Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: September Is National Preparedness Month
EDM Friday Briefing: September Is National Preparedness Month

EDM Friday Briefing: September Is National Preparedness Month


Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 18, 2020: Power outages and road closures could remain for weeks in Alabama and parts of the Florida panhandle following heavy rainfall from Hurricane Sally; one patient died after a hospital in Germany experienced a ransomware attack that rerouted her to a remote hospital farther away; Tropical Depression Twenty-Two is likely to become a Tropical Storm sometime Friday; experts warn that ransomware attacks on school districts are on the rise; residents in California are now able to monitor air quality levels in their neighborhoods; TSA agents may have prevented an in-air disaster from occurring when agents spotted a carry-on bag with a possible explosive device; residents in Oregon are being warned of possible debris flows from burn scars after heavy rainfalls; and September is National Preparedness Month and there are multiple online sites that offer resources for families to ensure preparedness for emergencies or disasters.

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1) Power outages and road closures could last for weeks in Alabama and parts of the Florida panhandle after Hurricane Sally came onshore. The hurricane's slow movement produced copious amounts of rainfall — from 10 to 3o inches in some locations — and prompted high water rescues in many parts of the Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center said the system moved over Georgia and the Carolinas before hitting Virginia, where flash flood warnings and moderate river flooding were likely.

2) A ransomware attack crippled a hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany, and resulted in the death of at least one patient. The patient, who had a life-threatening condition, had to be rerouted to another more remote facility to receive care, because the attack prevented the emergency room from adequately handling patients. The rerouting of the patient delayed treatment by about one hour, which caused the patient's death. Authorities in Dusseldorf are now seeking the hackers for negligent manslaughter.

3) Tropical Depression Twenty-Two has formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico; it is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm later Friday and be named Wilfred. Forecast tracks are somewhat uncertain at this time. However, the National Hurricane Center shows the storm eventually becoming another hurricane and interests along the Gulf Coast should closely monitor the storms' progress.

4) As schools reopen for another year, ransomware attacks have been increasing, with about a dozen schools being targeted. Two high-profile school systems have been involved in the attacks, including Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut and the nation's 10th largest school district — Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. A typical attack has hackers threatening to steal student information and sensitive documents from administrators, and then requiring a ransom from the school district to return the files unencrypted.

5) As wildfires continue to rage across California and the West Coast, residents in Southern California can check air quality levels in their neighborhood via an interactive map. The map, produced by South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), provides up-to-the-hour data for residents via a color-coded legend. The data is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Residents can search via the colors, which indicate varying air quality levels, impact levels and the best actions to take to avoid exposure.

6) An airline passenger had his carry-on luggage searched due to what appeared to be a possible explosive device. The power source for two large electronic devices appeared to have been tampered with, prompting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent to call in two explosive experts to look at the devices. According to reports, the passenger stated that there were no batteries available in the location to which he was traveling, and he voluntarily surrendered the devices when asked.

7) Oregon officials are warning that heavy or prolonged rainfall that occurred Thursday is likely to lead to debris flows across the state. The many burn scars from recent wildfires, many of which are still burning, leaves the ground unstable. The exposed soil can quickly lead to landslides, rockslides and debris flows. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries warned that the debris flows move faster than people can run, and trees, structures, and roads can be washed away in an instant.

8) September is National Preparedness Month, and many organizations offer online tools and kits to assist families with being prepared, while encouraging others to maintain their preparedness. Creating an emergency plan is essential to ensuring a family has enough food, water, and first aid supplies to last for at least three days following a disaster, along with an escape route and/or evacuation location. Several online resources include NACCHO.org, Ready.gov and Weather.gov, all of which provide extensive information about various disasters, tools, tips, and other assistance to ensure preparedness.


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.