AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: 1960 Quake Was Catalyst for Tsunami Warning System

Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 8, 2021: U.S. Navy sailors suffered injuries when their submarine in the South China Sea made contact with an unknown object while submerged; the power grid in Puerto Rico remains in critical condition despite a partial private takeover by Luma; Grand Isle sees about 20% of its power restored in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida; FEMA is hosting its final webinar for its enhanced and updated CPG 101 V3 this October 13; requests for no-cost exercise assistance from the NEP must be submitted by November 1; a new FirstNet push-to-talk app was tested in the spring of 2021; ash eruptions from La Palma have again forced the closure of the island’s airport; and the 1960 Chilean earthquake was the largest ever recorded, and the tsunami it generated was the catalyst for today’s U.S. Tsunami Warning System.

1. The Navy has confirmed that at least 11 sailors were injured while on board their submarine, the USS Connecticut, when the sub made contact with an unknown object in the South China Sea. An investigation is underway; however, U.S. Navy officials noted that there was no evidence to indicate the incident was hostile. Reportedly, there were also no land masses in the vicinity of the submerged vessel. The submarine, along with its nuclear propulsion plant, remained stable and underway to Guam after the incident.

2. The power grid in Puerto Rico is still in critical condition following catastrophic damage by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Despite a recent partial takeover by the private firm Luma, scheduled power supply interruptions and load shedding are reportedly still required to protect power-generating plants and avoid a total collapse. Residents are subject to extended blackouts, poor customer service, and voltage fluctuations, which often damage home electronics and appliances.

3. Some power restoration and water services are returning to parts of Grand Isle, Louisiana, following its devastation from Hurricane Ida. According to officials, Entergy has a temporary substation nearly installed and adds more poles and lines daily. Power has already been restored to about 20% of the island, but the majority of the island is still buried in sand and debris. Due to the overwhelming amount of construction vehicles and continuing work on the island, it remains closed to visitors.

4. Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a significant update to its Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG 101 V3), which aligns with the most current policies, programs, and doctrine. The final webinar highlighting the major enhancements and changes to the publication will be held on October 13. Advanced registration is required, and space is limited, so it is first-come, first-served.

5. Requests for no-cost assistance for exercise support from the National Exercise Program (NEP) are still being accepted until November 1. The program offers no-cost assistance for exercise design, development, execution, and evaluation to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions to validate capabilities across all mission areas. Additional no-cost exercise support offerings will be made available in the spring and fall of 2022 for any jurisdiction not ready to submit their requests at this time.

6. A test of a push-to-talk app by FirstNet (FNPTT) for communication between components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and first responders was conducted in the spring of 2021. The technology is meant to facilitate interoperability between components of the DHS – currently using proprietary and non-interoperable push-to-talk systems (PTTs) – and first responders during emergencies and critical missions. Testing of the system also included two exercise scenarios, including use of the FNPTT app by the Coast Guard as far as 25 miles offshore.

7. Ash eruptions from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands again reached the main airport and caused it to shut down. The ash fall is likely to last through Saturday, causing the cancellation of flights until officials deem travel into the airport safe for aircraft and passengers. The main lava flow has also formed a new branch to the south of Todoque, impacting banana crops, buildings and water tanks.

8. The largest magnitude earthquake to ever be recorded occurred in Bio-Bio, Chile, on May 22, 1960. The earthquake registered at a magnitude of 9.5 and occurred at a depth of 25 kilometers (about 15.53 miles). The prolonged shaking and subsequent earthquakes caused massive subsidence, or sinking of the ground, and rendered all marine navigational charts for the area obsolete. The massive quake also generated a tsunami that inundated multiple countries, destroyed homes, and killed people, including in the Philippines, Japan, the West Coast of the United States, and Hawaii. The deadly tsunami generated by the massive earthquake was the catalyst for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in 1965 and eventually the U.S. Tsunami Warning System.

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.

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