EDM Wednesday Briefing: California Wildfires, Another Police Shooting, River Study, Charlotte, Typhoon Megi
Emergency and disaster management briefing for September 28, 2016: A new wildfire in the Santa Cruz mountains of California prompts evacuations and destroys homes, drought and an autumnal heat wave contribute to the high risk of wildland fires across CA, an officer-involved shooting in El Cajon, CA results in one man's death, WHO announces measles has been eliminated in the Americas, a new study reveals plastic contamination in rivers that feed the Great Lakes, flooding is likely to prompt lock closures on Mississippi river, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters evacuate due to a suspicious package, and Typhoon Megi kills 4 in Taiwan before making landfall in China.
- Hundreds of people are being evacuated as the Loma fire in Santa Clara County, CA spreads rapidly in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The fire started Monday, and due to the excessive heat and dry conditions, quickly engulfed over three square miles. More than 800 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has destroyed one home and another six structures. According to officials, the fire is only ten percent contained and is threatening 300 additional structures. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
- Dangerous heat coupled with the ongoing drought conditions and the start of the Santa Ana winds in California are causing significant fire threats, resulting in widespread Red Flag Warnings being issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). The autumn heat wave has caused temperatures around the state to hit the high nineties, and in some locations, triple digits. The NWS is warning that low humidity, high heat, and very dry fuels are a potentially disastrous combination should a fire start.
- An officer-involved shooting occurred in El Cajon, CA on Tuesday afternoon, prompting questions and resulting in a large crowd gathering in the region. Police were responding to a call regarding a 30-year-old individual who was walking erratically in traffic. A video given to police by an eye witness shows the suspect did not have his arms up. According to the police chief, who promises a thorough investigation of the incident, one officer used a taser while another fired shots that ultimately resulted in the African-American's death.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the highly contagious measles virus has been eliminated in the Americas. Although the disease has been eliminated from Canada to Chile, it still exits elsewhere in the world, so imported cases are still possible. The measles virus is spread through direct contact with nose, mouth, and throat secretions of infected individuals, or through the air, and can cause encephalitis, pneumonia, or blindness, and death.
- Plastic contamination in oceans and fresh water has been a growing concern in recent years. A new study exploring micro plastics in rivers examined samples taken from various rivers and tributaries that feed into the Great Lakes. Under a variety of conditions, including hydrologic, land cover, the contribution of wastewater effluence, and population densities, scientists sampled river sources at least three or four times each in a total of six states. Plastic particles were present, in varying amounts, every time and in every one of the 107 samples collected.
- As flooding impacts the Midwest, and especially Iowa, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers warned that the closure of three locks on the Mississippi River is likely later in the week. The lock closures could last for several days, impacting barge shipments carrying grain. The three locks that are cited to be closed based on National Weather Service forecasts are lock 17, 18, and 20, completely halting grain shipping between Iowa and Northern Missouri.
- The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after a suspicious package was found inside the building. The package was about the size of shoe box, and was removed by a robot and placed into a special transport capsule for further evaluation at a remote location. 9-1-1 calls had to be rerouted, and officials closed streets in the vicinity of the police department and suspended service on a streetcar line nearby until the package was safely removed.
- Typhoon Megi slammed into Taiwan on Tuesday, killing 4 and injuring at least 260 others before taking aim at China, where it made landfall early Wednesday. When the storm made landfall in Taiwan, it was about 310 miles in diameter and packed 100 mph winds, dropping at least 12 inches of rain in regions prone to flooding and landslides. Officials evacuated over 8,000 people at risk of flooding or landslides, with about 2,800 going to area shelters. Typhoon Megi is the fourth typhoon to hit Taiwan this year.
- Two bomb attacks occurred in Dresden, Germany late Monday, one at a mosque and the other at a conference center. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks that occurred just a week ahead of German Unity Day Celebrations, which commemorate the reunification of East and West Germany. This year marks the 26th year of the nation's reunification and part of the celebration was to take place at the International Congress Center, where one of the bombs detonated.
- Strong storms impacted south Australia on Wednesday, with lightning and high winds toppling multiple transmission towers, resulting in a state-wide black out at about 3:45 p.m. local time, affecting more than 1.6 million people as the system shut itself down as a precaution. The automatic shut-down was triggered to prevent negative impacts from rippling through to the rest of the nation, such as by overloading the system and resulting in more outages. Officials noted that back-up generators were powering the state 's public hospitals and urged anyone with medical conditions requiring electricity to run equipment to report to their nearest hospital.
— Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) September 28, 2016