Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Flooding Devastates Midwest States
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Flooding Devastates Midwest States

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Flooding Devastates Midwest States


Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 20, 2019: A petrochemical fire burning in Houston has finally been extinguished; authorities in New Zealand state that the mosque shooting suspect had a third target; a Kittitas County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed in the line of duty and another officer was injured; authorities say a five-year-old girl is presumed dead after falling into the swift moving Stanislaus River; the NWS says flooding is likely to continue into next week in the Midwest; the death toll continues to climb in Mozambique amid devastation from Cyclone Idai; data released from the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air crash reveals a struggle to control the airplane as pilots frantically sought a fix; and one of the world's largest producers of aluminum products, Norsk Hydro, was hit with a ransomware cyber attack late Monday.

1) A petrochemical fire in Houston that has been burning since Sunday was finally extinguished early Wednesday morning, but firefighters continue to spray water and foam on the tanks to prevent the fire from restarting. The fire allegedly began due to a leaking tank of volatile naphtha -- a fuel used in the production of gasoline -- that ignited and then spread to other tanks. Twelve of the 15 tanks at the Mitsui & Co. storage site along the Houston Ship Channel were on fire by Tuesday, but there were no reported injuries from the fire.

2) Authorities in New Zealand have stated that the suspect behind the mosque attacks in Christchurch was on his way to a third target when he was apprehended by police. The police commissioner also noted that authorities went to the third destination -- the site of which has not yet been revealed -- to check for explosive devices. Law enforcement officials also noted that officers arrived on the scene within 6 minutes and had the suspect, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, in custody within 21 minutes, preventing the further loss of lives.

3) One sheriff's deputy was killed and a police officer was shot after a vehicle chase ended and the suspect opened fire on pursuing officers. The incident occurred in Kittitas County, Washington, and began when officers attempted to stop a vehicle in response to a driving complaint, but the suspect refused to stop. The pursuit ended when the vehicle came to a stop at the end of a street. The suspect got out of the vehicle and opened fire on the officers, killing the Kittitas County Sheriff's deputy and injuring a Kittitas police officer.

4) A five-year-old girl is now presumed dead after she slipped off rocks and fell into the Stanislaus River in Northern California three days ago. The search for the missing child has been scaled back to just one boat from the fire department and deputies looking along the shoreline. The child, who is autistic, fell into the river Sunday night in Knights Ferry. According to the sheriff's department, they are using drones, underwater cameras and boats to locate the child.

5) Flooding continues in the Midwest and the National Weather Service (NWS) has indicated that it is likely to continue into next week, with multiple communities affected by floodwaters from the Platte, Elkhorn, and Missouri Rivers. The flooding has also stranded livestock and resulted in the rescue of 189 people in Waterloo, Nebraska alone, along with 87 dogs, 25 horses, eight cats, and other animals. The flooding has killed four people, devastated crops, including grain and soybean, impacted calving season in the region, and caused road and rail damage that cut off access to farms. Damages are estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

6) It is estimated that over 200 people were killed in Mozambique from Cyclone Idai when it slammed into the port city of Beira last Thursday, although search and rescue teams are still uncovering bodies. The cyclone moved into Zimbabwe and Malawi, causing widespread flooding that has killed at least 98 people in Zimbabwe and dumped heavy rainfall across Malawi. Power was cut and roads were damaged throughout the region, making it difficult for aid groups and search and rescue teams to reach those trapped in remote areas and who are without the basic life needs of food, water, and shelter.

7) Data from the cockpit voice recorder allegedly indicates that the pilots on the doomed Lion Air crash last October struggled to control the airplane as they frantically searched for a fix to stop the aircraft from pitching its nose downward. Two minutes after take off, the pilots on Lion Air Flight JT610 reported a flight control problem to air traffic controllers and attempted to maintain their altitude of 5,000 feet. According to reports, airspeed and an indicator problem were both mentioned by the pilots. The captain and first officer sought to find a solution to the issue for at least nine minutes before the plane dove nose first into the Indian Ocean, killing all 189 people on board.

8) One of the world's leading producers of aluminum, Norsk Hydro, was hit with a ransomware cyber ware attack late Monday. Hydro noted that the attack forced the company to shut several plants that transform aluminum ingots into components for automakers, builders, and other industries and smelters were being operated on a manual basis. The state agency in charge of cybersecurity – the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) – noted that the attack used on Hydro is known as LockerGoga, which requires payment to unlock the encrypted computer files.


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.