AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Florida Algae Blooms, California Wildfires, Permafrost, Wauconda Evacuation, Coral Bleaching

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 1, 2016: Aglae blooms prompt an emergency declaration in Florida, the issue is blamed on aging infrastructure, California wildfires are nearly contained but claim more lives, Arctic permafrost is thawing, a Wauconda, IL neighborhood is evacuated, and coral bleaching concerns grow.

  1. Florida Governor Rick Scott [link url=”” title=”added two counties to the emergency declaration“] concerning the algae bloom that is affecting the Atlantic Coast in Florida. The declaration, which originally included St. Lucie and Martin counties, [link url=”” title=”has now been extended“] south to Palm Beach County on Florida’s east coast, and Lee County on the Gulf Coast. Coastal communities blame the continued water releases from Lake Okeechobee for the algae bloom outbreak and other environmental damage, and local and state lawmakers are requesting federal authorities to stop releasing water.
  2. According to reports, the main problem causing the issue is the aging dike system that holds water in Lake Okeechobee. Lake levels need to be maintained at lower levels to avoid a dike failure. Governor Scott [link url=”″ title=”blames the federal government“] for failing to make the needed repairs to the aging system – a piece of the nation’s critical infrastructure that is at-risk of imminent failure. Stormwater runoff, along with area septic tanks that may contaminate water, may contribute to the algae blooms in the Caloosahatchie and St. Lucie Rivers. Repairs to the dike are likely to take years, and efforts to direct waters into the Everglades, south of the lake, have been complicated due to a myriad of regulations, conservation efforts, and restoration projects that have stalled.
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  4. A fire in Wasco County, OR began burning on Thursday evening a few miles east of the [link url=”″ title=”The Dalles, and has burned at least 2,800 acres.“] The fire [link url=”” title=”forced evacuations at Cello Village,“] along Old Moody Road and from 15 Mile Road to the Deschutes River, but evacuations were lifted around midnight last night. Officials indicated that about sixty percent of the fire had been contained by 10 p.m. and crews of more than sixty people were working to completely contain the blaze by stopping it at Fulton Road.
  5. The [link url=”” title=”Erskine fire in California“] near the Lake Isabella area is now eighty percent contained, according to official reports. The fire burned 46,684 acres and has stopped growing. Officials expect to have the fire fully contained by July 5. The [link url=”” title=”fire has destroyed 285 homes“] and an AT&T microwave cell hub, and has damaged 12 other homes, according to recent reports. Water has been restored to all areas impacted by the fire, and Southern California Edison indicates that power should be completely restored by the end of the week. All evacuations have been lifted, and all area roads are now opened.
  6. Nearby, the Border fire in San Diego County is believed to have claimed two more lives, bringing the total number of deaths from recent wildfires to four. Fires across the state have burned over 60,000 acres, destroyed homes, and engaged more than 4,000 firefighters in combating a total of 12 wildfires. Officials are concerned about the [link url=”” title=”destructive start to the wildfire season“], noting that trees affected by the bark beetle, along with the ongoing drought, are contributing to dead and dying trees around the state which provide plenty of fuel for the wildfires
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  8. Permafrost is melting but its impact on the earth’s climate is still unknown. Scientists believe that [link url=”” title=”permafrost in the Arctic may hold as much as two and a half times the carbon“] that has been emitted since around the mid-1700s. And with the Arctic region warming at a very fast clip, those same scientists are concerned what will happen when this carbon is released into the atmosphere as the permafrost melts. With more than 1,000 gigatons (1,000 billion tons) of carbon estimated to be currently stored in Arctic permafrost, determining what form it takes when the permafrost melts is of utmost importance to those studying climate change.
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  10. A neighborhood in [link url=”” title=”Wauconda, IL was evacuated“] Thursday evening after reports that a home may contain explosives. A sweep of the home in question took approximately three hours and was conducted by the Wauconda police in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Waukegan bomb squad, and the SWAT Team from the Illinois State Police. Explosive dogs did alert on something in the house, but officials were unsure of what it was. The [link url=”” title=”evacuation order was lifted“] when authorities believed nothing large enough to endanger surrounding homes existed in the house. The search was prompted by reports that a man told a local business employee that he wanted to blow up police by luring them to his home. The man also indicated he hated the police and politicians and that he had a terminal illness. A [link url=”” title=”suspect was taken into custody“], but has not yet been charged.
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  12. [link url=”” title=”Coral reefs across the globe are in trouble“] thanks to anthropogenic (human) influences on climate change. Rising global temperatures are warming ocean waters and exceeding the acceptable temperatures for these algae, but the greatest threats to these vital ecosystems come from greenhouse gas emissions that increase atmospheric carbon levels, that then contribute to warming water temperatures and ocean acidification. Coral reefs are living, breathing, ecosystems in the ocean that are vital to its health and balance, and contribute to the national economy by providing medicines, food, and tourism jobs, and their loss would greatly impact humans.
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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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