovers from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the already bankrupt island has suffered severe secondary impacts. About one-third of the island still remains without power, there is a reduction in police officers patrolling the streets because they are owed overtime pay and homicides have experienced a dramatic increase. Reports indicate that 32 people have been killed since January 1, 2018, and officials indicate that post-storm conditions have also fueled a deadly struggle over drug-gang territory.

6. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released age-progressed pictures of the men who allegedly hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 on September 5, 1986 in Karachi, Pakistan. There were 379 people on board the aircraft when it was attacked. Twenty people were killed, including two Americans, and over 100 other people were injured during the hijacking. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5 million each for information leading to the hijackers' arrest and/or conviction.

7. Jury deliberations are beginning in Quebec, Canada over the 2013 oil train derailment that killed 47 people. Train engineer Tom Harding, traffic controller Richard Labrie, and train operations manager Jean Demaitre are charged in connection with the accident. The runaway train was carrying crude oil when it derailed and exploded. They are accused of failing to properly perform a brake test and not applying enough hand brakes to the train. Consequently, a fire broke out on the locomotive and firefighters shut off its engine. The braking system was compromised and the train began moving on its own, which resulted in the deadly crash.

8. A cold front is moving eastward and impacting several states with a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky. The front has prompted a variety of watches and warnings for Friday from the Mississippi Valley to the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, along with the Great Lakes and New England. Authorities are urging residents throughout the area to stay informed about what could be rapidly changing weather conditions and to use caution when traveling.  Conditions have already caused flooding in some areas and could be dangerous for the Friday afternoon commute.

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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.