EDM Monday Briefing: FEMA Arrives in Flint, Gas Leak Crisis Persists, El Nino Storms Move North
Emergency and disaster management Monday Briefing for January 11, 2016: FEMA officials arrive in Flint, MI to assist with the city's drinking water crisis, the massive natural gas leak in California remains an ongoing crisis, and El Nino-fueled storms move out of California and up the coast.
- FEMA has sent officials to Flint, MI to aid the ongoing crisis with the city's drinking water, even though Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has not yet requested federal financial aid for the issue. According to state and federal law, Snyder can choose to request financial assistance through FEMA now that he has officially declared a state of emergency in connection with the health crisis.
- Porter Ranch, CA residents want the local natural gas facility connected to a massive leak to be shut down permanently. The gas leak, an ongoing issue since December, has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. Experts say that stopping the underground leak is a very complex fix, and the incident could cost the utility company involved, Southern California Gas Company, billions of dollars in the end.
- Environmental experts in Michigan reacted to the recent events in Porter Ranch, pointing out that the state has most underground natural gas storage in U.S. and questioning the state's ability to prevent a similar incident. Michigan has 43 fields storing natural gas in depleted reservoirs and 58 active storage fields scattered across the state, and some aging wells and pipes reportedly haven't been replaced since the 1940s.
- El Nino-enhanced storms will hit areas in the northwestern U.S. early this week, bypassing the regions in California that got hit with severe storms last week.
- The powerful El Nino-fueled storms that battered California last week resulted in flooding, mudslides and tornado sightings, and officials remain concerned that such frequent storms could cause more mudslides and devastation.
- The recent heavy rains in California could have worked to counteract some of the effects of severe drought that regions of the state have experienced in recent years, but experts say that some regions are not really set up to collect this rain water and much of the rain that fell on Southern California last week reportedly flowed right into the ocean.
- The standoff in Oregon revolving around federal land policies in the West is now well into its second week, as armed protesters occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters on January 2 and haven't left since. The occupiers want to get federal land back in private hands.
- On Saturday, members of a group known as the Pacific Patriots Network arrived at the refuge heavily armed and ready to support the protestors, but were turned away, as those leading the occupation of the refuge told the group that they weren't needed. Law enforcement continues to take a 'wait-them-out' approach to the occupation.
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee requested federal disaster assistance to help with recover from severe fall storms. November storms brought high winds and heavy rains, resulting in flooding and landslides -- totaling more than $21 million in damages overall. Assistance has been requested to aid recovery in 31 affected Washington counties.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared three Wisconsin counties primary natural disaster areas. In 2015, late Spring (May and June) frost badly damaged crops in Lincoln, Langlade and Marathon counties. Farmers in those three counties may now be eligible for emergency loans. See the USDA Farm Service Agency's map of all U.S. counties designated for 2015 crop disaster losses.
— HuffPost Science (@HuffPostScience) January 6, 2016