AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: 4 High Schools Receive Social Media Threats

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 3, 2021: Four schools were threatened in California via social media; major companies warn against the potential December shutdown of a St. Louis-area natural gas pipeline; Tastykake cupcakes are recalled for potential foreign matter contamination; a reduction in volcanic tremors and larger-scale earthquakes was observed on La Palma; PG&E is being investigated for its role in the Dixie Fire; Rockford University was locked down Tuesday after the school received a threat of violence; Alaska was impacted by the atmospheric river with record precipitation and flooding; and as winter weather fast approaches, residents need to ensure they are prepared to protect their homes, themselves, and their families in the event of extended power outages or other adverse events.

1. Two schools were locked down on Tuesday in San Luis Obispo (SLO) County, California, after threats were made on social media. The threat appeared to be linked to at least one of two high schools in Santa Barbara County that were also threatened. The all-clear was given for the SLO County schools at around 11 a.m. Both Santa Barbara County Schools, located in Orcutt, were searched and the threat deemed unsubstantiated. These four high schools join a number of other high schools across the country that, over the last several weeks, have received some type of threat via phone or social media, which prompted either an evacuation or lockdown.

2. A natural gas pipeline that serves the greater St. Louis, Missouri region, may be shut down in December. A judge ruled that the need for the STL Pipeline, operated by utility company Spire, was never fully determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Major corporations throughout the region are denouncing the pipeline shutoff, noting that it will significantly impact area businesses including manufacturing and production companies, by decreasing available supplies, reducing output, and potentially impacting tens of thousands of workers.

3. Flowers Foods, Inc., has issued a voluntary recall of its multi-pack cupcakes due to potential foreign matter contamination. The products are sold under the brand name of Tastykake and are being recalled because they may contain tiny fragments of metal mesh wire. According to the recall notice, several varieties are involved and were distributed to retailers in eight locations: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

4. Volcanic tremors at the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands were reduced to about half on Tuesday. This change seems to correlate with a reduction in larger-scale earthquakes, and reduced magma effusion in the southern margins of the lava flow field was also observed on Tuesday. The reduced tremors appeared to have no impact on ash emissions, which remained intense at the main crater. On Wednesday, a 5.1 magnitude quake struck at a shallow depth of just about 16 miles beneath the island, the strongest recorded since the eruption began.

5. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was issued a subpoena for its records in relation to the Dixie Fire, according to an announcement that was made just days after the wildfire was declared fully contained. The Dixie Fire consumed nearly one million acres, destroyed over 1,300 structures, and decimated the historic town of Greenville, California. The fire cost an estimated $637 million to fight, and PG&E has already admitted that a tree fell on power lines and started a fire in the area where the Dixie Fire ignited.

6. A threat of violence put Rockford University on lockdown Tuesday morning. The threat was sent directly to the school, located in Rockford, Illinois, prompting the university to lock down while the Rockford Police Department investigated the threat. The all-clear was later given, and classes and services resumed at 2 p.m., although it is unknown if the threat was substantiated.

7. The atmospheric river that began in California and moved across the nation – bringing high winds and dumping copious amounts of precipitation on areas in its path – has also affected Alaska. The state has seen heavy snowfalls in higher terrains, along with unprecedented rainfall that has led to flooding south of Anchorage. The historic rainfall led to a record 9.53 inches of rain in a single day in Alyeska, located on the Kenai Peninsula, on October 31. Girdwood saw its greatest impact from area floodwaters after a culvert failed, washing out access to critical infrastructure and exposing sewer and natural gas pipelines. Flooding also damaged area roads and washed out several railroad tracks in Girdwood.

8. This week is Winter Weather Preparedness Week. As the 2021 winter season fast approaches, citizens across the nation need to be prepared in the event of extended power outages or other adverse events due to winter weather. Ready.gov notes that residents need to ensure they are prepared and how to protect their homes, including how to prevent pipes from freezing during a prolonged power outage. Other preparedness efforts include having enough water, food, medications, pet food and other supplies for several days in the event of an extended power outage. Officials also recommend that drivers have an emergency kit with warm clothes, blankets, nonperishable snacks, water, jumper cables, sand, and flashlights in their vehicles should the vehicle become stuck or stranded.

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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