EDM Thursday Briefing: Flint Water Crisis, U.S. Investigates Ukraine Cyber Attack, Terrorism in Philadelphia
Emergency and disaster management Thursday Briefing for January 14, 2016: The Michigan National Guard joined FEMA and others already providing aid in Flint, MI for the city's ongoing water crisis, Flint reports a spike in reported cases of Legionnaires' disease in the region, and the U.S. lends a hand in Ukraine's investigation of a December cyber attack.
- The Michigan National Guard arrived in Flint, MI yesterday to help distribute bottled water, filters and other supplies to residents as the city attempts to recover from a man-made disaster that resulted in dangerously high levels of lead in the city's drinking water. FEMA and Michigan State Police, among others, have already provided aid in the ongoing crisis.
- A sharp rise in cases of Legionnaires' disease has been discovered in the Flint area. The state Health and Human Services Department reported 87 confirmed cases and 10 deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria. Officials say that, at this point, there's no clear evidence of a link between the bacterial outbreak and the current water contamination crisis.
- The U.S. government said it is helping Ukraine investigate the cyber attack that occurred in December and resulted in a blackout for an estimated 80,000 customers. Security researchers widely believe that the outage was caused by a cyber attack and Russian hackers are suspected as having a prominent role. Some are questioning whether this attack on Ukraine's power grid is a sign of things to come.
- Alabama announced that it will ask for federal disaster help to aid recovery from historic floods that hit the state during the week of Christmas and extended into the new year. The state is asking for funds to help from cover millions of dollars in damage to roads, bridges and other public facilities.
- The FBI is now calling the shooting ambush of a Philadelphia police officer that took place last week a terrorist attack. Alleged shooter Edward Archer reported told police that he was "acting in the name of Islam" and investigations continue into whether Archer has terror connections. Authorities are still looking into a tip that placed Archer as one member of a group of four that could potentially try to do harm to other officers.
- The city of Chicago reversed course yesterday and agreed to release yet another police shooting video to the public. The Chicago Police Department agreed to release a video that contains footage of the fatal police shooting of unarmed teen Cedrick Chatman in January 2013. This will be the third release of a fatal police shooting involving Chicago Police in the past few months, following the release of the Ronald Johnson video in December 2015 and the Laquan McDonald video in November 2015.
- California had two of the ten largest wildfires in the U.S. in 2015, a year in which U.S. wildfires scorched a record-setting 10.12 million acres. Now, wildfire-charred California communities face serious landslide threats as El Niño-fueled storms continue to pummel various regions of the state.
- While California authorities are concerned about landslides associated with heavy rains from El Niño-fueled storms, they are also welcoming the rain as a potential end to the state's ongoing drought. Storms have already dropped a lot of rain in some areas -- as much as 1.4 inches in Los Angeles on Tuesday alone -- and officials are focused on catching as much rain water as possible before the water runs out to sea.