Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: New Jersey Train Crash, South Carolina School Shooting, Hurricane Matthew

EDM Friday Briefing: New Jersey Train Crash, South Carolina School Shooting, Hurricane Matthew

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 30, 2016: A commuter train crashes into a Hoboken, NJ terminal, a school shooting occurs in Anderson County, SC, police have a 14-year old suspect in custody over the Anderson County shooting, Tropical Storm Matthew becomes a category 2 hurricane, protests in El Cajon turn violent, the Paris Agreement is close to being entered into force, the CDC issues a travel advisory regarding Southeast Asia, and Congress passes a funding bill that includes money for Zika.

    1. A commuter train crashed in Hoboken, NJ during the morning commute on Thursday at around 8:30 a.m., triggering a massive disaster response. More than 20 ambulances initially headed to the scene to assist victims and provide transport to area hospitals. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie confirmed one dead and another 108 people injured, with some in critical condition.

    1. Early Wednesday afternoon, a shooting occurred at Townville Elementary School in Anderson County, SC, injuring two students and Meghan Hollingsworth, the first grade teacher. One of the students, Jacob Hall, was shot in the leg and suffered massive blood loss when the bullet pierced his femoral artery. The blood loss resulted in cardiopulmonary arrest, leading to a major brain injury due to an aneurysm. Jacob is listed in critical condition.
    2. The 14-year old who opened fire at the Townville Elementary School is now in custody and is being held at the Greenville County Detention Center Juvenile Facility. The school attack occurred just a short distance--about 3.5 miles--from a home where another shooting left the teen's father, Jeffrey Osborne, dead. Neither racial motivation nor terrorism is suspected with either shooting, and officials could charge the suspected 14-year old as a minor.
    1. The tropical storm in the eastern Caribbean Sea became a hurricane Thursday afternoon, and has quickly strengthened to a category 2 storm with sustained winds of 100 mph. Hurricane Matthew is the fifth hurricane of the 2016 season in the Atlantic Ocean and likely poses a threat to portions of the northern coast of Colombia and to Aruba, Bonair, and Curaçao where tropical storm watches have already been issued. The storm is also likely to impact Jamaica, Hispañola, the eastern part of Cuba, and the Bahamas near the beginning of next week. As a tropical storm, the system already caused flooding on the island of St. Lucia, with sustained winds in Barbados at about 39 mph. Its threat to the United States is still uncertain at this time, although the storm is predicted to turn sharply to the north sometime over the next several days.

    1. Protests turned violent in El Cajon, CA Thursday night, with 50-75 people blocking streets, frustrating drivers, some of whom were attacked by protestors. Around 8:00 p.m. on Thursday night, police declared the protests unlawful due to the violence and ordered protestors to leave the area. Protestors then responded by throwing glass bottles at police officers. Pepper balls were deployed by police and at least two people are in custody, a 28-year old man and a 19-year old, both of whom are from El Cajon. The protests were sparked by the police shooting of an unarmed African-American man that was acting erratically on Tuesday.
    1. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change announced on Thursday, September 29, that one of the two thresholds required to put the Paris Agreement on Climate Change into effect has been met. An additional 32 countries gave their instruments of ratification during the UN General Assembly held last week, making that a total of 61 countries that have jointed the Agreement. The next threshold is that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by a combined total of 55 percent, a goal not yet reached with a total 47.79 percent committed to by signatories. It is likely close, however, as 14 more countries have committed to ratifying the agreement with total greenhouse gas emission reductions of a minimum of 12 percent, making it very possible that the agreement would enter into force sometime this year.
    1. A new record has been reached in atmospheric carbon levels. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have exceeded 400 ppm, a number not likely seen on earth in at least a million years. According to the World Meteorological Organization, gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide contribute to greenhouse gases that are fueling climate change, affecting future generations on earth by making the planet inhospitable. Most scientists agree the new 400 ppm threshold is likely permanent.
    1. A special travel advisory was issued to pregnant women and those who are trying to get pregnant by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday, cautioning them against nonessential travel to 11 countries. The reason for the warning is the increase in the number of Zika cases that have occurred in the regions. The countries are noted as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, East Timor, and Vietnam with a stronger warning to avoid any travel to Singapore.
    1. A new deal has been reached by Congress allocating $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus and its effects. The funding is part of a larger deal that was reached in order to keep the government running after its fiscal year ends on Friday. The funding is considered important because, according to the CDC, more than 23,000 people have contracted the Zika virus in the United States and Puerto Rico. $394 million is to be used to for methods that help control mosquitoes likely to be carrying the virus, while the other $397 million will help fund better diagnostic tests and the development of a vaccine. The final $66 million is allocated to Puerto Rico and other U. S. territories to help boost health care for affected individuals in those areas.
  1. Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States. Yet, according to the CDC, the peak time for the flu throughout the year is between December and March, with the highest month being February. As many different new strands of are being identified around the country, and the rapid increase in deaths related to such, there has been great discussion on when is the right time to get vaccinated.

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.