EDM Wednesday Briefing: Dakota Access Pipeline, Bomb Threats, West Coast Winter Weather
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 1, 2017: Permit to be approved for completion of Dakota Access Pipeline, bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers prompt evacuations and fears, another round of winter storms poised to inundate the West Coast with rain and heavy snow, flu levels have reached epidemic levels across the nation, German police arrest Tunisian man suspected of planning a terror attack, a late January tornado outbreak in the southeast is one for the record books, Port Everglades receives green light for upgrades and improvements, and Washington State reports a mumps outbreak.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been directed by the Acting Secretary of the Army to issue an easement for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline which will move construction forward after recent delays and protests. In December, after months of protests by water conservationists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, a permit to cross the Missouri River under Lake Oahe. The Tribe, who sees the pipeline as a threat to its water supply and cultural heritage sites, has vowed to fight the easement in court.
- A bomb threat directed at a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tuesday prompted a building-wide evacuation and investigation by the bomb squad. It was not the only Jewish Community Center targeted, a total of 14 bomb threats were called into centers across the United States and Canada. All of the threats were false alarms. This is the second time bomb threats have been called in to multiple JCCs across the nation in just two weeks - with 28 JCCs in the United States receiving bomb threats on January 18.
- A weather weary West Coast braces for yet another round of winter storms intent on dumping more rain in California and heavy snowfalls in the Sierra Nevada's. A Pacific low-pressure system that is well-defined will move onto the west coast Wednesday bringing rain, snow, and freezing rain. The system will also impact a large portion of the State of Oregon, including Portland, Eugene, and Salem in the Willamette Valley, along with eastern portions of Oregon, into Idaho.
- The flu has reached epidemic levels in 37 states according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There has also been an increase in the number of deaths from the current flu strain, the same one that has circulated the last two years. In Pennsylvania, 33 deaths from the flu have been recorded so far this season, which runs from October 2 to May 20. Most at risk are those under the age of 5, adults who are 65 and older, and anyone with respiratory and heart problems. Frequent hand washing with soap is the most effective way to prevent spreading the flu.
- On Tuesday night, German police arrested a Tunisian man in Frankfurt that is suspected of planning an attack and being a recruiter for ISIS/The Islamic State. He is also suspected of being involved in the deadly attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March of 2015. The raid was carried out by over 1,100 police officers and included businesses, apartments, and mosques throughout Frankfurt and its surrounding region. The man, who was not identified, was one of a total of four individuals arrested Tuesday night by police in Germany. The other three suspects, associated with a mosque known to be a gathering place for radicals - the Fussilet mosque in Berlin - were also arrested after prosecutors learned they planned to travel to Iraq or Syria for training with the Islamic State for weapons and explosives.
- A tornado outbreak that impacted Georgia in late January 2017 included a total of 40 tornadoes and was one of the largest on record for both the winter months and January. Tornadoes that ravaged the state over the period of January 21-23 included an EF3 tornado that devastated areas of Albany, Georgia. The unprecedented tornado lasted an hour and 12 minutes and cut a path that was almost 71 miles long, a rare occurrence according to historical record keeping. In total, during the two day period, a total of 77 tornadoes occurred across eight states, from Texas to South Carolina and Florida.
- In December of 2016, as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was given the green light to move forward with the expansion and improvements at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The authorization allows for the deepening and widening of the Port's navigation channels in order to accommodate the taller and wider container ships now in use, known as Post-Panamax ships. The project is expected to create almost 1,500 permanent jobs as a result of the increased cargo capacity at the port, while another approximate 2,200 jobs will be added during the construction phase.
- Officials in Washington State have confirmed that the number of mumps cases across the state have reached nearly 300, including 90 reported cases in Spokane. A total of five counties are included in the outbreak: King, Pierce, Snohomoish, Spokane, and Yakima counties, with mainly school children affected. The Washington State Department of Health is urging residents to take precautions by avoiding contact with those individuals suspected of having the mumps, and to get vaccinated against the disease if they have not already done so. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination is 88% effective.
— Nicole Perez (@pereznmp) January 31, 2017
— Ryan McNamara, PhD (@Ryan_Mac_Phd) January 20, 2017
— NWS Atlanta (@NWSAtlanta) January 31, 2017