Category Archives: Preparedness Info

Outbreak Reported In Madagascar

Compliments of OutBreak News Today 

In early December 2016, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Madagascar alerted WHO of a suspected plague outbreak in Befotaka district, Atsimo Atsinanana region in the south-eastern part of the country. The district is outside the area known to be endemic area in Madagascar. No plague cases have been reported in this area since 1950.

Bipolar staining of a plague smear prepared from lymph aspirated from an adenopathic lymph node, or bubo, of a plague patient./CDC
Bipolar staining of a plague smear prepared from lymph aspirated from an adenopathic lymph node, or bubo, of a plague patient./CDC

As of 27 December 2016, 62 cases (6 confirmed, 5 probable, 51 suspected) including 26 deaths (case fatality rate of 42%) have been reported in two adjacent districts in two neighboring regions of the country. 28 cases, including 10 deaths have been reported from Befotaka District in Atsimo-Atsinanana Region and 34 cases including 16 deaths have been reported from Iakora district in Ihorombe Region.

Of the 11 samples tested, 5 were positive for plague on rapid diagnostic test and 6 are now confirmed at Institut Pasteur laboratory. Of the total reported cases, 5 are classified as pneumonic plague cases and the remaining as bubonic plague.

Retrospective investigations carried out in those two districts showed that it is possible that the outbreak might have started in mid-August 2016. The investigation in neighboring villages is still ongoing. On 29 December, an investigation carried out within 25 km of the initial foci in Befotaka district has reported three deaths and is being investigated further for possible linkage to the outbreak.

The affected zone is located in a very remote and hard to reach and highly insecure area (classified as red zone due to local banditry). Despite arrangements made with the local authorities, insecurity slows down the investigations and response activities. In addition, a helicopter has been made available but its use has been limited due to bad weather and financial limitations.

A 15 member multidisciplinary team from MoH, Institute Pasteur including public health professional, epidemiologist, entomologist and laboratory professional visited the affected area for epidemiological investigation and response activities.

Key response activities already implemented include:

  • Epidemiological investigations including active case finding and rapid diagnostic testing
  • Training of community health workers on community-based surveillance and early detection of cases
  • Clinical Management of suspected cases
  • Identification, follow up and chemoprophylaxis of contacts
  • Vector and reservoir control through the use of Kartman boxes
  • Sensitization of the population
  • Strengthening the community based surveillance
  • Free treatment of other diagnosed disease such as malaria
  • Strengthening early detection in neighbouring districts
  • Laboratory confirmation

Based on the available information to date, the risk of international spread appears unlikely, especially as it is occurring in very remote area. However, the difficulty to reach the affected area hampered prompt investigation and therefore at this stage the real magnitude of the outbreak is still to be defined and the risk of further spread in the area and sustained transmission cannot be formally ruled out. WHO continues supporting ongoing investigation and response activities.

FEMA Working with Federal Partners to Support States and Tribes

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FEMA Working with Federal Partners to Support States and Tribes

Seeking Assistance due to Hurricane Matthew Impacts

October 8, 2016

FEMA is working with its federal partners at the Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta, as well as the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to help coordinate any requests for assistance from the affected states and tribes as a result of impacts from Hurricane Matthew. These centers bring together partners from the federal family to closely coordinate federal resources that may be requested from the affected state and tribal governments.

As Hurricane Matthew continues to move through the southeast, FEMA is encouraging coastal and inland residents to monitor weather conditions and follow the directions of state, tribal, and local officials in the impacted area. If residents are evacuating, continue to listen to the directions of state, tribal, and local officials before returning home.

According to the National Weather Service, hurricane and tropical storm conditions will continue along coastal Georgia and South Carolina today and spread northward toward coastal North Carolina later today intotonight. Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches near and east of Interstate 95 in South Carolina and North Carolina, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches Matthew is expected to produce 2 to 6 inches of rain over central South Carolina, western North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia. Significant flooding is expected over portions of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia into the weekend as a result of the combination of both storm surge/tidal flooding and freshwater/rainfall.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. There is danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida northeast coast, Georgia and South Carolina coasts, and portions of the North Carolina coast. The depth of water could reach 6 to 9 feet above normally dry ground during times of high tide from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, to Edisto Beach, South Carolina, including part of the St. Johns River, which is already experiencing flooding.

