Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: US Army Corps Raised Mojave River Dam Risk
EDM Wednesday Briefing: US Army Corps Raised Mojave River Dam Risk

EDM Wednesday Briefing: US Army Corps Raised Mojave River Dam Risk

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 6, 2019: Steep terrain and significant fire behavior challenge firefighters battling the Ranch Fire; Sonoma County supervisors are seeking a half-cent tax to increase firefighting and preparedness efforts; the Army Corps of Engineers raised the Mojave River Dam risk assessment to high urgency; power redundancy is key for critical infrastructure agencies -- especially water utilities -- in the face of PSPS; a school district in Jefferson County, Missouri, is experiencing an outbreak of whooping cough; a detective in Ohio is in grave condition after being shot twice in the face; over 140 vegetable products have been recalled due to possible listeria monocytogenes contamination; and the cleanup of homeless encampments to prevent future wildfire or flooding disasters is underway in the San Fernando Valley.

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1) The majority of wildfires are under control or fully contained in California with the exception of the Ranch Fire, burning in Tehama County. The wildfire, which began Sunday just south of Red Bluff, forced evacuations that are still in effect. The blaze rapidly expanded by Tuesday evening to more than 3,760 acres, and although 1,000 personnel have been assigned to the fire, it remains only 15 percent contained. According to CalFire, steep terrain and significant fire behavior continue to challenge firefighters, with forecast dry and warm conditions continuing to influence fire behavior.

2) Catastrophic wildfires have impacted residents of Sonoma County frequently in the past several years, and community leaders are looking to ensure increased preparedness going forward. The county supervisors are seeking a half-cent tax increase to generate $51 million that would be split between the county's 30 fire districts. The funding would be used for firefighting, increased fire prevention efforts, and emergency warning initiatives, all of which would help to mitigate the effects of catastrophic wildfires.

3) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of major dams across the United States, conducted a risk assessment and recently changed the classification of the Mojave River Dam in California from low to high urgency of action. The change significantly impacts communities close to and downstream from the river; in an extreme weather event, the near 50-year-old dam would likely overtop and breach, placing 16,000 residents in high danger. According to reports, dam officials will be engaging in increased emergency preparedness efforts with at-risk communities, including the assembly of an emergency kit, signing up for phone alerts, and the formulation of evacuation plans.

4) Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) in California affect residents and businesses, but also have secondary and unintended consequences, including putting lives at risk, the loss of water access, and sewer issues. Agencies that provide critical infrastructure, such as water utilities, are being challenged to ensure they are able to continue supplying water to firefighters fighting wildfires -- and to residents -- amid PSPS. A redundancy of backup power is necessary, including generators and fuel or diesel to operate those generators. However, the costs add up and currently, the question remains as to who will ultimately cover those high costs.

5) A school district in Jefferson County, Missouri, is currently experiencing an outbreak of Pertussis, or whooping cough. The Festus High School and Intermediate School have 15 students who have tested positive for the serious bacterial illness, with another 22 waiting for results. Symptoms of the highly contagious disease include coughing, runny nose, sneezing and possibly a fever. A vaccination (DTaP), which is required for all children, is available to help protect against the disease.

6) A detective in Ohio is reportedly on life support and in grave condition after being shot in the face twice while attempting to serve a drug-related warrant. A thirty-year veteran of the force, Dayton police detective Jorge DelRio was working with a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force when the incident occurred. Four adults and one juvenile were "secured" at the scene; task force members found fentanyl, marijuana, three weapons, and a significant amount of cash at the scene.

7) A recall of more than 100 vegetable products has been issued by the Mann Packaging Co. for potential contamination of listeria monocytogenes. The products were distributed to select food service suppliers and retailers in the United States and Canada, and were sold under multiple brand names, including, Mann's, Del Monte, HEB, US Foods, Marketside, Signature Farms, Sysco, and Trader Joe's. Consumers are being warned to discard any products that have "Best if Used by" dates of October 11, 2019 to November 16, 2019.

8) After recent wildfires ravaged Southern California, officials shifted their focused to homeless encampments in high-risk areas to prevent future disasters from wildfires or flooding. Thirteen acres in the San Fernando Valley -- known as the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve -- were the focus of municipal cleanup crews on Monday, an effort that is expected to last three or four days. The first of multiple planned cleanup efforts, it involved dismantling encampments, offering shelter services, and removing garbage in an effort to prevent the start of fires and to protect the homeless from winter floods.

 

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.