AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Funding Deficit Left Congo Residents Vulnerable

Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 26, 2021: Funding cuts prevented advance warning to Congo residents before the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo; toxic gases and smoke from still-cooling lava contributed to the increased death toll after the Mount Nyiragongo eruption; northeast Colorado had a total of 16 confirmed tornadoes over the past weekend; the FDA announced a recall of a single lot of Natural Balance dry cat food; PG&E is set to perform training exercises on Thursday and Friday in Tuolumne County and the Stanislaus National Forest; the Aviation Alert Level is now Red following an eruption of the Great Sitkin volcano in Alaska; DHS plans to issue regulations on cybersecurity for the nation’s pipelines; and NOAA’s SPC shows an increased risk for severe weather today and tonight in the Central Plains.

1. Funding cuts prevented officials from warning residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before Mount Nyiragongo violently erupted on Saturday night. The loss of funding and support left the observatory without internet service and unable to monitor the volcano. Some operations had resumed in April after the observatory received new funding from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. The funding will now be used to gather post-eruption data.

2. The death toll from the eruption of Mount Nyriagongo in the DRC has risen to at least 32 people. Some of those deaths occurred from people inhaling toxic gases and smoke while walking across the lava, prompting officials to warn residents to avoid the lava fields. Authorities are also urging anyone in the area to use caution, as the volcano remains active with signs of unrest, including seismic activity.

3. A total of 16 confirmed tornadoes were reported over the weekend in northeast Colorado. The National Weather Service (NWS) was unable to rate 14 of the tornadoes since they touched down in open fields and caused little to no damage. The remaining two tornadoes were both rated EF-1s, with winds of 86 to 100 mph. They caused little damage, with only two power lines toppled.

4. The Food and Drug Administration announced a recall for one lot of L.I.D. Natural Balance Dry Cat Food. A single lot of the Limited Ingredient Diets Green Pea and Chicken Dry Cat Food was recalled, with a best if used by date of March 10, 2022. The food was packaged in five- and 10-pound bags and distributed nationwide to stores and sold online.

5. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is set to conduct training for future Public Service Power Shutoffs (PSPS) on Thursday and Friday. The training is to occur in Tuolumne County, California, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and residents should be prepared to both see and hear helicopters flying overhead during this time. The helicopters will also be flying over the Stanislaus National Forest, and ground crews will also take part in the training exercise.

6. Alert levels were changed multiple times at the Great Sitkin volcano in Alaska after activity led to a brief eruption late Tuesday. The eruption sent an ash cloud to about 15,000 feet ASL, and it also prompted a change in the alert level to Warning and the Aviation Color Code to Red. Part of the Andreanof Island group in the Central Aleutian Islands, Great Sitkin is a basaltic andesite volcano that lies about 26 miles to the east of the community of Adak, Alaska.

7. The Colonial Pipeline hack shut down fuel supplies along the East Coast and affected a portion of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Due to the threat, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now moving to regulate cybersecurity for the pipeline industry. Rules and regulations that determine reporting by pipeline companies of cyber attacks, along with safeguards to prevent attacks, will be issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division within DHS.

8. A regional outbreak of severe weather is on tap today and tonight for the Central Plains in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center (NOAA SPC) noted that intense, damaging winds accompanied by very large hail are likely to occur with these severe storms. According to the SPC, the greatest threat of tornadoes for the region lies between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.


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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