FEMA has ten Urban Search & Rescue teams on the ground to support anticipated search and rescue efforts as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Two teams are in Florida, four teams are in South Carolina, three teams are in Georgia, and one team is in North Carolina. Three additional teams are scheduled to arrive in Georgia today.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are on the ground in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. These teams are in place to support preparation and anticipated response activities, and ensure there are no unmet needs. Additional teams from around the country are ready to deploy to affected states and tribes as necessary.

As of this morning, 6 FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) are deployed to help federal, state, local and tribal partners gather detailed information on the affected communities during the critical days and weeks. DSATs will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-the-spot needs assessments, requests for disability related accommodations and access to partners offering survivor services.

As of this morning, more than 680 FEMA staff (including DSATs and IMATs) are deployed to impacted states in support of response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Matthew.

In support of the response to Hurricane Matthew, FEMA has made available more than 1,427,000 meals, more than 958,000 liters of water, and more than 48,000 blankets for state, tribal, and local officials to distribute to individuals.  These points of distribution are centralized locations established by state or local officials where supplies are delivered. The public travels to the site to pick up commodities following a disaster or emergency.

As of this morning, FEMA made available more than 71,000 meals and 341,000 liters of water to the state and tribes in Florida; more than 535,000 meals, more than 617,000 liters of water, and more than 17,000 blankets to the state and tribes in Georgia; more than 570,000 meals and more than 26,000 blankets to the state and tribes in North Carolina; and more than 250,000 meals and 4,500 blankets to the state and tribes in South Carolina.

Incident Support Bases (ISB) are staffed and operational in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. ISBs are established to pre-position commodities and resources closer to potentially affected areas. Additional supplies continue to arrive from FEMA’s distribution centers around the country.

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Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and equipment are in the Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina ISBs, including five Mobile Communications Office Vehicles (MCOV) in Fort Bragg, and two in Albany, to assist states and tribes with secure and non-secure voice, video and information services to support emergency response communications needs. Additionally, there are 3 MCOVs in Florida to support state and tribal governments with communications needs.

Shelters are open across the affected areas. Download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

Use internet websites like Facebook or Twitter to let friends and family know you’re safe or to inquire about your loved ones. Register with the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well website (www.redcross.org/safeandwell) to let family know you are safe or looking for loved ones.

To report a missing child, please contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-866-908-9570. Anyone who finds an unaccompanied child who may have been separated from his/her parents or caregivers because of the hurricane can enter basic information and/or a photo into the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Unaccompanied Minors Registry (UMR): http://umr.missingkids.org or call1-866-908-9570.

As images of Hurricane Matthew’s impact make their way around the country, and you want to help those impacted, contact your local volunteer organization to help with requests for volunteers, cash, food, clothing and blood donations.

Any individuals on the ground in the impacted areas looking to help or assist with response and recovery efforts should contact their American Red Cross chapter or their local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) chapter to connect to many organizations working on the ground that are in need of volunteers. To get in touch with the local VOAD currently in affected areas, visit

 

Emergency Declarations for States and Tribes

  • Governor Rick Scott of Florida submitted a request for an expedited Major Disaster declaration, on October 7, 2016, for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, for Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Nassau, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Volusia counties and Hazard Mitigation statewide as a result of Hurricane Matthew. The request is currently under review.
  • On October 7, 2016, President Obama declared an emergency for 56 counties in the State of Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s impact, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to prepare for, and to respond to the incident.
  • On October 6, 2016, President Obama declared an emergency for 28 counties in the State of Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s impact, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to prepare for, and to respond to the incident.
  • On October 6, 2016, President Obama declared an emergency for 30 counties in the State of Georgia in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s impact, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to prepare for, and to respond to the incident.                     
  • On October 6, 2016, President Obama declared an emergency for all 46 counties, and the Catawba Indian Nation in the State of South Carolina in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew’s impact, authorizing FEMA to support the state in its efforts to prepare for, and to respond to the incident.
  • These pre-disaster emergency declarations make Direct Federal Assistance available to save lives and protect property.

