AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: Historic Flooding Devastates Nebraska, Iowa

Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 18, 2019: Two people were injured when a gas tanker blew up in Los Angeles; major cities across the nation increase security at mosques in the wake of the New Zealand mass shooting; Nebraska’s Cooper Nuclear Power Plant declared a Notification of Unusual Event on Friday; Boeing released a statement that a software upgrade and pilot training revisions are nearly complete for the 737 MAX 8 aircraft; evacuations and flash flood warnings continue in Nebraska amid historic flooding; authorities in Utah temporarily suspended their search for a missing four-year-old girl; three states declared states-of-emergency following a winter bomb cyclone; and Cyclone Idai has decimated the central port city of Mozambique.

1) Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) specialists were called to the scene of a gas tanker explosion in Los Angeles, California on Sunday that injured two people. The tanker, which held 9,000 gallons of gasoline, was leaking when it ignited. The flames threatened two area homes, which were blackened by the fire. Nearly 72 firefighters worked for almost two hours to extinguish the blaze, which, according to reports, burned for so long it reduced the tanker to scrap metal.

2) Major cities across the nation have increased security at mosques in the wake of the mass shooting that took place in New Zealand on Friday. New York City posted extra police officers armed with tactical gear outside several mosques across the city, and the Chicago Police Department tweeted that special attention would be given to area mosques as a precaution. The mass shooting in New Zealand took place at two mosques in Christchurch, where a total of 50 people were killed and 34 people were injured. Twelve victims are still listed in critical condition at one area hospital.

3) The Cooper Nuclear Plant in Brownsville, Nebraska declared a Notification of Unusual Event on Friday, after a powerful winter storm swept through parts of the nation earlier in the week. The storm, known as a bomb cyclone, produced heavy snow, blizzards, heavy rainfall, strong storms, and tornadoes resulting in massive flooding along the Missouri River, near where the plant sits. The flooding reached 43 feet Friday morning — nine feet over flood stage. Although there is no public threat, flooding can cause the plant to lose power, making it more difficult to cool the uranium fuel in the reactor core, which is what occurred in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

4) A software upgrade and pilot training revision is nearly complete for the 737 MAX 8 aircraft, according to the Boeing Company, the manufacturer of the airplane. The changes and revisions are meant to address how the aircraft’s flight control systems respond to erroneous sensor inputs and to update pilot cockpit procedures for the new software update. The software update comes in the wake of two 737 MAX 8 airplane crashes that occurred within six months — a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October and more recently, the Ethiopian Airways crash in Nairobi on March 10 — that subsequently caused the temporary grounding of the aircraft type worldwide.

5) Evacuations continued on Sunday in Nebraska as widespread and record floods have covered roadways; destroyed bridges, homes, and stores; left livestock stranded; and cut off small communities along the river, where fresh water is now scarce due to contaminated wells. The unprecedented amount of water caused some levees to breach on the Missouri River, inundating Fremont County, and two deaths have occurred as a result of the record flooding. Flash flood warnings were issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) on Sunday for several towns in Nebraska and Iowa, until early Monday morning, and shelters remained open for displaced residents.

6) Authorities have temporarily halted search efforts for a missing four-year-old girl in Utah after three days of searching were unsuccessful. The little girl, Anndine Jones, wandered away from her home on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation on Thursday. The Navajo Police Department said the break will allow authorities to “organize and secure additional resources for subsequent search efforts.”

7) Three states have declared states of emergency as record-high river levels were reported in at least 38 locations in the Midwest. Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska declared states of emergency after a bomb cyclone caused blizzard conditions and widespread flooding that saw rivers rise to historic levels. As water levels rose, levees failed on the Missouri River, water overtopped the Platte levee near Thomas Lake and a dam failure on the Niobrara River devastated much of the surrounding area in Niobrara, Nebraska.

8) Cyclone Idai slammed into Mozambique and according to the Red Cross, has destroyed 90 percent of Beira, the nation’s central port city. Widespread destruction from heavy rainfall and winds in excess of 105 mph swept away homes, roads, and bridges; cut off electricity and communication to Beira; and closed the city’s airport. Government officials reported that at least 89 people have died in the wake of the powerful cyclone and that total is expected to rise.


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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