Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Largest-Ever Evacuation Underway As Australian Bushfires Rage
EDM Friday Briefing: Largest-Ever Evacuation Underway As Australian Bushfires Rage

EDM Friday Briefing: Largest-Ever Evacuation Underway As Australian Bushfires Rage


Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 3, 2019: Expanding and deadly bushfires in Australia prompted Victoria to declare a state of disaster; military ships and helicopters are assisting with the nation's largest-ever evacuation orders for extremely dangerous bushfires in Australia; five new cases of Ebola have been recorded in the DRC in the last few days; the NFIP has been extended thanks to a recent budget bill passed by Congress; Puerto Rico has been hit by a series of earthquakes since December 28 that have unnerved residents; Indonesia has seeded clouds to help stop the record-breaking and deadly onslaught of rainfall that has been inundating Jakarta and its surrounding areas; coal-fired plants in India miss the deadline for installing emissions equipment to reduce air pollution; and first responders need to be at the forefront of efforts to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

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1) Victoria declared a state of disaster for areas in South Australia scorched by bushfires burning out of control amid extreme temperatures and strong winds that fanned flames. The declaration gives authorities the power to forcibly evacuate people and control services in the disaster area. Authorities are urging people to evacuate at-risk areas ahead of anticipated searing conditions expected to decimate the area over the coming weekend. New South Wales also ordered all tourists and residents to leave national parks and tourist areas before they are trapped by the raging bushfires.

2) After evacuation orders were issued on Thursday, Australia's military is assisting in evacuating tens of thousands of tourists and residents from its east coast. Military ships and helicopters were used to help rescue thousands who were trapped by the bushfires, including about 4,000 people who have been stranded on a beach in the southeastern coastal town of Mallacoota. The fires have left 28 people missing in Victoria and have killed 10 people in New South Wales since Sunday.


3) Five new cases of Ebola have been confirmed over the past few days in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The new cases increases the total number of people infected to 3,382, with a total of 2,232 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that virus activity is still high in Mabalako, Butembo, and Katwa, with a total of 29 new cases of Ebola documented between December 18 and December 31 in the DRC.

4) The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been extended through September 30 after the latest budget bill passed Congress. The NFIP was set to lapse on Tuesday, which would have prevented policy renewals and halted any new policies from being written. The NFIP is the sole source of flood insurance, and home sales cannot be completed if flood insurance is required and the NFIP program lapses.

5) A series of earthquakes that began on December 28 in Puerto Rico has unsettled the island's residents. The latest quake, a magnitude 4.5, hit the territory on Thursday. The first quakes, which registered 4.7 and 5.1 respectively, occurred just a short time apart, knocking goods off shelves in stores, causing cracks in some homes, and dislodging a rock that fell and blocked a roadway. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Thursday quake hit about eight miles south of Guayanilla at a shallow depth of just four miles. The quake was felt in the capital of San Juan and other locations.

6) As rainfall continues across Indonesia, its Air Force seeded clouds with salt on Friday to try to break up clouds before they reached the Jakarta area in an attempt to stop all the rain. Some of the heaviest rain ever recorded has occurred in recent days, triggering deadly landslides and flash floods in and near the sinking city of Jakarta. A total of 43 deaths have occurred, and the floodwaters have left tens of thousands of others displaced.

7) Despite threats from the Indian government to close them down, coal-fired utilities remained opened into the new year in New Delhi. The plants were ordered to install emission-cutting equipment to reduce the output of sulfur dioxide by year end 2019, but only one of the 11 plants has complied with the order. India has some of the worst air pollution in the world, with Wednesday's index rated "severe" in the Indian capital city of New Delhi.

8) First responders are at the forefront when it comes to stopping the spread of antibiotic-resistance infections. Research shows that pre-hospital medicine -- including EMS personnel -- plays a vital role in preventing the spread of these types of infections. Tests show that of 50 stethoscopes tested, one in three tested positive for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). EMS1 has a list of steps that healthcare providers can take to stop the spread of infection, and to protect themselves and patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has an Infection Control Assessment Tool that may be helpful.


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.