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EDM Friday Briefing: California Rolls Out New Terminology for Emergency Alert Messages

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 9, 2018: California rolls out new terminology for its emergency alert messages regarding evacuations, a winter storm wreaked havoc along the Great Lakes causing thousands of flight cancellations on Friday, rescue workers in Taiwan are still searching for seven victims trapped in tilting hotel, authorities in Palm Beach County, Florida identify the suspect involved in a two-day crime spree, one person is dead and three others are injured following a stabbing at a church in Texas, South Africa is to declare its ongoing severe drought as a national disaster, Toronto police uncover the remains of six people in planters connected to an alleged serial killer, winter weather may have played a part in a Southwest Airlines plane skidding on a taxiway at BWI on Wednesday.

  1. [link url=”” title=”Southern California emergency officials are removing the word ‘voluntary’ from the evacuation language”] used during alerts and messages to the public. Officials said that for some, the focus was on the word ‘voluntary’ in the alert, rather than on the word evacuation, causing some people to misinterpret their level of safety. Instead, the new terminology will be “pre-evacuation advisory,” “recommended evacuation warning,” and “mandatory evacuation order,” and the new terms will also be used during wildfires. [link url=”” title=”Officials also changed other language that could lead to inaccurate understanding”], now referring to the event on 1/9 as a debris flow rather than a mudslide, stressing that more than mud was involved.   
  2. A winter storm that moved through Chicago early Friday morning [link url=”” title=”dropped anywhere from 5 to 8 inches of snow”, wreaked havoc on the morning commute and caused dozens of crashes on highways across the city. The winter storm also caused hundreds of schools to be closed, and [link url=”” title=”resulted in more than a thousand flight cancellations and hundreds of delays from both Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports”]. According to the National Weather Service, the storm is clearing out earlier than expected, however the area should expect to see another 3 to 6 inches of snow before it moves out completely. Heavy snow, ice, and reduced visibility have officials asking residents to delay unnecessary travel until the storm subsides and roadways can be cleared. 
  3. Rescuers in Taiwan are [link url=”” title=”still searching for seven people after Tuesday’s deadly earthquake”] tilted a high rise building at a 45 degree angle. The 12-story building is the Yunmen Tsuiti hotel, and the missing people are all thought to be trapped on the bottom floors. The official death toll for the quake stood at 10 on Friday, with the [link url=”″ title=”National Fire Agency in Taiwan stating that at least 273 people had also been injured”] in the 6.4 magnitude temblor that struck Hualien on February 6. 
  4. Police have identified a suspect involved in [link url=”” title=”a two-day crime spree who killed his girlfriend then drove the wrong way on I-95″], crashing into several cars before being shot and killed by a Palm Beach County Deputy, Connor Haugh. The suspect has been identified as Hugo Selva, 22, who shot his girlfriend, Nicole Novak, 26, in a shopping center parking lot before driving the wrong way on I-95. Selva was also identified as [link url=”” title=”the suspect involved in two non-fatal shootings that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday”].  
  5. One person is dead and three others are injured, one seriously, [link url=”” title=”after a suspect pulled a knife and stabbed several people during a church service”] Wednesday night in Corpus Christi, Texas. The suspect, Marco Antonio Moreno, 28, is in custody after stabbing at least four people, a 61-year-old band member who was stabbed in the neck, and the pastor a 54-year-old man, who was stabbed in the chest, both of whom were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries where the band member later died from his injuries. [link url=”” title=”The incident occurred around 7:00 p.m. at a non-denominational service”] held by Kingdom Acts Ministries International that was meeting in a home.  
  6. [link url=”” title=”South Africa now plans to declare its drought a national disaster”] as a lack of rainfall and water continues to plague the western and southern regions of the country. The declaration will enable financial and humanitarian aid to flow from the state. To assist with the drought crisis, government officials enacted several measures, including water restrictions, new boreholes, desalination projects, and early-warning systems, but with little rain, the hardest hit regions are still struggling. [link url=”” title=”The city impacted the most by the limited water supply is Cape Town”], where government officials have stated that water supplies may be shut off as early as May 11.  
  7. On Thursday, police in Toronto, Ontario [link url=”″ title=”found the remains of six people in planters”] on a property connected to alleged serial killer, Bruce McArthur. Police have searched at least 30 other locations where McArthur, who worked as a landscaper, had done work, and are currently examining at least 15 planters they have retrieved from other locations around the city. McArthur was [link url=”” title=”arrested on January 18 and charged with the murders of two men”] who were last seen in the “Gay Village” of Toronto, Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, but suspect he may be responsible for the murders of at least three other people.  
  8. Winter weather that brought freezing rain on Wednesday to the East Coast may have led [link url=”” title=”a Southwest Airlines jet to slide on a taxiway while preparing to takeoff”] at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. The incident occurred just after 10:00 a.m. and involved flight 906, [link url=”” title=”a Boeing 737 carrying 143 passengers and six crew members that was headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica”]. No injuries were reported and the passengers and crew were able to safely evacuate the airplane using the air-stairs and were then bussed to the terminal.

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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