Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 5, 2017: Heavy rains cause catastrophic flooding across the Midwest, Missouri flooding kills 5 as the massive weather system targets the East Coast, West Alton officials are urging residents to evacuate to higher ground as a levee is in danger of failing, the TSA issues a new security alert to trucking companies throughout the nation, a travel alert is issued by the U.S. State Department regarding Europe, an expert group is now in place to probe Syrian chemical attack, Minnesota considers mandatory isolation and quarantine orders as measles outbreak increases, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declares a public health emergency over opioid epidemic sweeping the state.
- Just in time for summer, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for Europe due to the continued threat of terrorist attacks across the region. A travel alert is issued to make citizens aware of short-term events or issues occurring in a country or region so they can be properly informed of all potential risks when planning travel. A travel warning is issued when the U.S. State Department “want(s) you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all.”
- A new security alert about potential terror attacks has been issued to the nation's trucking companies by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The alert warns companies of the threat of terrorists stealing trucks to use them in low-tech vehicle-ramming attacks with the intent to kill and cause excessive property damage. Thirteen of the known 17 vehicle ramming attacks since 2014 have resulted in fatalities that killed 173 people and injured more than 660 individuals. Majority of the fatalities occurred during just two of the vehicle-ramming attacks, one in Nice, France, and the second in Urumqi, China, which killed a combined total of 130 people.
- The number of measles cases in Minnesota rose to 41 on Thursday after state health officials announced seven new individuals infected with virus. The outbreak began in an unvaccinated Somali community in Hennepin County, but has spread to other individuals, including those already vaccinated, and is now in a new part of the state. The state estimates that approximately 2,500 residents have been exposed to the highly contagious disease and is considering a mandatory quarantine and isolation for exposed individuals refusing to avoid public locations.
- Heavy rains that began over the weekend and continued throughout the week in the Midwest have caused catastrophic flooding in portions of Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri and shut down major waterways used for transporting goods, including the Missouri River. About a five mile portion of the Mississippi River also closed on Tuesday due to high water levels that prevented boats and barges from being able to move under the Eads Bridge. The affected portion of the river is expected to remain closed until at least the weekend as upstream flood waters continue to move south. Schools, churches, day-cares, and businesses are closed across the area, and at least until Saturday, Amtrak train service operating in Missouri has also been suspended.
- As floodwaters ravaged the state of Missouri, five people were killed and at least 250 roads were closed, including about a 20 mile portion of Interstate 44 near St. Louis. Evacuation orders were issued for many communities, including Valley Park, Missouri, but officials believe those orders should be lifted on Friday. The heavy rains have moved to the eastern coast of the United States, where weather forecasters indicate that heavy rains, high winds, flash floods, and possibly even some wet snow are possible. The system is also creating conditions that can spawn tornadoes, so residents along the East Coast should maintain awareness of changing weather conditions.
- The possibility of a levee breach is concerning officials in the community of West Alton, Arkansas as floodwaters from the Mississippi threaten to cause a levee to overtop. Due to increasing floodwaters from the Mississippi River, the Consolidated North County Levee in northern St. Charles County is in danger of failing. To stay ahead of the threat, emergency officials urged residents on Thursday to evacuate voluntarily to ensure their continued safety. </li
- An expert team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations is in place to begin its investigation into the sarin gas attack in the Syrian province of Idlib on April 4. The group is expected to encounter intense scrutiny as they probe Syrian President Bashar Assad, thought to be responsible for the attack. The sarin gas attack on April 4 caused the deaths of dozens of individuals, majority of them women and children.
- On Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency due to the opioid epidemic that has swept across the state over the past four years. The declaration gives the state access to U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services monies of over $54 million that will help pay for prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Florida’s Surgeon General, Celeste Philip will also begin distributing the anti-overdose treatment Naloxone after being given the okay from Gov. Scott.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) May 5, 2017
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 3, 2017