EDM Tuesday Briefing: Water Shortages Rise Globally, Air Strikes Continue in Syria, Severe Winter Storms Linger
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 16, 2016: Research indicates that severe water shortages may be more prevalent across the world than originally thought, air strikes hit Syria just days after an agreed upon "cessation of hostilities," and winter weather advisories continue on the East Coast.
- According to recent research at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, nearly two-thirds of the world faces severe water shortages at least one month out of every year. The estimates, which were derived using a new computer model, are far higher than what was previously thought.
- Previous estimates placed between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people in the range of extreme water shortages, but these new estimates push that number up to more than 4 billion. An estimated half of the projected four-plus billion people who experience these conditions of severe water scarcity live in either China or India.
- Air strikes in Syria killed at least 50 civilians, as both schools and hospitals were targeted. The bombings, which hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in rebel-held areas of Syria, come just days after world powers agreed on a cessation of hostilities in Syria. Turkey is accusing Russia of being behind this latest wave of air attacks, and both France and Turkey have said that the air strikes constitute war crimes.
- Forecasts have Winter Storm Olympia continuing to spread snow and ice on the East Coast through today. The sweeping winter storm has factored into multiple accidents in multiple states -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Severe weather had 17 states under winter weather advisories as of late last night.
- Now that the massive natural gas leak north of Los Angeles, CA has reportedly been capped, displaced residents are asking for assurances before moving back home. Porter Ranch-area residents are calling for cameras, tests and other safety measures to ensure that it is safe to return and also to help prevent a possible repeat of the disaster in the future.
- A new law in Illinois will drastically reduce the number emergency dispatch centers in parts of the state. A new state mandate specifies that Illinois counties with at least 250,000 residents must reduce the number of public safety answering points, or PSAPs, by half by July 2017. The purpose behind the new law, Governor Bruce Rauner’s office said, it to consolidate services for more efficient and better use taxpayer dollars.
- There are currently four confirmed cases of Zika virus in American Somoa, including one pregnant woman. In addition, there are up to 200 more suspected cases of Zika in the U.S. territory, which has a total population of only approximately 54,000. The territory's acting governor declared a Zika epidemic, which means that its anti-Zika efforts will be guided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Residents in Lake County, CA still face a long road to recovery after a September 2015 wildfire in the region caused a reported $700 million in insured damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has, so far, approved more than $6.7 million is aid to residents and reimbursed the state more than $43 million to help cleanup efforts. But officials are still sorting through the aftermath of the devastation in one of the poorest counties in the state.
- Ukraine officials just concluded a two-month investigation, which found that Russia fingerprints are all over the December cyber attack that hit Ukraine's power grid and wiped out power to thousands of Ukrainian residents. The investigation revealed that the attack utilized a Russian-based Internet provider and hackers also made phone calls from inside Russia.
- The computer system at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California has been offline for more than a week after hackers gained control of the hospital's network. Some patients have been moved to other hospitals because of the incident. The hospital is working with both the Los Angeles Police Depart and the FBI as the hackers are demanding more than $3.6 million to decrypt the system and return network access to the hospital.