 

Federal/Private Sector Coordination Efforts

  • The American Red Cross has shelters open throughout Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. These shelters include accommodations for those with medical, and/or access and functional needs.
  • S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service has approved the early release of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for October and November in the 28 counties that received the federal emergency declaration in Florida.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is prepared to conduct Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in the affected areas to aid with damage assessments.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) deployed storm surge sensors and rapid deployment gauges to potentially affected areas and continues to monitor riverine flooding.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring and inspecting dams operated by the Army Corps as well as non-federal dams that are being requested to be inspected by state partners and/or by FEMA. Additionally, temporary Roofing Subject Matter Experts are deployed to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to provide Technical Assistance to states and tribes.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assess and advise the status of ports along the storm’s path.
  • The S. Department of Health and Human Services deployed eight Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, two National Veterinary Response Teams, a Public Health System Deployment Force team, disaster mortuary assessment personnel and an Incident Response Coordination Team.
  • National Park Service (NPS) personnel are currently staged at Ft. Bragg, NC including three water rescue teams to assist with search and rescue efforts.
  • The National Business Emergency Operations Center is coordinating with affected states and tribes to work with private sector companies, preparing for landfall and coordinating on evacuation orders, potential transportation impacts, and access/re-entry permits ahead of the storm.

 

Safety and Preparedness Tips

  • With extensive loss of power across the impacted areas, FEMA reminds residents
    • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
    • Be especially careful during a loss of electrical power, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire increases at that time.
    • Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open.
    • Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner’s manual and follow the instructions.
    • If using candles, please use caution. If possible, use flashlights instead. If you must use candles, do not burn them on or near anything that can catch fire.
    • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • Residents and visitors throughout at risk areas in the southeast, including inland areas, are urged to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information, and follow the instructions of state, local, and tribal officials.
  • Hurricane Matthew is producing life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge. This serves as a reminder for residents in areas at-risk of being affected by this storm to refresh their emergency kits and review family plans. If you do not have an emergency kit or family plan, to learn about steps you can take now to prepare your family for severe weather, visit gov.
  • Those in impacted areas should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for their pets before the storm affects your area. If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
  • Individuals should visit Ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms or hurricanes.
  • Businesses of all sizes should prepare for all hazards including severe weather to prevent loss of life, property, or disruption to operations.
    • Review and update your business continuity plan and ensure your workforce knows what to do during severe weather. Resources are available on web sites such as gov/business and the Sba.gov/disaster-planning.
    • Encourage your employees to update their family emergency plan to stay connected during severe weather while at work and develop alternate methods of communication.
  • Hurricane Matthew is producing dangerous flooding. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you encounter flood waters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued:
  • For a hurricane:
    • A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
    • A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
  • For a tropical storm:
    • A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
    • A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
  • For flooding:
    • A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.
    • A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.                                                                                                              

Flood Insurance

If you have flood insurance, there are additional steps you can take to be prepared before the storm affects your area:

  • Safeguard your possessions
    • Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
    • A copy of your insurance policies with your agent contact information.
    • A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.
    • Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
  • Prepare your house
    • First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. If you already have a battery backup, install fresh batteries. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
    • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts. Clear storm drains in the street or near your home of leaves and debris.:
    • Move electronics, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
    • Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store them on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
    • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
    • If you incur expenses due to protecting your home in preparation for coming storms and flooding – such as purchasing sandbags – you may be able to file a claim against your NFIP flood policy for reimbursement. Call your insurance agent to discuss your coverage and learn more.
    • If your community is flooded, and your property or home has suffered flood damage, you will be asked to provide a list and photographs of items that were damaged. If possible, take time before the storm to make a list of items in your home, including their age and value, and photos of these items. Should your home experience flood damage, this information will help your adjustor to calculate the value of the damage and prepare a repair estimate.

If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.

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Download the FEMA App to locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema,www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities atwww.twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only.  FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications. 

