Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Kilauea Lava Flow Reaches Pacific Ocean Creating Hazardous 'Laze'

EDM Monday Briefing: Kilauea Lava Flow Reaches Pacific Ocean Creating Hazardous 'Laze'

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 21, 2018: Continued eruptions over the weekend of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano sent lava across a highway and injured one man, swift moving lava flows have reached the Pacific Ocean and created toxic laze, two people are dead and several others are injured after a man plowed his SUV into a restaurant in North Carolina, Congo began its vaccination campaign against Ebola on Monday, recently released police video of wildfire evacuations in Santa Rosa shows their heroic actions amid fire horror, the death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico remains largely unknown, three inmates escaped from a South Carolina prison over the weekend prompting a massive manhunt, and authorities now say that some of the explosive devices found in conjunction with Friday's school shooting were functional.

  1. Continued eruptions of Hawaii's Mount Kilauea over the weekend created additional hazards for residents in the area where multiple fissures exist. In the first serious injury since the volcanoes eruption began, a man had a portion of his lower leg shattered when lava splatter landed on him as he was sitting on his third floor balcony. Two lava flows also merged and crossed a highway over the weekend, and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) experts noted that repeated eruptions have resulted in additional ash plumes, including one that went as high as 7,000 feet into the air early Monday morning. The USGS also warns that seismic activity has again been increasing since noon Sunday near the volcano, which likely indicates that more eruptions are imminent.  
  2. Hotter and faster flowing lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has now reached the Pacific Ocean, resulting in what the USGS is calling lava haze, or laze. Laze occurs when lava mixes with salt water and releases a steam cloud that is a toxic mixture of hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles. The USGS warns that even in small amounts, laze can feel like glitter hitting the skin, cause irritation of the skin and eyes, and create breathing problems.  
  3. A man identified as Roger Self, 62, drove his SUV into a restaurant on Sunday, killing two people and injuring several others in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The man reportedly had dropped off his family at the restaurant before going to park the car, but instead rammed his SUV into the restaurant and killed his daughter, who was a Gaston County Sheriff's deputy and his daughter-in-law, a nurse who was married to a Gaston County Police Officer. Police have not identified a motive for the attack, but Self faces at least two murder charges as a result of the incident.  
  4. At least four cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the metropolitan city of Mbandaka, near the Congo River, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). So far 46 cases of Ebola have been reported in the DRC, including three healthcare workers, 21 of which are confirmed, 21 probable, and four suspected cases, which has prompted the nation to implement a vaccination campaign. Vaccines will be given first to healthcare workers, then those who had direct contact with anyone sick with Ebola, and then will be given to the people they have contacted. The death toll in the current outbreak has risen to a total of 26 people, and WHO warns that a larger outbreak may occur because the disease has now reached an urban area.  
  5. Police video captured during the California wildfires in 2017 that killed 44 people shows the desperate attempts by law enforcement to evacuate everyone in the fire's path--placing their own lives at risk throughout the entire ordeal. The videos, which are reportedly going to be used as lessons to improve future response efforts, including training and evacuation planning, captured the constant blowing of wind and embers that drove the wildfire 12 miles in just 4 hours. Officers encountered several who staunchly refused to evacuate, while others, including elderly residents in a luxury retirement home, were gently guided to buses as police tried to calm their fears.  
  6. Nearly eight months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, an official death toll caused by the Category 4 storm is still largely unknown. According to the Puerto Rican government, the current death toll stands at 64, but skepticism remains regarding that figure. A team led by George Washington University is attempting to count deaths, but data exists from multiple and various sources, including hospitals, death certificates, and funeral records, making it difficult to sort through and record the number of deaths accurately. 
  7. Three inmates escaped from a South Carolina prison on Saturday, prompting an extensive manhunt that resulted in the capture of one of the escaped inmates Sunday night. Two inmates, both murder suspects, are still on the loose, and law enforcement warns that the men are dangerous. No details have been released as to how the three inmates escaped, but investigators are questioning other inmates who may have helped them escape.  
  8. New information released by officials investigating the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas and the explosives that were later discovered in connection with the shooter, declares that at least some of the explosive devices were found to be functional. Previously, authorities had stated that the devices--CO2 canisters wrapped with duct tape--were not operational. The findings could result in additional federal charges being filed against the shooting suspect, Dimitrious Pagourtzis. Pagourtzis is being charged with capital murder charges in the Santa Fe High School shooting that left 10 dead, including eight students and two teachers, and another 13 people injured.  

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.