EDM Monday Briefing: Hurricane Matthew Moves Out to Sea, Police Officers Killed in Line of Duty, Drought Impacts Trees
Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 10, 2016: Two Palm Springs, CA police officers die in the line of duty after being shot, Hurricane Matthew moves out to sea after battering the East Coast for four days, a tornado outbreak hits Kansas, partial service is set to resume at a New Jersey train station after a deadly commuter train accident, drought continues to weaken trees and allow invasive species into California forests, authorities arrest a teenage suspect for allegedly threatening to commit violence at a California high school, and a traffic stop turns deadly in Syracuse, NY.
- On Saturday, two police officers in Palm Springs, CA were shot and killed, and another was injured, after responding to a domestic dispute call. Officers Jose Gilbert Vega Lesley Zerebny have both died. According to reports, the suspect, John Felix, was a known gang member and police are investigating the possibility that he was intentionally looking to kill police officers. The alleged shooter barricaded himself in his home, so SWAT team sealed off the area. The suspect, who was carrying ammunition and wearing body armor, was taken into custody after a 12-hour standoff with authorities.
- Hurricane Matthew battered the East Coast for four days before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and finally moving out to sea early Sunday. At least 19 deaths have been blamed on the storm, including eight in North Carolina, six in Florida, three in Georgia, and one each in Virginia and South Carolina. Impacts along the path of the hurricane include damages to structures and homes, downed trees, and road washouts in the Carolinas and Florida. Power outages are still common in the four states impacted by the hurricane, and road and school closures are widespread, especially along the coast of South Carolina. The president signed disaster declarations for the states impacted by the hurricane.
- In North Carolina, heavy rains from Hurricane Matthew caused record-breaking floods on at least four rivers, and authorities caution that the rising waters will continue for several days even though the rain has ended. Late Sunday, Goldsboro, NC officials advised that the Neuse River was likely to flood and issued voluntary evacuation orders. Residents in North Carolina near the Tar River in Princeville, received a mandatory evacuation order as the river crested at least two-and-a-half feet above its previous record height.
- Drought can have numerous impacts on area soils, trees, and ecosystems, much of which can allow invasive species to attack native vegetations, and, in some instances, can cause massive tree death. California forests are facing the impacts of drought on a wide scale, including both sudden oak death and effects of the bark beetle. Information compiled in a recent analysis by The Weather Channel showed how California forests, weakened by the ongoing drought, are now being killed by the invasive bark beetle.
- In Kansas, at least eight tornadoes touched down across the state last Thursday, placing the month of October 2016 fourth in history for total number of tornadoes. The highest number ever recorded in the month was 28 in October 2006. Several of the tornadoes damaged or destroyed structures and trees, but authorities reported no deaths. Forecasters are blamed a slight shift in the wind direction that increased the instability of the air for what is being termed the "second season" tornado outbreak.
- Service is set to partially resume in the Hoboken train terminal where a commuter train crashed more than a week ago. Eight of the 17 tracks are now back into service at the station, which connects to ferries and other trains bound for New York. Investigators found that the train was traveling at twice its allowed speed when it barreled into the station, killing one person and injuring over one hundred others. As a result of the crash, and in an effort to improve safety, Senator Chuck Schemer is urging the installation of forward facing cameras in all New Jersey trains.
- On Friday in Temecula, CA, a authorities arrested a 15-year-old student for allegedly using social media to make threats against Chaparral High School. A thorough search of the campus conducted by bomb squad officers and bomb-sniffing dogs failed to locate any credible threat, but officials canceled school for the day. The threats gave the date and time as Friday at 10 a.m. for when the violence would supposedly occur.
- During a reportedly routine traffic stop by a Syracuse, NY police officer late Sunday night, the driver exited his vehicle and opened fire on the officer. The police officer returned fire, hitting the driver at least once. The driver of the vehicle was transported to a local hospital where he later died. A gun was recovered at the scene, and the incident occurred about half a mile from Syracuse University, prompting students to take to social media about why they were not being provided more detailed information regarding the incident.
Photos of Ofcrs. Gil Vega and Lesley Zerebny, who were shot and killed today. pic.twitter.com/IWCFkic1rQ
— Gabby Ferreira (@Its_GabbyF) October 9, 2016