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EDM Friday Briefing: Tropical Storm Barry Set to Impact Gulf Coast

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 12, 2019: Tropical Storm Barry set to impact the Gulf Coast late Friday or Saturday; officials caution smaller municipalities after a third city in Florida was hit by a cyberattack; flash flooding killed a pregnant mom and her young son in Pennsylvania Thursday amid strong storms; residents in central Maui were given the all clear to return home as a wildfire continues to burn; New Orleans faces new threat as tropical system comes ashore amid high water levels in the Mississippi River; the CDC says that 28 states have reported cases of measles as the outbreak continues; NASA says their new system will help engineers detect small and critical changes in bridges to help prevent tragic collapses; and President Trump gives Louisiana a federal disaster declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Barry.

1) Hurricane and tropical storm warnings have been issued along the Gulf Coast ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Impacts from the tropical storm are likely to be centered around flooding, rather than wind, and flash flood watches are in effect—along with storm surge warnings—from Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border. Barry is a lopsided storm, with a central pressure of 998 mb, maximum wind speeds of 65 mph, and is moving to the west-northwest at 5 mph.

2) [link url=”” title=”Another city in Florida has fallen prey to Ryuk”] – a targeted ransomware attack originally linked to a state threat group in North Korea. Key Biscayne was infected with the malware on June 23, when an employee opened an attachment to an email. This third attack on small cities in Florida has officials warning that [link url=”” title=”smaller municipalities and their data systems are often easier targets”], as their data systems might not have the sophisticated protection that larger cities can afford.

3) Severe storms swept through Berks County, Pennsylvania, Thursday night, [link url=”” title=”killing a pregnant mother and her eight-year-old son”]. Floodwaters swept the vehicle of a young mother and her son about a half mile away, and as water filled the car, they were unable to escape. [link url=”” title=”Rescuers attempted to reach the woman and her son”], but were unable to do so, and 911 dispatchers lost contact with the woman after about 49 minutes.

4) Thousands of residents who were evacuated for [link url=”” title=”a swift moving wildfire burning in central Maui”] were told early Friday that they could return home. The wildfire, burning amid fallow sugar cane fields and dry brush, erupted amid 20 mph and higher winds and dry conditions, and charred the Maui Veterans Highway. [link url=”” title=”City officials cautioned residents to remain on alert for changing weather and fire conditions”], as the wildfire, which has scorched 10,000 acres so far, is still burning.

5) [link url=”” title=”Tropical Storm Barry is posing a new threat to New Orleans”], as the Mississippi River, which has been impacted by record flooding this year, sits at 16 feet – double its normal height in the city for this time of year. It is the first time that a tropical system has come ashore in New Orleans when the river levels have been this high. As Barry comes ashore, [link url=”” title=”the National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting at least a 2-3 foot storm surge”], which has the river cresting at 19 feet on Saturday, and the predicted rainfall—up to 10 inches—could make those levels even higher.

6) As of July 3, [link url=”” title=”the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 28 states now have reported cases of measles”]. There are also four outbreaks reported where 3 or more cases of measles have been confirmed – Butte County, California, Washington, and two outbreaks in the state of New York. There are now [link url=”” title=”a total of 1,109 confirmed cases across the country”], and the CDC stated that majority of the outbreaks are related to travel outside the country.

7) In the United States, there are more than 200,000 bridges that are 50 years and older, with [link url=”″ title=”over 56,000 of them deemed structurally deficient, although not necessarily unsafe”]. The tragic bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy last summer, led NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to work on a system that could detect small, critical changes that could lead to a catastrophic event. [link url=”″ title=”Computer modeling and high-resolution satellite images are used to detect the smallest shifts in a bridge’s structure”] – which could indicate it is starting to fail.

8) [link url=”” title=”President Trump has declared a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana”] ahead of the expected landfall of Tropical Storm Barry. The disaster declaration paves the way for the [link url=”” title=”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)”] to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. Critical pre-positioning of federal resources helps bolster local and state resources during a disaster response.


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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