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EDM Monday Briefing: Alaskans Bearing Costs of Swan Lake Fire Transmission Line Damage

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 16, 2019: Santa Barbara County OEM works to improve disaster alerts; deaths from the White Island volcanic eruption have now risen to a total of 16; video shows the ambush of an Arkansas police officer that was allegedly shot 10 times in the head; a snowboarder was killed after he unintentionally triggered an avalanche near Salt Lake City; four people died when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Davao City in the Philippines; the mayor of New Orleans declared a state of emergency after city servers and computers were hit with a cyberattack; PG&E wants to add 20 microgrids to help minimize PSPS impacts for the 2020 wildfire season; and many Alaskans are paying a higher rate for electricity after the Swan Fire damaged a key piece of critical infrastructure that lacks redundancy.

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1) After the Montecito debris slide in 2018, and the recent, swift-moving Cave Fire in November, Santa Barbara County’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has worked to eliminate issues with its emergency alerts. The County is working with Everbridge to resolve computer alert glitches and now has a designated, full-time GIS (geographic information system) specialist that assists with evacuation-map drawing. Other issues they are working on include [link url=”” title=”the delayed release of additional messages after the initial emergency alert–messages which currently must go through 14 agencies in the county before they can be sent”]–which could be life-threatening to residents.

2) The death toll from the eruption of the White Island volcano last week off the coast of New Zealand has now risen to 16, following the death of another victim at a hospital in Australia. [link url=”” title=”Rescue teams in New Zealand also failed to recover any additional bodies when they returned to White Island on Sunday”]. Officials believe that at least two more bodies remain on the island or in the surrounding sea, and say they will continue to search for those missing bodies.

3) New video released reveals that an Arkansas police officer gunned down in his car last week was shot 10 times in the head. Fayetteville police officer, Stephen Carr, 27, was sitting in his car outside the police department waiting for his partner when he was [link url=”” title=”ambushed and killed by a suspect interested in anti-law enforcement groups”]. Investigators reportedly say that Carr was shot at point-blank range, with the suspect, London Phillips, 35, firing at least 16 rounds at Carr, then reloading his gun.

4) One snowboarder was [link url=”″ title=”killed Sunday afternoon in an early season avalanche that he likely triggered”] in the back country near Salt Lake City, Utah. The 45-year-old man was only part way down the 9,990 foot slope known as Dutch Draw, [link url=”” title=”when an avalanche buried him in a 100 foot wide, three foot deep mound of snow”]. According to reports, the man was [link url=”” title=”snowboarding in the Conehead area of Dutch Draw”]–a steep and rocky area known to be avalanche-prone.

5) The [link url=”” title=”Philippines was struck by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on Sunday that reportedly has killed at least three people”], including a 6-year-old girl. The quake struck on the island of Mindanao, [link url=”” title=”about 38 miles southwest of Davao City, at a depth of around 13.9 miles”], triggering landslides, damaging structures and roads, and trapping people in the rubble. The tremor also [link url=”″ title=”disrupted power in the town of Magsaysay, where another 14 people were hurt”], although none appeared to have serious injuries.

6) The mayor of New Orleans declared a state of emergency on Friday after the city’s computers were hit with a cyberattack. [link url=”” title=”Suspicious activity was initially detected at around 5:00 a.m., with an uptick in phishing attempts and ransomware by 8:00 a.m.”], which prompted orders for all servers and computers to be shut down immediately. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated and multiple agencies across all levels of government were working with the city to investigate the cyberattack.

7) In an effort to keep electricity flowing, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is seeking to [link url=”” title=”build microgrids near 20 substations ahead of the 2020 wildfire season”]. The additional microgrids are the latest efforts by the company to minimize impacts from Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). PG&E is seeking companies to build, own, and operate, the grids or build them on behalf of the utility and to complete the work by June 1, 2020, but not later than September 1, 2020.

8) Many Alaskans are still experiencing secondary impacts from the Swan Lake fire–which began in June and was finally contained in October–after the fire destroyed and damaged a key power transmission line. Known as the [link url=”” title=”SQ line, the electrical power transmission line was built to link population centers to low-cost energy”]–some of which is now produced at Bradley Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. As a piece of critical infrastructure, the SQ line lacks redundancy, and efforts to work on the damaged poles and lines have been hindered by post-fire hazards and weather.

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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