EDM Thursday Briefing: French Emergency App Launches, Zika Threat Widens, Colin Says Goodbye
Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 9, 2016: The French government releases a nationwide emergency alert mobile app, the WHO expands its list of birth defects that are likely linked to Zika virus, the threat of Zika grows rapidly in Puerto Rico, and Tropical Storm Colin heads northeast in the Atlantic and into the sunset.
- The French government released an emergency alert smartphone app to the public that will serve to send quick, mass warnings in the event of a bombing, shooting or other disaster. The government reportedly started developing the app after the 2015 Paris terror attacks and just released it for the start of the European Championship soccer tournament on June 10.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published its June Bulletin, which, among other things, called attention to the likelihood that Zika is linked to a long list of birth abnormalities, and not only to microcephaly, as has been widely reported. While the expanded list of defects and abnormalities are all separate, and not related to microcephaly, the WHO believes that the cause is the same — Zika virus passes from mother to fetus and then attacks the brain cells of the unborn child while in utero.
- Zika virus is heading north toward the continental U.S., but it has already been in Puerto Rico for some time. More than 1,350 people have tested positive for Zika in Puerto Rico since the virus started to become an epidemic, including 168 pregnant women. Health officials say that its likely thousands more have the virus already but don't know yet, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now estimates that 25 percent of the island's population -- or nearly 900,000 people -- will be infected by the end of 2016.
- Tropical Storm Colin was downgraded to a depression as it traveled out to sea in a general northeast direction. All told, Colin left minimal damage, across the East Coast. There is likely more to come, though, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that 10 to 16 named storms will occur this hurricane season. A named storm must have sustained winds of 39 mph or above.
- The House Homeland Security Committee advanced a bill yesterday that aims to restructure Department of Homeland Security (DHS) protection of critical infrastructure from digital threats. The new bill would act as a replacement for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), as a new operational agency would be tasked with essential cyber security for networks that operate the U.S. power grid, water utilities and more.
- A shooting terror attack in in Tel Aviv, Israel yesterday evening left at least four dead and three more badly injured. Israeli police said that two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in Tel Aviv’s popular Sarona Market. The gunmen were reportedly posing as restaurant patrons before opening fire on civilians. The attack is reigniting fears of terrorism in Israel.
- A series of air strikes on rebel-held areas in Aleppo, Syria reportedly hit three medical facilities over a three-hour span. At least 15 people are reported to have been killed and dozens wounded in the attacks. Medics said that only a small number of hospitals are still functional in the region that serves approximately 350,000 after this latest wave of military action.
- A powerful storm in New Jersey yesterday knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents across the state. The storm prompted thunderstorm warnings as it slammed South Jersey in the late morning and into the early afternoon. Wind gusts reached as high as 72 mph during the short-lived but powerful storm.
- Racine County in Wisconsin is in a state of emergency due to eroding lake bluff that is threatening destroy homes. Erosion has become so problematic in the region that some people's backyards are literally disappearing. The situation brings to mind the severe erosion problems in Pacifica, CA that threatens to send parts of the town to sea.
— NJOEM (@ReadyNJ) June 8, 2016