Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: TSA Bans Laptops on Select Flights, Hail Storms

EDM Wednesday Briefing: TSA Bans Laptops on Select Flights, Hail Storms

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[Photo credit: Mark Strickland]

Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 22, 2017: TSA issues a new rule banning certain electronic devices on select flights in wake of terror threat, severe weather across the Southeast spawns large and damaging hail storms, a massive warehouse fire in Massachusetts sees HAZMAT Tier 1 response, the nationwide manhunt continues for suspected Tennessee kidnapper Ted Cummins, a huge fire in Kansas destroys a four-story building and multiple homes, Vigilant Guard 2017 exercise to simulate Category 3 or 4 hurricane landfall in Georgia, an Oklahoma wildfire that destroyed nine homes is suspected to be arson, and a North Korea missile launch early Wednesday morning ends in failure.

  1. A new rule issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday bans electronic devices larger than a smartphone, including laptops, from carryon luggage for flights that originate out of 10 airports in the Middle East. Citing in-flight threats to airlines by terrorist groups intent on circumventing security, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees the TSA, stated that the devices would be allowed in checked baggage and noted that the rule did not apply to medical devices.
  2. Severe weather moved through the Southeast Tuesday afternoon amid warm temperatures and an approaching cold front that spawned heavy thunderstorms with heavy winds, rain, and hail. In some areas, including Bradley County, Tennessee, hail ranged from nickel to baseball sized and damaged homes and cars, smashing windows, while heavy winds toppled trees and damaged roofs. The strong storms knocked out power across the Atlanta area, uprooted trees, and toppled power lines, killing at least one person after a tree landed on the home.
  3. A massive warehouse fire in Rockland, Massachusetts prompted neighboring homes to be evacuated and delayed schools on Wednesday. The fire in the abandoned warehouse was reported just before 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday and firefighters said wind was a concern as it pushed flames toward nearby homes, causing them to evacuate the neighborhood. Due to thick, heavy smoke from the fire, the state dispatched its hazardous materials team for a Tier 1 response to monitor air conditions. 
  4. The Tennessee manhunt for kidnapping suspect Ted Cummins continues as new information reveals Cummins conducted an Internet search on teen marriages and how to avoid being tracked by the police. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said that Cummins also searched the internet about information for how a Nissan Rogue could be tracked by police. Cummins is wanted for the suspected kidnapping of 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, who is a student at the school where Cummins used to teach. More than 650 leads have been reported to TBI, but there have been no credible sightings of the two since their disappearance on March 13.
  5. After a massive fire broke out at an Overland Park, Kansas, apartment complex on Monday, firefighters were battling to control the scene on Tuesday. The four-story, unoccupied building, which was under construction at a multimillion-dollar City Place development, was destroyed by the immense fire that spread to an adjoining building that was still burning hours later. At least 22 homes in the area were also impacted by the fire when raining debris ignited roofs. Three firefighters injured as a result of the blaze were taken to a local hospital.
  6. A joint natural disaster exercise is set to take place beginning on March 27 and continuing through April 2 simulating a hurricane impacting locations around Georgia. The exercise, Vigilant Guard 2017, will involve some 8,000 individuals from the Georgia National Guard and guardsmen from five neighboring states, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The simulated exercise will involve a category 3 or 4 hurricane making landfall on the Georgia coast, testing the state's and local area emergency responses to the natural disaster.  
  7. An Oklahoma wildfire that has destroyed at least nine homes approximately 80 miles south of Tulsa may have been started deliberately, but officials say it is now almost fully contained. About 100 residents were forced to flee their homes after the fire started on Monday in Pittsburg and Haskell counties but were finally able to return home on Tuesday. The fire consumed at least 1.5 square miles, but favorable weather conditions helped keep the fire from spreading farther. Homeowners who lost their homes during the fire are being assisted by the Red Cross.
  8. On Wednesday morning, North Korea conducted another missile launch that ended in failure. The launch follows the country's announcement just three days ago about a breakthrough in its rocket development program. North Korea launched four ballistic missiles earlier in the month in reaction to joint military exercises being conducted by the United States and South Korea, which the North believes are invasion rehearsals.

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.