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

 

Hurricane Matthew FEMA Advisory

NOTE:  DOWNLOAD THE FEMA APP TO STAY INFORMED AT:  https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app

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Intergovernmental Affairs Advisory

FEMA Working with Federal Partners to Coordinate Potential Requests for Assistance

FEMA is working with its federal partners at the Regional Response Coordination Centers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, as well as the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC to help coordinate any requests for assistance from states affected by Hurricane Matthew. These centers bring together partners from the federal family to closely coordinate federal resources that may be requested from the affected state and tribal governments

Evacuations for coastal counties in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are in effect. FEMA encourages residents to listen to the directions of state, tribal, and local officials in their area. If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait, evacuate.

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According to the National Weather Service, hurricane conditions (winds 74 mph or greater) are expected to first reach the east coast of Florida between Golden Beach to Fernandina Beach by this evening, and will spread northward along the Florida coast overnight into Friday. Tropical storm conditions are first expected on the east coast of Florida late this morning.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  There is a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida east coast from Deerfield Beach to Altamaha Sound. The depth of water could reach 3 to 5 feet above ground level during times of high tide.

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Matthew is expected to produce total rainfall of 4 to 8 inches with isolated amounts up to 12 inches along coastal eastern Florida, today and Friday. Heavy rain is expected to move north into coastal Georgia and South Carolina, possibly North Carolina, Friday into the weekend.

FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are deployed to emergency operations centers (EOC) in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. These teams are in place to support preparation activities and ensure there are no unmet needs. Additional teams from around the country are ready to deploy to affected states and tribes as necessary.

A FEMA liaison is co-located at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to assist the state’s response to Hurricane Matthew.

Incident Support Bases (ISB) are staffed and operational in Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. ISBs are established to pre-position commodities and resources closer to potentially affected areas. As of this morning, there were more than 255,000 liters of water, more than 441,000 meals, more than 8,000 blankets, and more than 3,500 cots at the ISB in Ft. Bragg. Additionally, there are more than 189,000 liters of water, more than 72,700 meals, and more than 17,100 cots are at the ISB in Albany, Georgia.

Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and equipment are in the Albany, Georgia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina ISBs to support the state with secure and non-secure voice, video and information services to support emergency response communications needs.

FEMA established a Federal Staging Area (FSA) in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. As of this morning more than 137,000 meals and 193,000 liters of water are en route to the FSA. More than 600 cots and 1,200 gallons of fuel are available at the FSA for the state. FSAs are established to pre-position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed and requested by states. State and local officials are responsible for distributing supplies to the community.

Shelters are beginning to open across the potentially impacted states. Download the FEMA mobile app for shelter information, disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips, in English and in Spanish. The app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly. FEMA is encouraging coastal residents to monitor weather conditions and take steps to prepare.

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State Requests for Assistance

  • Governor Rick Scott of Florida submitted a request for a federal pre-disaster emergency declaration, on October 5, 2016, for 28 counties in anticipation of potential storm surge, strong winds, and rainfall beginning on October 4, 2016. The request is currently under review. The Governor is asking for unmet emergency needs through Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) through Category B Emergency Protective measures. Such DFA may include, but is not limited to, personnel, equipment, supplies, and evacuation assistance.
  • Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina submitted a request for a federal pre-disaster emergency declaration, on October 4, 2016, for 66 counties in anticipation of potential storm surge, strong winds, and rainfall beginning on October 4, 2016. The request is currently under review. The Governor is asking for unmet emergency needs through Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) through Category B Emergency Protective measures. Such DFA may include, but is not limited to, personnel, equipment, supplies, and evacuation assistance.
  • Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina submitted a request for a federal pre-disaster emergency declaration, on October 4, 2016, for all counties in anticipation of potential storm surge, strong winds, and rainfall beginning on October 4, 2016. The request is currently under review. The Governor is asking for unmet emergency needs through Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) through Category B Emergency Protective measures. Such DFA may include, but is not limited to, personnel, equipment, supplies, and evacuation assistance.

