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EDM Wednesday Briefing: Tsunami Warnings Issued after 7.7 Earthquake

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 10, 2021: Alert levels have again been raised at the Semisopochnoi volcano in Alaska; multiple agencies in California are working to unify standards for home hardening to mitigate wildfire risk; police are asking the public for information on an individual who called in a bomb threat to a Walmart store; one person is dead and three people are in critical condition following a shooting at an urgent care facility in Minnesota; tsunami watches and warnings were issued following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near the Loyalty Islands; a federal investigation was launched after a remote attempt to poison the water supply in Oldsmar; rescue efforts continue in India following a glacier break that caused a massive debris flow; and at least 28 workers in an illegal factory in Morocco are dead after heavy rains caused a flash flood.

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1. Volcanologists in Alaska have now raised the Alert Level to Watch and the Aviation Color Code to Orange for the Semisopochnoi volcano. According to ongoing observations, it is believed that the volcano could erupt at any time and without warning. Small eruptions with minor ash deposits were observed via satellite, and ongoing seismic activity continues near the volcano, which is located in the Aleutian Islands.

2. Insurance companies continue to abandon high-risk wildfire markets in California or are raising rates so high that they are unaffordable by the majority of individuals. To address the issue, multiple agencies in California are working together to create a unified standard for home hardening to mitigate wildfire risk. The Department of Insurance and CalFire are just two of the agencies involved in the effort, and there is proof that mitigation works. At least half the homes built under fire-resistant building codes established in 2008 survived wildfires without damage, while only 18% of older homes went undamaged.

3. A bomb threat at a Walmart store in Greenville, South Carolina, on Tuesday morning turned out to be a hoax. Police used explosive detection dogs to help clear the store and the surrounding area of any suspicious items. Police are now asking anyone with information on the male caller who made the threat to contact their local authorities or Crime Stoppers.

4. A shooting at a medical clinic on Tuesday in Buffalo, Minnesota, left one person dead and three people in critical condition at area hospitals. Authorities were called to an active-shooter incident at the Allina Health Urgent Care-Buffalo Crossroads on Tuesday morning and found multiple victims and the suspect, whom they successfully apprehended. Officials noted that the suspect, Gregory Paul Ulrich, 67, has a known history with law enforcement. They believe the shooting was an isolated incident and not related to domestic terrorism.

5. A 7.7 magnitude earthquake southeast of the Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific, which occurred early Wednesday morning, has prompted tsunami watches. The U.S Tsunami Warning System, part of the National Weather Service (NWS), has issued a possible tsunami watch for Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan after the strong earthquake occurred. Hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu. The initial statement noted that an investigation into the tsunami threat was still ongoing and emergency management agencies should stay alert for further information.

6. A federal investigation was launched after someone remotely tried to poison the water supply in Oldsmar, Florida. A computer hacker breached the water plant computer system on Friday and gained control. The plant operator watched as the hacker controlled the computer, opened various screens and increased the level of sodium hydroxide, or lye — the main ingredient in drain cleaners —in the water system from 100 parts per million to 11,000 ppm, a toxic level.

7. Rescue efforts continue in India following a flood after a glacier broke off and unleashed a torrent of rocks, snow, and sediment into a narrow stream. The debris flow rushed downstream, hit two hydroelectric power plants, and trapped hundreds of workers in underground tunnels in Uttarakhand in northern India. So far, the death toll has reached 32, with approximately 170 people still missing.

8. A reported 28 garment workers in an illegal factory in Morocco are dead after floodwaters inundated the building. Heavy rainfall led to a flash flood in the basement at an illegal factory that was located in Tangier, where some 40 people were working. Officials noted that at least 10 people were rescued, but it is unknown exactly how many people were in the basement factory at the time of the incident.

 

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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