Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Winter Storm Causes Travel Woes in the North

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Winter Storm Causes Travel Woes in the North


Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 20, 2019: A winter storm is dumping snow, ice, sleet, and rain and disrupting air travel in states east of the Mississippi; Kern County, California uses Smart911 technology to help inform and protect first responders; KFC is under scrutiny in Mongolia following at least 247 patrons that became ill after eating at a restaurant in Ulaannbaatar; a mudslide in Oahu closes a busy highway and sends three to the hospital; the FDA announces the recall of about 223 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad products; Italian officials will not allow the Ciampino airport to reopen following a fire they believe was deliberately set; four people have been rescued after an avalanche at a busy ski resort in Switzerland; and heavy rainfall is wreaking havoc across the south as states contend with uprooted trees, downed power lines, flooded roadways, and school cancellations.

  1. A winter storm that is blanketing many states east of the Mississippi with snow on Wednesday, will head into the Northeast late Wednesday into early Thursday. The storm has already disrupted air travel, with at least 1,6000 flights cancelled, and another 1,200 flights delayed, as airlines issue travel vouchers and waive change fees due to the winter weather. The storm is dumping snow, followed in some areas by a wintry mix of snow, ice, and sleet, with a possible transition to rain during the overnight hours in some locations, such as Washington, D.C.  
  2. Kern County, California has partnered with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services to implement a new tool for its first responders that will provide additional information on individuals to better prepare law enforcement, fire, and EMS, for a call. Safety Fields have been added to the relatively new Smart911 technology currently in use, and provides critical information on a subject's mental health, addiction, regular medications, health conditions, and other issues through its enhanced profiles. The goal in providing the information is to equip officers and other first responders to keep them--and the public--safe during their encounters with vulnerable or troubled members of the public, including those with mental health issues.  
  3. People dining at a KFC in Mongolia reported diarrhea and vomiting after eating at the restaurant in Zaisan outlet, in Ulaanbaatar, which local health authorities believe is related to E. coli. Serious health violations were found in the restaurant in Ulaanbaatar, including bacteria that was reportedly found in the drinking water, and E. coli in the soda, and the restaurant remained closed as health officials conducted a thorough investigation. Health authorities also stated that at least 247 people who ate at the restaurant were sickened, with 42 of those individuals requiring hospitalization, while all KFC restaurants have been shut down temporarily as vigorous inspections are completed.  
  4. A major landslide covered portions of a highway on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu on Tuesday and sent three people to the hospital, forcing the closure of the busy Pali Highway until at least Monday. Transportation officials said the highway was damaged during the landslide and needs repair, while the slope above the highway remains unstable, with several large boulders-some the size of vehicles--at risk of breaking loose. On Monday, several smaller landslides occurred that partially affected the highway, which connects the east side of island to Honolulu through a steep mountain pass, causing temporary lane closures.  
  5. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday that approximately 223 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad products have been recalled because the salad may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Lean Culinary Services, LLC, a company based in Hollywood, Florida, is recalling four products due to possible contamination, including two DeliverLean products--the Classic Chicken Salad, and the Chicken Salad Bento Box, along with its 14.9 ounce and 8 pound plastic tubs of classic chicken salad made with Bell & Evans White Meat Chicken, the larger one of which is for use behind the deli-counter. The product tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes on February 18, which prompted the recall, although there have been no reports of any illnesses associated with the allegedly contaminated food.  
  6. A small fire in the terminal basement, believed to have been set deliberately, has disrupted travel in Italy at Rome's Ciampino airport, which is used primarily by budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air. Airport officials noted that the fire, which began Tuesday morning, was quickly extinguished, but that the civil aviation authority and local health officials refused to allow the terminal to reopen even on Wednesday. An unknown number of flights were cancelled on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, although arrivals were not affected, outbound flights were departing from the larger, Fuimicino airport.  
  7. A major avalanche at a busy ski resort in Switzerland on Tuesday, that buried at least four people in the snow, may have been set off by warming temperatures, although the avalanche threat level for the day was only at a two out of five. Rescuers quickly arrived to the area following the avalanche, and pulled four people, one with significant injuries, out from the highly compacted snow at the Crans-Montana resort in southern Valais. A total of 12 dogs, eight helicopters, and over 240 police, rescuers, and soldiers worked diligently to find anyone else that might have been buried beneath the snow before nightfall.  
  8. Heavy rainfall is wreaking havoc in areas across the southern United States, including the northern parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, along with most of Tennessee, which are under flood watches or warnings. The heavy rains, which are soaking already saturated grounds, have uprooted trees, downed power lines, flooded roadways, and forced the delay or cancellation of schools in some areas, with as much as 8 inches of rain possible in some locations Wednesday through Saturday. Strong storms moving through the area on Tuesday also forced a Delta flight, traveling from Milwaukee to Atlanta, to make an emergency landing in Chattanooga when its left engine failed after being struck by lighting.  

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.