Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Houston Ship Channel Reopens to Two-Way Traffic after Weekend Vessel Collision
EDM Friday Briefing: Houston Ship Channel Reopens to Two-Way Traffic after Weekend Vessel Collision

EDM Friday Briefing: Houston Ship Channel Reopens to Two-Way Traffic after Weekend Vessel Collision


Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 17, 2018: The Houston Ship Channel finally reopened in both directions following a vessel collision over the weekend; a helicopter plummeted from the sky and crashed into the Hudson River; the two teenagers who opened fire at a STEM school in Colorado were formally charged on Wednesday; firefighters were called to rescue workers from an out-of-control window washing basket that was swinging wildly in high winds in Oklahoma City; officials in Mexico City cancelled school and placed partial limits on driving as thick, heavy smoke continues to choke the city; an F-16 fighter jet crashed into a warehouse in Southern California during a NORAD training mission; a late-season snowstorm is predicted to dump at least eight to 15 inches of snow in some areas of the Sierra Nevada; and a Wisconsin firefighter was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to an unrelated medical call.

1) The Houston ship channel has finally reopened to two-way traffic, following a vessel collision between a tanker and barges over the weekend. The collision severely damaged two barges carrying gasoline that were being towed by Kirby Inland Marine and the wreckage had to be removed before the channel could reopen. The incident caused about 11,280 barrels of gasoline to spill into the channel and initially stopped vessel traffic in both directions, backing up inbound and outbound traffic for hours.

2) Shortly after takeoff on Wednesday, a helicopter departing from Manhattan lost control and plunged into the Hudson River, injuring the pilot, who was the only person onboard. A deckhand on a passing ferry acted quickly to rescue the pilot -- who suffered a minor injury to his left hand -- after the helicopter plummeted into the Hudson. A dockworker also injured his right wrist as he scrambled to avoid the helicopter as it fell from the sky.

3) The two teenagers accused of fatally shooting one student and wounding eight others were formally charged with murder and attempted murder on Wednesday. Both Devon Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney (Maya Elizabeth McKinney), 16, were charged as adults and the entire case file has been sealed by the judge. Erickson and McKinney entered the Highlands Ranch STEM school in Colorado and opened fire on students in two separate locations, killing Kendrick Castillo, 18, three days before graduation.

4) Early Wednesday, two workers in a window washing basket feared for their lives as the basket began swinging out of control in windy conditions as they were cleaning the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City Fire Department was called to the scene to attempt to secure the basket and rescue the workers. The basket smashed into several windows on the building after it came loose, but responding firefighters were able to stabilize the crane and lower the basket to the ground.

5) Smoke from brush fires has choked Mexico City, forcing officials to cancel school for millions of students in the area. Professional sporting events have also been cancelled amid the heavy haze blanketing the city, and an overnight rain on Wednesday did little to clear the air that was thick with smoke containing fine particles. City officials also called for a partial ban on driving, but more limits to heavy polluting activities such as truck driving and construction site work were being called for by activists from the Citizen Observatory on Air Quality.

6) An F-16 fighter jet engaged in a routine training exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) crashed into a warehouse in Southern California on Thursday, reportedly injuring at least five people on the ground and allegedly igniting a small fire. The incident, which occurred at the base of the runway -- and just outside the March Air Reserve Base -- forced the closure of a section of Interstate 215, a major north-south route in the area in both directions. The pilot ejected safely from the aircraft before the crash, but was taken to a local hospital for observation.

7) A late-season snowstorm is impacting several areas in California, which are under a severe weather warning until 6:00 p.m local time on Friday, including Central Sierra, North Kings River and Sequoia Kings. The snowstorm has the potential to drop up to 24 inches in some areas, with general snowfall amounts from eight to 15 inches in Plumas County and along the West Slope of the Northern Sierra Nevada for those above 5,000 feet. In Los Angeles, nearly a half inch of rain had already fallen by early Thursday morning. The late season snow is unusual for the region, which is heading into its summer season.

8) A Wisconsin firefighter was fatally shot and a police officer was shot and wounded while they responded to an unrelated medical call in the Appleton area, a city located about 120 miles north of Milwaukee. The firefighter and police officer were responding to a medical emergency at the Valley Transit Center in downtown Appleton on Wednesday evening, when a shooting -- unrelated to the incident for which they were administering treatment -- occurred. A total of four people were struck during the incident, and an investigation is being led by the Green Bay Police Department.


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.