AMU Emergency Management Original Public Safety

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Tropical Storm Eta Strengthens to a Category 1 Hurricane

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 11, 2020: The west coast of Florida is being inundated with strong storms and heavy rainfall from Hurricane Eta; some forest areas are reopening and all evacuation orders have been lifted for the Cameron Peak Fire; a burn and fire risk prompts the recall of 350,000 smart video doorbells; suppression costs to fight California wildfires in 2020 is estimated at nearly $700 million; another Houston police officer died after he was shot multiple times during a gun battle on a freeway; severe weather prompted tornado warnings and cut power to thousands in the Great Lakes Region; a recall has been issued for a single brand of Romaine Lettuce for potential E.coli contamination; and the NHC says a tropical wave over the Eastern Caribbean has 80 percent of formation by this weekend.

  1. The west coast of Florida is being slammed by strong storms and torrential rains being produced by [link url=”” title=”Eta, which was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday morning”]. The storm has sustained winds of 75 mph, with wind gusts of up to 85 mph, and is moving to the north-northeast at 10 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Eta is forecast to weaken over the next 24 hours, prior to making landfall, however, portions of [link url=”” title=”South Florida are likely to receive as much as 20 inches of rain from the storm”].
  2. Varying snowfall amounts across the [link url=”” title=”Cameron Peak Fire”] have significantly reduced fire activity. As a result, [link url=”” title=”all of the evacuation orders have been lifted”], and most of the select areas of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado are being reopened. Some personnel were pulled Monday from the fire for safety issues caused by adverse weather and dangerous road conditions, but returned to suppression repair work on Tuesday.
  3. [link url=”” title=”A recall has been issued by Ring for 350,000 of its smart video doorbells due to a fire and burn risk”]. The company received 85 complaints, among which 23 of the doorbells ignited and caused minor property damage, prompting the recall. According to Ring, improper installation–in which the unit is punctured–can lead to the product overheating, posing a burn and fire risk. Affected doorbells were sold from June to October nationwide at electronic and home goods stores, and online via Amazon and and consumers should contact the company or for new installations instructions.
  4. There are still 18 wildfires burning in California, however, with the cooler weather that has recently moved into the area, the fire threat has been reduced. According to [link url=”” title=”CalFire, there have been 9,177 wildfires that have burned a total of 4,194,148 acres”], and resulted in the deaths of 31 people, including firefighters and civilians. The fires have damaged or destroyed 10,488 structures, causing more than $10 billion in damages, with suppression costs [link url=”” title=”estimated at nearly $700 million–a number just slightly better than the 2019 suppression cost of $890 million”].
  5. A [link url=”” title=”Houston police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty”] on Monday while on his way to work at the airport. Sgt. Sean Rios sustained multiple gunshot wounds from the alleged gunman, Robert Soliz, 24, during a gun battle on the North Freeway. The suspect was arrested Tuesday afternoon during a traffic stop on the Katy Freeway, and [link url=”–suites-motel-north-freeway-motels-houston-shootings/7837806/” title=”police are still searching for a person of interest that was with Soliz around the time of the shooting”].
  6. [link url=”” title=”A band of severe weather moved through the Great Lakes Region, packing 70 mph wind gusts, heavy rain, and tornado watches and warnings”]. The severe weather [link url=”” title=”knocked out power to more than 25,000 people in the Chicago area”], and power remains cut to over 6,000 individuals in southeastern Wisconsin. [link url=”” title=”A tornado warning was also issued in southeastern Wisconsin”], and in western Racine County, the storm’s winds toppled trees, damaged homes, and sparked fires.
  7. A voluntary recall has been issued for Romaine Lettuce due to potential contamination with E. coli. The recalled lettuce was produced by [link url=”” title=”Tanimura and Antle, distributed to 20 states”], and applies only to the single head packages with a packed on date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020. Although the recall was issued, officials noted that due to the shelf life of the product, it is doubtful that any product can be found on retailer shelves. [link url=”” title=”Consumers should check their packaging to be certain it is not part of the recall”], and discard any product included in the recall.
  8. The [link url=”” title=”National Hurricane Center (NHC) has given a tropical wave that is over the Eastern Caribbean Sea an 80 percent chance of formation”] over the next 5 days. Although the storm is currently producing disorganized thunderstorms and showers, it is moving into favorable conditions where it is expected to develop into a tropical depression, likely by this weekend. As the storm moves westward, [link url=”″ title=”heavy rainfall, with possible flash flooding, is likely for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and portions of Hispaniola”] over the next 24 hours.

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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