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EDM Friday Briefing: Excessive Heat and Grasshopper Infestation in the West

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for June 25, 2021: The NWS has issued Excessive Heat Warnings for all of Oregon and Washington until next Thursday; search teams continue to sift through the shifting rubble of the collapsed condominium building in Miami; six major wildfires have now scorched more than 16,000 acres in Colorado; PG&E will pay $5.9 million for water release violations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant; a wind blade manufacturing plant in South Dakota is set to close due to foreign undercutting; ranchers and farmers out West face the threat of grasshopper infestation amid drought conditions; officials in Tulsa are warning residents of a data leak from its recent ransomware attack that includes PPI; and FICEMS recently published new guidance for establishing telemedicine use within EMS and 911 organizations.

  1. The National Weather Service has issued Excessive Heat Warnings for much of the Northwest, including Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. The heatwave is expected to reach north into the Canadian Northwest, including Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta. The dangerous heatwave is expected to push temperatures up to 29 degrees higher than normal, with little relief from nighttime temperatures. The heatwave starts today and NWS forecasters warn that the dangerous heat could last until next weekend.

  2. Firefighters and rescue teams are still searching for victims amid the rubble of a high-rise condominium that partially collapsed on Thursday in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Crews have pulled at least 2 people from the rubble, and officials have confirmed three deaths. Rescue efforts are dangerous, as the rubble continues to shift, and fires flare-up. Fire officials are also concerned about the structural integrity of the part of the Champlain Towers that still remain standing.

  3. Six major wildfires are burning in Colorado that has scorched over 16,200 acres. The largest fire is the Oil Springs Fire–burning just east of the state’s border with Utah–which was started by lightning and has now consumed nearly 12,700 acres.  The Sylvan Fire continues to burn in the White River National Forest amid difficult, steep, and dangerous terrain and threatens multiple critical infrastructures.

  4. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has agreed to pay $5.9 million in a settlement with the Central Coast Regional Water Control Board over its discharge of cooling water at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. The funds are slated for water quality projects meant to protect marine environments in the region. PG&E has already announced it will shut down Diablo Canyon in August of 2025.

  5. A wind blade manufacturing plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota, cited undercutting by foreign suppliers who use low-cost labor and create higher emissions, as their main reasons for its planned closure in two months. According to reports, the permanent closure of the plant will cost the small community at least 300 jobs. Many workers having been employed at Molded Fiber Glass (MFG) for at least ten years, and now face an uncertain future.

  6. Ranchers and farmers in the West now face another concern amid the ongoing drought conditions–grasshoppers. Grasshoppers thrive in the warm, dry conditions of a drought, and swarms of grasshoppers have already invaded central Montana, stripping trees bare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began aerial spraying of pesticides to prevent additional economic damage from the grasshopper infestation.

  7. The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma suffered a ransomware attack in May, which disrupted online bill paying, utility billing, email, and several official websites. On June 23, the Conti Ransomware gang published nearly 19,000 files, the majority of which were police citations. Due to the breach and data leak, city officials announced that personally identifiable information (PPI) was included in the leaked police citations, and cautioned residents to monitor their accounts and credit reports for suspicious activity.

  8.  The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) is exploring the possibility of using telemedicine to meet unmet healthcare needs. Although telemedicine is in its infancy, the addition of its use can benefit patients, EMS, and 911 operations. To assist EMS and 911 organizations new to telemedicine, FICEMS recently released new guidance for establishing telemedicine, Telemedicine Framework for EMS and 911 Organizations, which is available for download at 911.gov.

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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