EDM Monday Briefing: DHS Warns on Cyber Attacks, Rare Tornadoes Hit Florida, Federal Aid Heading to Flint
Emergency and disaster management Monday Briefing for January 18, 2016: The DHS issued a warning regarding cyber attacks on electrical power infrastructure in the U.S., deadly tornadoes touch down in Florida, and federal aid makes its way to Flint, MI.
- The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) of the Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) issued a warning regarding power grid cyber attacks. According to the DHS, electrical power infrastructure in the United States is "increasingly at risk by employing industrial control systems that are vulnerable to hacks."
- Rare and fatal tornadoes hit Florida yesterday, resulting in at least two deaths. Tornadoes touched down in both Manatee County and Sarasota County, with winds reaching as high as 127 mph. This year's unusually strong El Niño is being blamed by some weather experts for the turbulent Florida weather.
- President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, MI this weekend, which clears the way for federal funding to reach the city and help with recovery as it deals with its serious drinking water crisis.
- With so much coverage on the water crisis in recent weeks, Flint officials have been under much scrutiny, and questions of who knew what, and when they knew it are still circulating. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly knew of tainted water months ago but did not move quickly and it is still uncertain when both city and state officials knew of water contamination. Now, some are going as far as saying that Flint residents have been betrayed and must demand changes.
- In response to the massive natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, CA, which is still an ongoing crisis, California officials proposed new emergency regulations for natural gas storage in the state. The proposed changes center on an increase in both inspections and safety protocols at natural gas storage facilities in the state like the one in Porter Ranch.
- California officials are investigating possible new health concerns related to the gas leak in Porter Ranch. There could be more cancer-causing chemicals leaking from the site than first believed, and residents are demanding answers as the crisis drags on.
- The gas leak in California is bringing questions of whether there is a need for federal regulation of natural gas sites nationwide. In the wake of the CA leak, environmental groups in other states are now taking a long, hard look at the status of natural gas facilities within their borders. Michigan is said to have a vast, aging underground infrastructure, and environmentalists say that Ohio currently has few checks for natural-gas storage leaks.
- President Obama signed a disaster declaration in Washington state for widespread damage that occurred in harsh November 2015 storms. Federal assistance is now available in 16 Washington counties. Washington Governor Jay Inslee requested federal assistance in 31 counties earlier this month.