AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Evacuations Ordered on St. Vincent Ahead of La Soufrière Volcanic Eruption

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 9, 2021: Officials on St. Vincent ordered an evacuation ahead of the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano; a new grant program is available from ReCoverCa for homeowners impacted by the 2018 Camp Fire; talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the Grand Renaissance Dam have once again stalled; the NOAA drought outlook for the western United States could negatively impact the upcoming wildfire season; hundreds of residents evacuated in Manatee County return home as water levels in the leaking retention pond lowered significantly; U.S. Highway 1 (PCH) is set to reopen about two months ahead of schedule after a section of the highway collapsed near Big Sur; crews are working to contain the Margo Fire near Tucson as evacuation orders remain in place for residents; and California unveils a $536 million fire prevention plan that focuses on prescribed fires and vegetation reduction efforts.

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1. A Red Alert and an evacuation order were issued Thursday for residents on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Residents will be moved to safer locations in other areas of the island, and a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is also en route to the island to assist with evacuations. Seismologists believed a sharp increase in seismic activity at the La Soufrière volcano meant an eruption was imminent. As predicted, the  volcano erupted at around 8:41 a.m., shooting ash at least six miles into the sky. The eruption remains ongoing.

2. Homeowners impacted by California’s Camp Fire in 2018 may be eligible for a grant program to help them repair or rebuild. A new housing program launched by ReCoverCa, the Owner Occupied Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program, is offering the grants in amounts of up to $200,000. Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including owning the home — which must be a single-family home — during the disaster and be current on all property taxes.

3. Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the long-contested Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, ended Tuesday, again without any resolutions. Egypt is using the dam to divert water to a massive hydroelectric plant on the Nile River to supply electricity to tens of millions of people. Construction on the dam began in 2011, and conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia may result if a resolution on water control and usage cannot be reached.

4. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook. The outlook shows that at least 40% of the western United States is currently classified as extreme to exceptional, and the regional drought is expected to worsen. Temperatures have been higher than normal, winters have been drier, and snowpack in Colorado is melting earlier and more quickly than is average. These conditions could lead to an earlier start — and a more intense — wildfire season for some western states.

5. Hundreds of Florida residents in Manatee County were permitted to return home Tuesday after being evacuated ahead of a potential reservoir failure. The Piney Point wastewater reservoir developed a leak that threatened the failure of the retention pond. To prevent a catastrophic flood situation, water continues to be pumped out and the new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inundation map shows a much lower flow should a breach occur.

6. A section of the U.S. Highway 1 that collapsed after the Dolan Fire and heavy rainfall on January 28 is set to reopen nearly two months ahead of schedule. Work to repair the 150-foot section of collapsed roadway is ahead of schedule due to dry weather conditions. The collapse occurred when the Rat Creek culvert became clogged with boulders, trees, and other debris from the Dolan Fire burn scar in the Santa Lucia mountains, which received up to 15 inches of rain over two days.

7. Evacuations remain in place for residents impacted by a wildfire in Pinal County, Arizona, burning about 60 miles north of Tucson. Known as the Margo Fire, the blaze has scorched at least 500 acres and is only 20% contained. Firefighting ground crews, supported by aircraft, have stopped the forward progress of the wildfire, which has already destroyed at least 12 structures.

8. California unveiled a sweeping wildfire prevention and control plan that will cost the state an estimated $536 million. The majority of the funds would go toward fire prevention and suppression efforts through the use of prescribed fires and various methods for the reduction of vegetation growth. Approximately $25 million from the plan will help fortify older homes built before current fire-resistant codes were in effect.

  

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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