Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 8, 2020: Additional information may be required from Tennessee residents eligible for FEMA assistance in the wake of recent tornadoes; a chemical gas leak has killed at least 13 and injured hundreds of others in India; TEEX is offering an online course to assist with disaster finance and accounting; multiple airlines and Amtrak announce new mask requirements for travelers; a polar vortex is moving into the Northeast and New England on Friday with the potential for a late-season snowstorm; spring flooding led to widespread evacuations and damages in Fort McMurray, Alberta; NCEI has a new climatology tool to help track large-scale seasonal disasters; and the Fire Safety and Prevention grant application period with FEMA closes on May 29.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

1) Residents affected by the recent tornadoes in Tennessee who are eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance will be receiving a letter or an email with an explanation of the application process. Residents will likely be required to provide information such as proof of identity, ownership, insurance coverage and occupancy at time of disaster. An inspection of the home by FEMA to ensure it is safe, sanitary and functional may also be required in order to complete the application process.

2) A chemical gas leak in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India on Thursday has claimed the lives of at least 13 people and injured hundreds of others, many of whom are hospitalized. Communities in a more than three-mile radius have been evacuated due to the chemical gas leak at the LG Polymers Plant Building. According to reports, the leak began when the factory was being restarted after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

3) Recent disasters and the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 has left many local governments and businesses struggling financially. Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is offering an online e-learning course — open to everyone — to assist with the disaster finance and accounting. Developed by TEEX in response to confusion they saw with Hurricane Harvey, the Disaster Recovery Awareness course can be attended by simply going online and registering for the course.

4) As part of an ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many airlines are requiring passengers to wear masks while flying, including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, United, and JetBlue. Amtrak has announced that they, too, will require passengers traveling with them to wear masks. The new requirements take place on different dates, so it is important to check with each airline or Amtrak for when their mask-wearing requirement begins.

5) A polar vortex is set to descend upon the Northeast and New England this weekend — and could bring the area its first measurable snowfall in May in nearly two decades. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), temperatures will begin dropping on Friday, and snow could begin to move into the region by nightfall. The heaviest snowfall is likely to hit Vermont and New Hampshire, with potential accumulations of anywhere from six to 12 inches.

6) Spring flooding has devastated homes in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, an area hit by a massive wildfire in 2016, with damages forecast to exceed $100 million. Many homeowners lacked adequate flood insurance — if they had any at all — and the average cost of damages to individual homeowners has been estimated at around $120,000 per home. According to reports, residents and businesses are facing financial ruin unless the region qualifies for the province’s Disaster Recovery Program.

7) A new climatology tool is helping meteorologists track the long-term seasonal frequency of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the nation. Tracked by the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the new tool lets users investigate frequency trends with the help of visualization tools such as graphs and figures. This helps users see historical data that tracks which large-scale events occur, what time of year they occur and in what region.

8) Amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, local agencies are being reminded that the Fire Prevention and Safety grant period is now open. The Notice of Funding Opportunity is located on It is administered by FEMA, who is hosting a number of fire prevention and safety webinars on covering program costs, priorities and updates. The grant program supports projects that enhance firefighter and public safety from fires and their related hazards, and the deadline to apply is May 29.