Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 6, 2021: Officials in Escambia County are seeking funding sources to repair Willowbrook Dam; the FDA announces an urgent recall of pet food manufactured by Midwestern Pet Foods; the SolarWinds hack was likely more extensive than initially reported; the CPSC has announced a recall of infant and toddler rompers and swimsuits from Target; two rare tornadoes touched down in California on Monday; an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease has allegedly killed one in Multnomah County; evacuations were ordered for residents in danger from the Red Gully Bushfire in Australia; and New Jersey and Pennsylvania received more tornado watches in 2020 than Kansas and Arkansas.
1) Hurricane Sally swept through Escambia County, Florida, in September, and severely damaged the newly completed Willowbrook Dam. During the hurricane, water overtopped the dam and washed out dirt and grass on the top and sides of the dam, which supported the structure. Now, officials are seeking funding sources to help with the repairs of Willowbrook Dam and to possibly improve its design.
2) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a recall for pet food due to potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin. Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc., is recalling multiple brands of both its dog and cat Sportmix products, which have allegedly been the cause of at least 28 pet deaths and another eight pet illnesses. According to the recall notice, the food was distributed to online retailers and stores nationwide. The FDA is urging anyone who has the food to stop feeding it immediately and to disinfect all food bowls, scoops, and other items that came in contact with the food.
3) According to reports, the SolarWinds hack was more involved and dangerous than previously thought. Allegedly, the hack compromised at least 18,000 government and private networks, which gave the hackers access to user IDs, passwords, financial records, source codes, and other sensitive and private information. The threat level prompted the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue an update on December 30 to its Emergency Directive (ED) dated December 18, 2020. The update required an upgrade of government systems to the new version of SolarWinds Orion to prevent the upload of malware within 24 hours or the systems had to be taken offline.
4) The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a recall of 480,000 units of clothing for infants and toddlers. According to the recall notice, the clothing is being recalled because the snaps break or detach from the clothing, which poses choking or laceration hazards to infants or toddlers. The recall includes rompers and swimsuits — which were manufactured in China and Vietnam — and sold at Target stores nationwide, online at Target.com, GoogleExpress.com, and Shipt.com.
5) Severe weather moved into California during Sunday and into Monday, spawning two tornadoes. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that two tornadoes touched down in Northern California, in Tehama County, including one spotted in Vina. The other tornado touched down in west Corning, damaging a barn, tree and power lines.
6) An apartment complex in Multnomah County, Oregon, has had an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease. The North Portland apartment complex outbreak has sickened at least four people, one of whom has died. County health officials ordered people to leave the complex after at least 100 people developed pneumonia, which can be caused by the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria was traced to the building’s plumbing system.
7) An evacuation order was issued for some residents in Australia due to the Red Gully Bushfire. The bushfire (wildfire) began about 62 miles north of Perth on January 2, and it has already scorched at least 4,900 acres. The fire is spreading to the west-northwest at a rate of about 2 mph, and its active fire behavior is challenging firefighting crews who are working to protect nearby communities.
8) The year 2020 delivered an unprecedented number of named hurricanes, along with other severe weather, including record-setting rainfalls and flooding. Weather events in 2020 also produced more tornado watches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania than in Kansas, with the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) issuing a total of 147 watches across the country. Normally, Kansas and Nebraska receive the majority of the watches. However, a majority of those watches were issued during the severe weather produced by Tropical Storm Isaias from the Mount Holly, New Jersey National Weather Service office covering New Jersey, Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania and portions of northeastern Maryland.