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AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: More Victims Found from Norway Landslide

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 4, 2021: More bodies were found amid the rubble of a large landslide in Norway that occurred last week; wintry weekend weather led to widespread power outages across the Great Lakes region; cleanup efforts continue across Iowa after the 2020 derecho devastated the region more than four months ago; the Etna volcano in Italy is spewing lava bombs up to 660 feet in the air; police have identified the pastor who was killed in a shooting at an East Texas Church on Sunday; the BAER assessment report reveals significant damage from the Cameron Peak Fire that will challenge area resources, including water supplies; a swarm of earthquakes over the weekend preceded new activity at the Kilauea volcano; and a new storm system has moved into the Pacific Northwest, prompting winter storm warnings for higher elevations.

1) At least three people are still missing in Norway after a major landslide swept away homes last Wednesday morning. A total of seven bodies have been found amid the rubble, while more than 1,000 people have been evacuated from Gjerdrum. Cracks were also observed in the ground in an area about 1.2 miles away, prompting the evacuation of at least another 46 people.  

2) Wintry weekend weather led to widespread power outages across the Great Lakes region, including parts of Indiana. Snowy weather moved into the region on Friday, and a round of fresh, wet snow hit the area on Sunday, dumping several inches of the heavy precipitation. Central and southern Michigan were hit especially hard, with power still out for some people as of Sunday night, and temperatures expected to only reach a high of 35 on Monday.  

3) Residents across Iowa are still cleaning up from the derecho that hit more than four months ago. Cedar Rapids is no exception, as crews continue to remove damaged or fallen trees that pose hazards. City officials noted that curbside debris piles still await pickup in some neighborhoods, roofs are still missing, and damaged homes still need to be either torn down or repaired. Officials noted that it is likely to be spring before all the debris is removed and repairs can begin for many of the damaged structures.  

4) The complex stratovolcano, Etna, in Sicily, Italy, continues to erupt with what is described as sometimes spectacular strombolian activity. Activity in the volcano is changing, largely due to its crater rims collapsing, and officials note that lava bombs are being ejected into the air anywhere from about 330 feet to 660 feet. A swarm of earthquakes between six and eight miles deep were recorded in the area on Friday and into Saturday, and it is unknown if they signal an imminent increase in activity within Europe’s most active volcano.

5) Police have identified the pastor killed in a church in East Texas on Sunday. Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams was shot while confronting a man hiding in the church overnight from police. Two other people were injured by the suspect, identified as Mytrez Woolen, 21, who, after shooting the pastor,  fled in his vehicle.  

6) The Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) team’s report regarding areas damaged by the Cameron Peak Fire and the fire’s impacts was released mid-December. According to the report, 6% of the area has a high level of soil burn, while another 30% has a moderate soil level burn severity. Additionally, assessments indicate that there is a 90 to 100% chance that water quality issues will persist through the next several years, including those from post-fire ash, sediment-laden runoff, nutrient loading, and potential debris flows.

7) Observations continue at the Kilauea volcano, and new activity includes an increased lava lake depth, along with slightly elevated SO2 emissions on Sunday. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory noted on Sunday, that the lava lake was now more than 620 feet deep, and lava continues to erupt from the northwest vents. Volcanic hazards from the ongoing eruption include high levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions, volcanic gas particles, and vog (volcanic smog), which has been observed downwind.

8) A new storm system has moved into the Pacific Northwest, bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms along the coast. Those storms will produce strong and gusty winds throughout the day on Monday, and dangerous surf is forecast for Monday into Tuesday along the coastline, with 22-25 foot waves likely. The National Weather Service (NWS) has also issued a winter storm warning in higher elevations across the area, due to the strong system, with snowfall amounts in some areas forecast at 12 inches or higher.

 

  

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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