AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Severe Weather Spawns Multiple Tornadoes and Kills Two in Oklahoma

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 3, 2019: Two days of severe weather caused widespread damage when it swept across Texas and Oklahoma; the governor of Oklahoma declared a state of emergency for 52 counties following multiple tornadoes and flooding from severe weather; more than one million people were evacuated in India ahead of Cyclone Fani’s landfall; teachers in Florida can now carry guns in the classroom; a tropical disturbance is set to impact portions of Florida with heavy rainfall; PG&E is under investigation by the SEC; a student who was killed by the gunman who opened fire at UNCC is being hailed as a hero; and a high ranking pharmaceutical executive and four of his colleagues were convicted of a bribery scheme that helped fuel the opioid crisis.

1) Beginning Tuesday, two days of severe weather swept across northern Texas and into Oklahoma, producing life-threatening tornadoes, straight-line winds, hail and widespread rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, there were a reported 16 tornadoes across the eastern portion of the state on Tuesday, while a reported six tornadoes touched down Wednesday in areas straddling northern Texas and southern Oklahoma. The Tuesday storms injured at least 22 people and dropped heavy rainfall — up to six inches in some areas of Oklahoma — and caused widespread damage to homes, businesses, outbuildings, trees, and power lines.

2) The governor of Oklahoma declared a state of emergency on Wednesday for 52 counties, following a bout of severe weather that brought multiple tornadoes, straight-line winds, widespread rainfall and flooding. Two deaths are being attributed to the severe weather, including one person whose vehicle became submerged in floodwaters near Tulsa, and one person in Bryan County, where a deadly tornado that was rated an EF-3 tore apart her home. State emergency management officials are requesting residents to report damages sustained by the severe weather online to allow them to better coordinate response and recovery operations.

3) A massive evacuation effort was mobilized by officials in India on Thursday ahead of the imminent landfall of the powerful Cyclone Fani. More than one million people were evacuated ahead of the dangerous cyclone, which is the strongest storm to hit the area in nearly a decade. Emergency management officials closed the port Wednesday and the Kolkata airport will remain closed through Saturday morning. The Category 3 hurricane-equivalent cyclone made landfall near Puri, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Friday with wind speeds of 112-118 mph and winds gusting up to 124 mph.

4) A new law passed in Florida will now allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. The measure is meant to prevent another school massacre like the one that occurred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland early last year. The voluntary Guardian program began last year when a law was passed that required at least one armed staff member or law enforcement officer at each campus, and the new law will enhance this program. Teachers must participate in and pass a 144-hour certification class, and school employees from at least 40 of Florida’s 67 counties were already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour certification class.

5) Although the official start of hurricane season is a month away, a tropical disturbance formed over the Atlantic Ocean and dumped heavy rainfall on the Bahamas and parts of Florida, including Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, on Thursday. The system, which is not expected to develop into anything serious, will impact portions of Florida with heavy rainfall, before it moves further along a more northeastward trek, affecting Georgia and the Carolinas. Rainfall has been below average in some parts of Florida, including West Palm Beach, so increased rainfall will help decrease wildfire risks since with the hotter summer months, soils and vegetation dry out more quickly.

6) The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) is now facing investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company is currently facing government investigations, widespread litigation and potentially billions in liability in connection with its equipment in the recent California wildfires. Those fires include the deadly and most destructive wildfire in state history — the Camp Fire — which destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 86 people. The company had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire, and the new investigation by the SEC is in relation to public disclosures and losses related to wildfires.

7) One student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) is being hailed as a hero after witnesses say he tackled the gunman who opened fire on the campus Tuesday evening. Riley Howell, a student at UNCC from Waynesville, North Carolina, tackled the gunman, Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, and attempted to disarm him, which likely saved the lives of other students. Howell lost his life while trying to disarm the gunman, whose actions killed one other person and wounded four more — all of whom are expected to recover.

8) Five executives, including the founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc., were found guilty on Thursday of bribing doctors to prescribe an addictive painkiller — Subsys, a fentanyl spray — to increase sales. John Kapoor, who served as the chairman for the company, is the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executive convicted in a case tied to the current drug crisis that has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths annually. In 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, prompting nationwide investigations into the prescribing of the highly addictive opioid drugs.


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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