Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Train Collision, Phoenix Serial Shooter, Heat Waves, Typhoon Nepartak, Colorado Wildfires

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Train Collision, Phoenix Serial Shooter, Heat Waves, Typhoon Nepartak, Colorado Wildfires

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 13, 2016: A high-speed train collision in Italy, a 911 call center is under investigation, Phoenix police tie additional incidents to a serial shooter or shooters, a 2003 European heat wave is linked to human-induced climate change, and Super Typhoon Nepartak causes death and damage.

  1. A head-on collision of two high-speed trains in the Puglia, Italy region, between the towns of Andria and Corato, on Tuesday resulted in approximately 27 dead and 50 people injured. A young boy was recovered alive from among the wreckage and airlifted by helicopter to a local hospital, where he is listed in good condition. An urgent request was made by officials for the public to donate blood. Each of the trains had four carriages and was traveling at high speeds when the crash occurred. The Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, has committed to a thorough investigation of the crash that is being speculated as being caused by human error.
  2. A 911 call center in Fredericksburg, VA is under investigation after failing to send out assistance to what it considered an accidental call to the center. Robert Paulus called 911 in April, but the 18-second call, where a dispatcher tried three times to make contact with Paulus, was deemed a pocket call due to unidentifiable sounds. He was found dead in his apartment several hours later from heart disease. Current policies at the Fredericksburg City Dispatch center do not require callbacks for any call labeled a pocket call. 911 call centers are not centralized in Virginia, and had the call occurred in Fairfax County, the dispatcher would have called back. The Fredericksburg police are currently investigating the incident, which has been labeled by the police spokesperson Sarah Kirkpatrick as an oversight.
  3. Phoenix police have tied a seventh shooting to what they now believe is a serial shooter who has shot and killed six other victims over recent months. Police began investigating all incidents that might possibly be related since January 1, 2016. When reviewing these cases, authorities found a link to the death of Krystal Annette White, 55, who died in April. The police added a total of four additional incidents to the list, bringing the total number to eight incidents that are linked to the serial shooter or shooters. Of these, there were seven fatalities and three non-fatal shootings. The Phoenix Police Department is asking people to increase their awareness and to come forth with any information regarding the incidents. The department has posted a composite sketch of the shooter on Facebook.
  4. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a report that places the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire as the costliest insured natural disaster in Canadian history. Current estimates of insured losses have exceeded $3.58 billion dollars, more than double the $1.7 billion from the southern Alberta flood in 2013. The wildfire began on May 1, 2016 southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta and spread to nearly 1,500,000 acres before officials declared it under control just last week -- July 5, 2016.
  5. Scientists from the University of Oxford have linked a large number of deaths from the 2003 heat wave in Europe to climate change. Researchers discovered that 506 of 735 heat-related deaths in Paris and 64 of 315 heat-related deaths in London were due to the influence of man-made climate change. While the study focused on Paris and London, researchers noted that many other cities across Europe were also impacted by the 2003 heat wave which caused widespread negative impacts to human health.
  6. The ability to adapt to climate change is important to a nation's infrastructure. A recent study by the World Bank indicated that increasing economic losses are synonymous with climate change impacts, and low to middle income nations often struggle to rebuild following natural disasters. Because infrastructure investments require high dollar investments and are required to last for extended periods - often 50 years or more - it is important for developing nations to incorporate climate change adaptation into their infrastructure planning. The World Bank report analyzed the feasibility of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in building infrastructure resilience, noting that the incentives differ for public versus private sectors. The report determined that planning must incorporate a variety of strategic solutions, both through scenario planning and innovative ideas and technology that allow for greater flexibility and address climate change risks.
  7. Super Typhoon Nepartak hit Taiwan on Friday, killing three people and injuring around 300, then set it sights on mainland China, where it left 10 people dead, and 11 that are still missing. The storm caused an estimated direct economic loss of about USD$330 million to the nation, cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents on the Fujian province, closed five airports, and canceled hundreds of high-speed trains. Although the storm had weakened by the time in hit the Fujian province, the damage was still extensive. Pictures depict buildings that were torn apart, cars on top of each other, and towns that were full of a thick, brown mud and mounds of debris.
  8. Wildfires are still burning out of control in Colorado. The Cold Spring Fire has destroyed eight homes, and is currently burning over 525 acres, and has resulted in the evacuation of around 2,000 people. Two men connected to the fire have been arrested and charged with felony arson. The Beaver Creek Fire is being estimated at 19,500 acres, and is still moving north into Wyoming. Hotter, drier conditions including low humidity and strong winds, have returned to the area and are being blamed for increased fire activity. Officials are estimating the containment date for the fire to be October 21.
  9. The Hayden Pass Fire has resulted in the evacuation of a children's summer camp, the first threat to any property, according to the Sheriff's office. The children from Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp are being transported by buses to the Custer County School in Westcliffe. The fire has grown to more than 12,000 acres and fire officials report it has zero containment. The fire is moving toward Coaldale, with its estimated arrival occurring sometime Wednesday. So far, no structures have been lost to the fire which is believed to have been started by a lightning strike.
  10. The toxic Florida algae bloom can be seen from space because it has grown so large. A NASA satellite captured a picture of the bloom in Lake Okeechobee in early July, depicting the spreading algae. Lake Okeechobee waters drain into coastal areas, and until recently, have continued being released by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. A state of emergency was declared last week by Florida Governor, Rick Scott in order to reduce damages to coastal communities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now reduced the flow of contaminated water from the lake in hopes to prevent further coastal and Atlantic Ocean water impacts. Visitors and residents, along with their pets, are cautioned against swimming in the algae laden water as it can be harmful if ingested.

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.