EDM Monday Briefing: West Virginia Flooding, Brexit, California Wildfire, Dead Trees
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 27, 2016: West Virginia braces for more rain while attempting to recover from deadly floods, political turmoil remains in the U.K. after Brexit, a wildfire in central California grows to more than 43,000 acres, the U.S. Forest Service discovers millions of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada, and an Amtrak crash results in five deaths.
- West Virginia continued its struggle to recover from deadly flooding that hit the state late last week. Heavy rains and ensuing floods led to at least 25 deaths in the state. In addition to the fatalities, the floods destroyed hundreds of homes, buildings, bridges, roads and vehicles. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called the flooding among the worst in a century.
- Tomblin received approval for his request of a federal disaster declaration, and teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been dispatched to assist local authorities in the response. But the historic flooding may not be over, as more heavy rain is forecast for today in some of the regions in West Virginia already hit hard by the heavy rain. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for at least 25 West Virginia counties today.
- Political response to Brexit in the U.K. remained chaotic this weekend in the aftermath of the historic decision. Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would be stepping down, but few other political specifics are known at this point. "Brexit" refers to the "British exit" of the European Union (EU), which British voters decided on June 23, 2016. Amid the turmoil, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Britain and the EU work together to minimize the disruption both within Britain and across global markets.
- A wildfire in central California was still burning late last night despite the fact that more than 1,700 firefighters were battling the blaze. The fire killed two people and destroyed more than 200 structures before crews could achieve about 40 percent containment. The fire, which is burning north of Los Angeles in Kern County, grew to more than 43,000 acres yesterday.
- The U.S. Forest Service reported that 26 million trees have died in Southern California since October 2015, which makes the total more than 66 million since 2010. Drought and insect infestations are thought to be responsible for the vast majority of the deaths. With 66 million dead trees now sitting in a relatively small region, the threat of wildfire has increased dramatically, officials said.
- An Amtrak train collided with a van in Colorado yesterday morning, killing five people. Three children were among the fatalities in the crash, which occurred south of Denver near Trinidad, CO. The van's driver and four van passengers were killed,; none of the 280 passengers on board the train en route to Los Angeles from Chicago reported injuries.
- The Government Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed two dozen federal agencies and discovered many lacking in several key cybersecurity areas. Of the 24 agencies surveyed by the GAO, 75 percent stated that cyber attacks from “nations” are the common threat to the security of their systems, and that cyber attacks received via email were, by far, the most common and most serious.
- President Barack Obama extended executive orders last week that impose sanctions on North Korea, restating that Pyongyang poses an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to the U.S. Specifically, the executive order notified Congress of the continuation of the national emergency with respect to North Korea, which was initially put in place back in 2008.
- In a recent report from Houston Public Media, Darrell Habisch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urged people to not give up when they receive a rejection letter from FEMA for aid. Often, Habisch said, the reason for rejection is an easy fix, so applicants should follow up after a denial.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently designated four Idaho counties as natural disaster areas. Canyon, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties in Idaho are now officially considered natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by drought.