Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Toxic Algae Bloom Closes Beaches Along the Gulf
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Toxic Algae Bloom Closes Beaches Along the Gulf

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Toxic Algae Bloom Closes Beaches Along the Gulf


Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 10, 2019: A toxic algae bloom has closed beaches from Mississippi to Louisiana; fire suppression efforts for the Swan Lake Fire in Alaska are focused on protecting homes, buildings, and infrastructure; trends and warning signs for mass attacks are highlighted in a new report released by the Secret Service; the Shovel Creek Fire remains active amid high temperatures and dry fuels; President Trump declared an emergency for Southern California following two strong earthquakes; Japan is still under a landslide threat after nearly 40 inches of rain inundate some areas of Kyushu; Ohio farmers are waiting on a disaster declaration approval to help recoup losses from recent heavy rains that flooded fields; and air quality levels plummet in Fairbanks as thick, heavy smoke from twin wildfires drifts into the area.

1. A toxic algae bloom is keeping beaches closed along the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi to Lake Ponchartrain. Mississippi environmental officials are warning people to avoid contact with the water along 25 beaches--and locations in Louisiana--after recent Midwest floodwaters have inundated the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in conditions favorable for an algae bloom. The toxic-blue-green-algae can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, affect the liver and nervous system and pets, so avoiding contact with contaminated water is urged.

2. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported that 41 wildfires have burned a total of more than 810,000 acres so far this year in Alaska. Currently, according to Inciweb, the Swan Lake Fire is burning in the Kenai-Kodiak area, and has scorched 100,027 acres and is only 24 percent contained. The fire began on June 5th as a result of lightning, and fire suppression efforts are focused on protecting homes, research centers, natural gas pipelines, and other structures in and around Sterling and Cooper Landing.

3. In a new report that identifies trends and warning signs of mass attacks, the Secret Service identified 27 attacks across 18 states where 91 people were killed and 107 injured in mass attacks in 2018. The report noted that nearly all the attackers made some type of threatening or concerning communication prior to the attack, nearly a third had histories related to domestic violence, and all but two of the attacks were committed by men. One additional trend was noted among attackers--two-thirds of the attackers had a history of mental health issues, including depression or suicidal behavior.


4. The Shovel Creek Fire burning near Fairbanks, Alaska remains active, with only about 15 percent containment, as air quality becomes an issue in nearby Fairbanks. The blaze has scorched more than 18,850 acres, amid high temperatures and dry fuels. The wildfire is being fought by 852 personnel, and firefighters are being supported by water-scooping aircraft and air retardant tankers, under the command of a Type II Incident Management Team.

5. Following two strong earthquakes in Southern California, President Trump declared an emergency for California, paving the way for federal assistance, as the area struggles to restore infrastructure and services disrupted by the quake. Water service to the city of Trona is still disrupted, and a Naval base nearby Ridgecrest, where many military personnel live, has remained closed to nonessential personnel as damage assessments are conducted.  The Naval Air Weapons Station Lake China sustained damaged to several buildings, including a chapel and school, and only about 10 percent of the 1,200 facilities had been inspected by engineers as of Tuesday.

6. Heavy rains dropped more than 39.4 inches of rain in some locations on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, Japan, and officials are keeping evacuation orders in place as the threat of landslides continues. Two people have already been killed by landslides resulting from the heavy rainfall, and officials warn the risk is not over. The total rainfall received so far is more than double the average rainfall for July for the area.

7. Months of heavy rainfall in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, has left farmer's fields completely saturated or still covered by water, preventing the planting of crops. Ohio saw five months of rain--its wettest 12 months in over a century, preventing farmers from planting crops that should have been in the ground by mid-June. A disaster declaration provided federal funding from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for Midwest farmers following epic flooding, and Ohio is waiting to hear if its disaster request—submitted in June—will be approved.

8. Central Alaska wildfires that have been burning since June have covered the area in a thick haze of smoke, prompting air quality levels to plummet. Fairbanks, a subarctic city in Alaska, has seen some of the world's worst air pollution in recent days, prompting one hospital to set up a clean-air shelter. Air quality levels for the area were double the minimum level deemed hazardous to human health, and officials are urging residents to use extreme caution when venturing outdoors.


Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.