Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 24, 2021: The success of the SolarWinds hack was in its ability to invade systems through routine processes; five members of ERCOT have resigned in the wake of the massive power outage in Texas; the latest eruption by Mount Etna amazes even seasoned volcanologists; El Abuelito Cheese issued a voluntary recall of Queso Fresco cheese products due to alleged Listeria monocytogenes contamination; two seismometers at Fukushima Daiichi NPP were not working during the recent 7.3 earthquake; a cliff collapse in Italy sends a landslide and at least 200 coffins into the sea below; a partial federal disaster declaration approval provides assistance to individuals in 77 Texas counties; and a teenage girl died after falling through ice at a park in Ohio.

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1. In a Senate hearing, CEOs from FireEye and SolarWinds, along with the president of Microsoft, stated that the SolarWinds hack was allegedly perpetrated by at least 1,000 capable, skilled engineers. The success of the SolarWinds hack was largely due to the ability of hackers to invade systems through routine processes. The hackers were also able to view Microsoft’s closely guarded source code for user authentication of its programs, and the full depth of the hack is still unknown.

2. The Public Utility Commission announced that five members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have resigned. The resignations come in the wake of the massive power outage across Texas after its recent winter storm brought snow, ice and frigid temperatures that gripped the state for almost a week. At one point, at least 4.5 million people across the state were without power. None of the board members who resigned lived in Texas, and an investigation into the disastrous outage is underway.

3. In another spectacular eruption that lasted nearly three hours, lava was sent almost a half mile into the sky by Mount Etna in Sicily. It was the 5th eruption of Italy’s most active volcano in just one week, and was stronger and more violent than previous eruptions. The volcano also spewed ash and steam at least 6.2 miles—32,700 feet—into the air, and the Aviation Color Code remains at Red.

4. El Abuelito Cheese, Inc., has recalled 47 of its products that may potentially be contaminated with listeria. The recall spans seven states and includes all Queso Fresco products with a sell-by date of 3/28/2021 that were distributed to supermarkets, wholesalers, and retail stores under three brand names, through February 26. Seven people across four states in which the products were distributed, have been hospitalized due to listeria infection, although no one has died.

5. Risk management improvements at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan are now being questioned after the areas most recent strong earthquake. Reportedly, two seismometers monitoring the Unit 3 Reactor—the reactor that melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami—were not working when the recent quake struck. New damage from the recent 7.3 earthquake included cooling water and pressure levels that fell in Units 1 and 3 which, along with the non-working seismometers, were revealed in a meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday.

6. A cliff collapse along the sea near Genoa, Italy, had an unexpected outcome. The landslide dumped more than two hundred coffins from the Camogli Cemetery into the sea. Workers noticed fissures in the ground and quickly closed the cemetery. A short time later, the cliff wall collapsed, sending the coffins into the Ligurian sea. Only 10 of the coffins had been recovered by Tuesday; however, the local port authority blocked the coastal area to prevent the coffins from drifting further into the sea.

7. After a partial approval of a federal disaster declaration by the President, residents in 77 of Texas’ 247 counties are now eligible for assistance. Although a disaster declaration was approved, it only included individual assistance for 77 counties, with the remaining counties receiving only public assistance. Public assistance helps repair or replace public facilities or infrastructure damaged during the disaster, but does not help individuals who sustained losses.

8. A teenage boy and girl fell through the ice in Rocky Fork Lake Park outside Cincinnati, Ohio, late Tuesday. The teen girl was trapped under the ice for four hours, was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. The teen boy was able to escape the ice and was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. During the attempted rescue, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer (ODNR) suffered a medical emergency, was taken to the hospital, and was pronounced dead.