Federal Coordination Efforts

  • The U.S. Coast Guard continues to assess and advise the status of ports along the storm’s path. Port Canaveral, West Palm Beach, and Miami, Florida ports are closed.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring and inspecting dams operated by the Army Corps as well as non-federal dams that are being requested to be inspected by state partners and/or by FEMA.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has prepositioned Emergency Medical specialists in Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) in Georgia to assist potentially affected communities.

rescue-teams-continue-to-to-evacuate-people-from-their-homes-after-storm-desmond-caused-flooding

Safety and Preparedness Tips

  • Residents and visitors from Florida through the mid-Atlantic in potentially at risk areas, including inland areas, are urged to monitor local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information, and follow the instructions of state, local, and tribal officials.   If the storm is expected to affect your area, know your evacuation zone and follow the direction of local or tribal officials if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
  • Hurricane Matthew has potential for life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge. This serves as a reminder for residents in areas at-risk to be affected by this storm to refresh their emergency kits and review family plans. If you do not have an emergency kit or family plan, or to learn about steps you can take now to prepare your family for severe weather, visit ready.gov.
  • Those in potentially affected areas should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for their pets. If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
  • Individuals should visit www.Ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn these and other preparedness tips for tropical storms or hurricanes.
  • Businesses of all sizes should prepare for all hazards including severe weather to prevent loss of life, property, or disruption to operations.
    • Review and update your business continuity plan and ensure your workforce knows what to do during severe weather. Resources are available on web sites such as Ready.gov/businessand the Sba.gov/disaster-planning.
    • Encourage your employees to update their family emergency plan to stay connected during severe weather while at work and develop alternate methods of communication.
  • There is the potential for flooding with this storm. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • If you encounter flood waters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.
  • Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued:

For a hurricane:

  • A Hurricane Watch is issued when a tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 74 MPH poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

For a tropical storm:

  • A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
  • A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.

For flooding:

  • A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding.
  • A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.                                                                                                              

Flood Insurance

 

If you have flood insurance, there are additional steps you can take to be prepared before the storm:

  • Safeguard your possessions

o   Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

o   A copy of your insurance policies with your agent contact information.

o   A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.

o   Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.

Prepare your house

  • First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. If you already have a battery backup, install fresh batteries. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts. Clear storm drains in the street or near your home of leaves and debris.
  • Move electronics, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
  • Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store them on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
  • If you incur expenses due to protecting your home in preparation for coming storms and flooding – such as purchasing sandbags – you may be able to file a claim against your NFIP flood policy for reimbursement. Call your insurance agent to discuss your coverage and learn more.
  • If your community is flooded, and your property or home has suffered flood damage, you will be asked to provide a list and photographs of items that were damaged. If possible, take time before the storm to make a list of items in your home, including their age and value, and photos of these items. Should your home experience flood damage, this information will help your adjustor to calculate the value of the damage and prepare a repair estimate.

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If you have any questions, please contact FEMA’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or atFEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.

 

Download the FEMA App to locate and get directions to open shelters across the state, and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema andwww.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.The social media links provided are for reference only.  FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications. 

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

French Church Attack

Compliments of BBC

The two attackers, who said they were from the so-called Islamic State (IS), slit Fr Jacques Hamel’s throat during a morning Mass, officials say.

Police later surrounded the church, in St-Etienne-du-Rouvray, and shot dead both hostage-takers.

One of the hostages is in a critical condition in hospital.

President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene, said the attackers had committed a “cowardly assassination” and France would fight IS “by all means”.

Pope Francis decried the “pain and horror of this absurd violence”.

One attacker is reported to have been known to French police, and had tried to enter Syria last year.

Police special forces raided a house in Saint-Etienne-du-Rovray in the aftermath of the attack, and French prosecutors earlier said one person had been arrested.

The attack happened during morning Mass at the historic church, situated in a quiet square of St-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

One nun who witnessed the attack, told BFM TV that the men forced Fr Hamel to his knees and recorded the killing, speaking Arabic as they did so. She says she fled as they were preparing to kill him.

Elite police units, specialised in hostage-taking, surrounded the church.

President Hollande said the attackers claimed to be from the self-styled IS before they were killed by police as they came out of the church.

