AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: PSPS Likely Across Northern California Counties

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 14, 2020: Widespread flash flooding in Cambodia has killed at least 16, displaced thousands, and destroyed crops; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun lowering water levels in Lake Lanier for dam repairs; SoCal Edison equipment may have sparked the Bobcat Fire in Shasta County; PG&E has issued an PSPS Outage Watch for Northern California counties due to critical fire weather; Kimberly-Clark has issued a recall for its Cottonelle Flushable Wipes; St. Louis and surrounding areas are under a Red Flag Warning Wednesday afternoon due to critical fire weather conditions; CalFire reports that the Zogg Fire, which killed four people, is now fully contained; and a windstorm in the Inland Northwest sparked widespread power outages in the Spokane area.

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1) A tropical storm that triggered widespread flash floods in Cambodia has forced the evacuation of at least 10,000 people. The floodwaters affected 14 of 25 provinces across the nation, destroying thousands of acres of rice and other crops, damaging homes and schools, closing roads, and leaving bridges unstable. Heavy rains so far in October, have resulted in the deaths of 16 people. Two additional tropical storms are forecast to hit the country in the next few days, which could further devastate the region.

2) On October, 1, water levels in Lake Lanier began being lowered to prepare for needed dam repairs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the water level reduction will be gradual; however, heavy rainfall from remnants of Hurricane Delta increased water levels to 1,074 feet — three feet above what is considered full for the lake. Once the water level has been reduced to 1,069 feet, repairs to the Buford Dam will take approximately three weeks.

3) SoCal Edison has revealed that tree branches hitting their equipment may have sparked the Bobcat Fire in California, which began near the Cogswell Dam. The utility reported an incident with its equipment in the same general grid area where the fire ignited on September 6. However, area cameras also noted smoke in the same location prior to the grid incident. The Bobcat Fire has scorched nearly 115,800 acres, injured six people, destroyed 170 structures — including 87 homes. It is now 92% contained.

4) PG&E has issued a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Outage Watch, indicating that shutoffs are likely in Northern California, where Red Flag Warnings are in effect until Friday. Reportedly, about 54,000 customers across 24 counties across Northern California could have their power shut off beginning Wednesday evening due to weather conditions that create high-risk fire conditions. The shutoffs are likely to continue until at least Thursday for some locations, while other areas will see the shutoffs remain in place until at least Friday morning. PG&E encourages residents to visit the PSPS website to learn more about the shutoffs and to determine if their location will be impacted by the PSPS.

5) Kimberly-Clark has issued a voluntary recall for two kinds of its Cottonelle Flushable Wipes due to potential bacteria contamination. The recall was issued for specific lots of Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and Cottonelle GentlePlus Flushable Wipes produced between February 7 and September 14 and distributed within the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. To assist consumers, the company has provided a specific link to check lot numbers to see if they are involved in the recall.

6) Parts of Missouri, including much of the St. Louis Area, are under a Red Flag Warning due to critical fire weather conditions. Low humidity, a lack of rainfall in the area and an extended dry pattern have prompted the warning from the National Weather Service (NWS). The warning is in place from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Winds are expected to be in excess of 15 mph, with gusts likely to exceed 30 mph, possibly igniting fires that would rapidly spread.

7) According to CalFire, the Zogg Fire, burning in Shasta County, was fully contained on the evening of October 13. The fire, which was active for 16 days, killed four civilians, injured one firefighter, scorched approximately 56,338 acres and destroyed 204 structures. The cause of the wildfire remains under investigation, and firefighters will continue to patrol the area in the coming days to ensure containment lines remain intact.

8) High winds downed trees and power lines — including one that sparked a fire — across the Spokane area on Tuesday, which caused widespread power outages. Wind speeds of about 46 mph and gusts of up to 62 mph were reported in Spokane, with other area locations reporting gusts of around 50 mph. A total of about 10,500 customers were without power after the peak of the windstorm went through by 5:15 p.m. Power utilities noted that once the wind storm passed, assessments would be made and power would be restored as quickly as possible.


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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