Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Gatlinburg, Dakota Access Pipeline, Oakland Fire

EDM Monday Briefing: Gatlinburg, Dakota Access Pipeline, Oakland Fire


Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 5, 2016

  1. The death toll now stands at 14 in the Gatlinburg, TN wildfires. The fires occurred as a result of drought conditions and hurricane strength winds, which rapidly spread embers throughout the area. Nearly 14,000 people evacuated the area, but officials indicated that a loss of communication abilities due to power failures prevented a mobile phone evacuation alert. The number of homes, businesses, or other structures damaged or destroyed by the unpredictable wildfires is estimated by officials to be 1,684.
  2. On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit to run the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahu and said that alternate routes needed to be explored. Current environmental assessments indicate that the originally approved route creates the least impact, but protestors argue that the new pipeline threatens the water supply and sacred lands for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The current route parallels or closely follows the Northern Border Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline.
  3. A major fire that broke out in an Oakland, CA converted warehouse during a dance party is responsible for the deaths of at least 33 people, as the search for victims continues amidst the ruins. The roof collapse, along with portions of the second floor falling onto the first floor, made the structure unsafe for rescue workers, delaying the search for hours. By Sunday night, officials had only searched 35-40 percent of the building. Seven of the victims have been identified and families notified, but officials warn that identifying the remaining victims may require DNA comparisons and asked families to preserve items that may contain potential samples.
  4. In Japan, officials are focused on arming their incoming teachers with the knowledge and training needed to be prepared and better protect students in the face of natural disasters or other safety threats. The mandatory course comes after the 2011 tsunami and the deaths of more than 20 children in the Okawa Elementary School due to teachers having insufficient knowledge of disaster or crisis management. Lack of knowledge allegedly delayed evacuation efforts and contributed to the death toll. The new classes will be integrated into existing curriculums at universities across the nation and be required for all students pursuing a degree for teaching. 
  5. For the first time, the House has passed legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act that includes Critical Infrastructure Protection Act legislation which is aimed at protecting the nation's critical infrastructure. The legislation that passed the House seeks to protect the nation's electrical grid from a geomagnetic disturbance and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), which is a "high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles" as defined by the Heritage Foundation. Protecting the electrical grid is becoming more critical as the nation, and the world, becomes more reliant on electronic devices that link nearly everything, including the nation's power grid.
  6. Passengers were evacuated by emergency slides after the nose landing gear collapsed on a United Express plane in San Antonio. Pilots diverted the aircraft after receiving a gear indication warning while enroute to Monterrey, Mexico. The flight, operated by Skywest Airlines, held 51 passengers and four crew members, all of whom safely evacuated.
  7. On Sunday, a man wielding an assault rifle fired it inside a pizza shop in Washington, DC while trying to determine if a child-sex ring was being run at the location by the stores proprietors. The fake story being spread across social media alleges that the shop owner was allowing Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with her former campaign manager, to run a child-sex ring out of the shop. The shop owner and its employees have reportedly been threatened via social media since the false story began circulating. The suspect, Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old from Salisbury, N.C. was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
  8. An off-duty corrections officer was shot and killed Sunday night while sitting in her car in Brooklyn, NY. The victim is identified as Alastasia Bryan, a 25-year-old female, and one of the New York City correction union's youngest members. Bryan, who suffered gunshot wounds to the head and torso, died at the scene. The investigation is ongoing, and police have obtained surveillance video of the incident, but are unsure if the attack was planned or random. This is the second corrections officer shot in a week in New York City.

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.