EDM Thursday Briefing: Fort McMurray Wildfire, D.C. Credit Card Debt, USGS Flooding App
Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 5, 2016: A wildfire in western Canada continues to burn and expand, Washington, D.C. struggles to pay off debt from this winter's snow removal payments, the USGS releases a new flooding app, and researchers think they found a way to slow the spread of Zika virus.
- The massive wildfire in Fort McMurray in western Canada has forced more than 88,000 people to flee the oil city. The fire burned down 1,600 structures, and now the city's airport and regions south of the city are at risk. More than 250 firefighters, helicopters and air tankers are battling the fire, which is now extended to nearly 25,000 acres. No injuries or fatalities have been reported as of yet.
- In just one snowstorm this January, Washington, D.C. spent $55 million on snow removal. That amount is more than it cost the city to get rid of snow in the past seven years combined. Officials ended up charging almost half the expenses on city credit cards, which has created a big debt problem that has left officials scrambling to find ways to pay off the enormous debt.
- Last month, when the state of Texas was battling through some dangerous floods, the USGS launched a new smart phone tool that brought forth a helpful suite of information to help state residents through the tough times. The new app provides comprehensive weather and climate data all in one place, pulling data from more than 750 real-time observation stations in Texas, and from multiple outside sources like the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Researchers recently confirmed that a bacteria known as Wolbachia could help to slow the spread of Zika virus. Scientists say that releasing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into the wild could drastically decelerate the spread of the virus, as mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia often become shielded from a variety of competing infections. The bacteria is then passed to offspring, and some strains even make it impossible for an infected male to reproduce with an uninfected female.
- "This was a man-made disaster ... this was avoidable, this was preventable," President Barack Obama told a crowd in Flint, MI yesterday. President Obama, visiting the city for the first time since the drinking water crisis struck months ago, assured Flint residents that federal response teams are working hard to make water safe in the city once again. The EPA recently concluded that Flint water, with the use of filter, is now safe for everyone except children under six and pregnant women.
- Earlier this week, the city of Newburgh, NY declared a state of emergency after discovering a dangerous chemical -- Perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS -- in city drinking water. Yesterday, the city manager rescinded the state of emergency after officials changed the water supply and took other steps to make the water safe once again.
- Florida currently leads all U.S. states in the number of confirmed Zika cases with 102. With Florida health officials confirming three new cases in the state on Tuesday, Senator Bill Nelson urged Congress to fund a $1.9 billion emergency appropriationthat was requested by President Barack Obama to fund the fight against the virus. The legislation that would allow the funding remains stalled in Congress.
- The town of Pueblo, CO conducted a large emergency preparedness exercise yesterday. As part of The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, nearly 2,000 people participated in drills that emulated a chemical incident and a hazardous materials emergency. The list of participating groups included the American Red Cross, Center for Disabilities, Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Pueblo City Schools, Pueblo City Transit, and many more.
- A manhunt is underway in New Jersey after a man convicted of manslaughter escaped a New Jersey state correctional facility on Tuesday. Arthur Buckel, escaped from the Bayside State Prison just weeks before being eligible for parole. Schools that were locked down due to the escape will be reopened today with an increased police presence.