AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Monday Briefing: Today Is the 35th Anniversary of Chernobyl Disaster

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for April 26, 2021: A Red Flag Warning issued by the NWS remains in effect today amid a swift-moving wildfire in New Mexico; today is the last day for Texas residents to purchase emergency preparedness supplies tax-free; as the 2021 hurricane season approaches, phone apps offer preparedness information and other helpful tips; 53 crew members are presumed dead after Indonesian officials announced the finding of its naval submarine; the first application phase of the 2018 Kilauea Disaster Recovery Voluntary Housing Buyout Program is now open; a wildfire prompted the evacuation of 200 homes in Arizona on Sunday; the USDA’s FSIS announced a recall of beef and veal broth and stock produced by More Than Gourmet, Inc.; and today marks 35 years since the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster.

1. Residents in New Mexico evacuated for a wildfire were permitted to return home on Sunday afternoon. The swift-moving wildfire began Saturday in Torrance County and quickly scorched 52 acres. Firefighters worked through the night on Saturday to build containment lines ahead of the high winds forecast for the county on Sunday and Monday. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Red Flag Warning for the area until Monday evening due to low humidity levels, high winds and warm temperatures.

2. Today is the last day for residents of Texas to purchase emergency preparedness supplies tax-free. April 24 through April 26 is the Emergency Preparation Supplies Tax Holiday for the state, allowing tax-free purchases of any items related to emergency preparedness, which includes items such as generators, flashlights, emergency ladders, batteries, hurricane shutters, and first aid kits. As increased disasters affect the U.S., ensuring preparedness is key to a successful response and recovery from any disaster, including floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, all of which affect Texas.

3. Only one month remains before the start of the 2021 hurricane season. Residents likely to be affected by a hurricane should ensure preparedness now, and that includes the use of helpful phone apps. Phone apps can offer a wealth of information, and users can choose which apps are best for them and their families. Some choices for disaster preparedness phone apps include FEMA, the Red Cross — both the First Aid and Hurricane apps — and Zello, a walkie-talkie app for phones.

4. An Indonesian naval submarine that vanished last Wednesday was found broken into pieces and lying on the ocean floor by an underwater robot camera. The submarine was carrying 53 crew members — now presumed dead — when it went down off the coast of Bali about 1,500 yards to the south from where it last dove. The submarine was certified to a depth of 655 feet below the surface, although the wreckage is at a depth of about 2,750 feet. It is unclear what caused the submarine to sink. Officials plan to recover the wreckage, but the depth of the water poses a significant challenge to that effort.

5. Applications for the Disaster Recovery Voluntary Housing Buyout Program (VHBP) from the Kilauea volcanic eruption of 2018 are now being accepted in the County of Hawaii. Properties eligible for the VHBP must have been inundated or isolated by lava flows, impacted by fires from lava, or affected by secondary impacts such as gases or heating. The Buyout Program is divided into three phases, with the first phase being for primary residence owners who were impacted by the 2018 eruption with a deadline to apply of July 30, 2021.

6. Evacuations were ordered for about 200 homes in Pine Lake, Arizona, as a wildfire continues to grow rapidly. Dubbed the Flag Fire, the blaze is burning in Mohave County, in the Hualapai Mountains, and has already scorched approximately 600 acres. Air attack units were able to make multiple water drops on the fire despite heavy smoke in the area.

7. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a recall of approximately 6,896 pounds of ready-to-eat beef and veal broth and stock products produced by More Than Gourmet, Inc. The product recall was issued due to possible extraneous materials the agency has allegedly identified as hydraulic oil. The company, based in Akron, Ohio, discovered an equipment malfunction, prompting the product recall.

8. The world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred in Pripyat, located in modern-day Ukraine, 35 years ago today. An experiment being conducted in the Unit 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear plant by Soviet Union technicians, rapidly spiraled out of control. It resulted in massive explosions that blew off the heavy metal lid of the reactor and sparked a fire in the graphite reactor. A full meltdown of the unit led to a massive release of radioactive material into the air, killed up to 50 people, and resulted in the evacuation of 1,599 square miles (1.023 million acres). The area remains abandoned today, although the plant operated in some capacity until 2000. A containment dome was built over Unit 4, and work continues at the site to remove spent fuel from the remaining reactors of Units 1, 2, and 3.


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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