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AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Large Landslide in Norway Injures 10

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 30, 2020: A large landslide destroyed homes and injured residents in Ask, Norway; an investigation is underway in Aspen after vandals targeted natural gas lines; the FDA has announced an expanded recall for an oral rinse due to potential bacterial contamination; critical infrastructure vulnerabilities revealed during the Nashville bombing prompt a call for resiliency and redundancy; CalFire announces CZU lightning complex fire is fully extinguished after four months; eruptions continue in the west vent of the Kilauea Volcano as seismic and SO2 levels remain stable; wildfire smoke likely contains bioaerosols which impact human health; and Colorado seeks a Presidential disaster declaration after its historic wildfire season.

1) A large landslide occurred early Wednesday in the town of Ask, Norway, and injured 10 people, including at least one critically, and cut power to hundreds of area residents. Emergency responders evacuated at least 200 people and more than two dozen houses were destroyed, and it is currently unknown if anyone has been reported missing. A massive response is underway, including local police, emergency services, helicopters, the military, the Red Cross and geologists who are currently assessing the situation.  

2) A multi-jurisdictional investigation is underway after vandals damaged natural gas lines in Aspen, Colorado. The damage to the Black Hills Energy system cut natural gas supplies to at least 3,500 customers in the area on Monday, leaving them without heat.  The company reports that Black Hills energy technicians needed to individually turn off, purge, and pressure-test the gas meters, and residents were being asked not to re-ignite any appliances on their own.

3) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced an expanded recall for an oral mouth rinse due to alleged bacterial contamination. GUM Paroex Chlorhexidine Gluconate Oral Rinse, manufactured by Sunstar Americas, Inc. (SAI), in Schaumburg, Illinois, is distributed nationwide and is available by prescription only. Patients are being urged to discontinue use of the oral rinse immediately, as there have allegedly been 29 instances of infection. Immunocompromised individuals using this product are at particularly high risk.  

4) The Nashville bombing revealed multiple vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, much of which is in the hands of private companies over which local governments have no control. The loss of the AT&T hub for internet and cell communications impacted much of Tennessee and parts of Georgia and Kentucky. After the bomb went off, the AT&T building caught fire, water flooded the basement, and generators meant to be a fail-safe backup were inundated with water and rendered useless. 

5) Four months after it began, the CZU Lightning Complex has been fully extinguished. The fire complex, which began in August with a series of lightning strikes in Santa Cruz County, became the county’s most destructive fire in history. The wildfire complex claimed the life of one person, destroyed 1,490 structures and scorched 87,000 acres. According to CalFire, fire suppression activities have been mitigated and the wildfire is not in danger of reigniting.

6) The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) has noted that the lava lake level at the Kilauea Volcano is estimated to be about 591 feet. The summit crater lake is full of lava from the recent vent eruptions, which continue to erupt in two or three narrow channels at the west vent, but remain contained within the Halemaumau Crater. Seismic activity remains elevated, as do SO2 emissions. However, both remain stable.  

7) A new report indicates that wildfire smoke likely contains bioaerosols — fungal and bacterial cells — which are recognized to impact the health of humans. According to reports, the secondary impacts from prolonged exposure to wildfire smoke are often overlooked, some of which may include infection to upper and lower respiratory tracts. Researchers now say that the death toll from wildfires is actually much higher when the impacts of smoke inhalation are considered, although calculating the actual number is likely to be challenging.  

8) Colorado is seeking a disaster declaration from President Trump due to the state’s destructive wildfire season. Five of the state’s largest wildfires in history occurred in 2020, including the East Troublesome Fire, the Grizzly Creek Fire, and the Cameron Peak Fire — the largest wildfire in state history. The wildfires prompted thousands of evacuations and destroyed homes and businesses. It also caused widespread, significant infrastructure damage and threatened air and water quality for millions.  

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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