Emergency and Disaster Management Week In Review February 22, 2016: The battle between Apple and the FBI heats up, as severe weather systems slam the South, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, while Kalamazoo, Michigan and Hesston, Kansas search for answers after rampage shootings, and Fiji begins the long road of recovery.
Apple vs. the FBI
The battle between Apple and the FBI continues, as both Google and Facebook are reportedly backing Apple's position. The iPhone at the center of the current legal clash is not the only cell phone currently in question, either, as the FBI has reportedly requested the unlocking of at least a dozen devices in recent months. Public opinion is split in the ongoing battle of privacy vs. national security between Apple and the FBI. Which side the public supports in the debate depends on which poll is being referenced. Bill Gates even disputed a report that he backs the FBI, and made efforts to clarify his view. Apple is also reportedly developing new, more advanced security measures that would make it even more difficult for authorities to break into locked iPhones.
A severe weather system turned deadly late Tuesday when almost two dozen tornadoes ripped through areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. That same system moved toward the Mid-Atlantic, where violent thunderstorms and tornadoes hit various regions on Wednesday, resulting in at least five deaths. In the Midwest, powerful winter storms brought heavy snow and strong winds across large parts of the area on Thursday. More than 1,100 flights were canceled at Chicago airports alone.
Kalamazoo, MI Gunman
A gunman in Kalamazoo, Michigan killed at least 6 people and injured at least two more Saturday night, in a rampage that reportedly involved the shooter, an Uber driver, targeting victims seemingly at random. Police have yet to identify a motive in the Kalamazoo rampage, as it is unclear what may have precipitated the series of shootings. The suspect, Jason Brian Dalton, made 'incriminating statements' to authorities but has not confessed to the crimes.
Hesston, KS Shootings
Hesston, Kansas was the site of the most recent shooting where a gunman killed three and wounded 14 more after opening fire inside of a manufacturing plant with an assault-style long gun. The suspected gunman, Cedric Ford, reportedly worked at the plant, but no motive is known at this time. Police killed the suspect once he turned his fire on officers.
Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji this past weekend, leaving at least 10 people dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. The Category 5 storm, which made landfall in Fiji on Saturday, is being called the most powerful storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, Winston ranks among the strongest-ever tropical cyclones to strike land anywhere in the world. In Fiji, a month-long state of disaster has been declared and schools will be closed for a week. Aid agencies reached the outer islands and villages of Fiji on Friday, days after the historic cyclone ravaged the archipelago.