Three of the hostages were freed unharmed, but one remains in a critical condition, said French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet

Read More

Canadian Government Will Begin To Call Civilians Mentioned On Leaked Isis Kill List

Compliments of CBC 

There are 151 Canadians about to get an uncomfortable phone call from police.

It may go something like this: “It’s probably nothing, but … your name appears to be on an ISIS kill list.”

Imagine getting that call. Imagine being the constable assigned to make it.

CBC has obtained a copy of the list, which contains the names, and email and physical addresses of some 8,300 people around the globe. It’s hard to tell what unites them.

The Canadian names are mostly of women, from predominantly small centres in Canada, although there are some from large cities, too.

Names not hand-picked

ISIS Canadians 20160310

The names and contact information for 151 Canadians were found on an ISIS ‘kill list.’ (Canadian Press)

There are lots of theories as to how the names got on the list. What seems clear is they weren’t hand-picked. These don’t appear to be people targeted for who they are or what they have said or done. It doesn’t even seem like the names were entered manually. Some appear multiple times.

In analyzing the Canadian data, CBC has learned that most email addresses (71 per cent) appear to have been hacked at some point, either in an old LinkedIn hack or one from Myspace or Adobe. It is possible the information from those hacks was simply pushed around from group to group. Some of the information may exist in the public domain.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) says it first uncovered the list on pro-ISIS accounts from social media platforms like Telegram.

MEMRI’s Elliot Zwig says the first call was to police.

“It’s a large list, it would be difficult to follow through on them, but it’s something that we’ve shared with law enforcement and they’re taking seriously and presumably are proceeding upon,” he said. “We know the right places to go, the right accounts to link up with, the right people to contact, the right forums to be present in, it came to us, it wasn’t something that was overly difficult to find.”

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Active Shooter: Four Killed, Six Wounded in Shooting Attack at Tel Aviv Shopping Center read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.723941

Compliments of Haaretz

Four people were killed and six others were wounded in a shooting attack at a food and shopping center in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, after two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on passersby. Netanyahu called a security briefing in Tel Aviv.
All of the wounded were evacuated to nearby hospitals. One of the shooters was captured by police and taken in for questioning, and the other was taken to Ichilov Hospital in serious but stable condition.

Five of wounded have been evacuated to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital and another was taken to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. Three are in moderate condition after they underwent surgery and two are in light condition. The casualty at Sheba is in moderate condition.

Police said they had no prior knowledge of the two Palestinian attackers, who entered Israel illegally. Palestinian sources said the attackers were members of the same family and are from the Hebron area.
The attack took place at Sarona Market, an upscale food and retail center located opposite to the military headquarters in central Tel Aviv and near government buildings. Police said they received a call at 9:30 P.M. regarding shootings heard at Sarona. As emergency forces were making their way to the scene, there was another of a shooting incident at near the food and shopping center.
According to initial reports, two armed men dressed in suits opened fire at passersby near the Benedict restaurant. A shooter then reportedly opened fire at the nearby Ha’arbaa Street, where he was eventually captured by police.

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Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control after city evacuated

Compliments of CBC

A huge wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., destroyed an entire neighbourhood and burned homes and businesses in several others Tuesday, and continues to rage out of control.

By late afternoon, the entire city of 60,000 had been ordered evacuated. Residents by the thousands fled the fire and for hours caused gridlock on Highway 63, even overwhelming oilsands work camps, where beds and meals were offered. Police were patrolling the highway with cans of gas, after fuel supplies ran out in Fort McMurray, Wandering River and Grasslands.

Fire chief Darby Allen said the entire neighbourhood of Beacon Hill “appears to have been lost” and the fire burned many homes in other parts of the city.

No buildings were lost in the city’s downtown area, Allen said. Despite the devastation, there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

As of 10:30 p.m. MT, officials reported the neighbourhoods of Abasand, Wood Buffalo, Dickensfield, and Waterways saw only some damage.

No estimates were available on the number of homes and businesses that were destroyed.

Witnesses reported the Flying-J gas station exploded, while the Super 8 Motel and a Denny’s restaurant were gutted.

Officials said about 17,000 residents escaped the city to the north, while another 35,000 drove south, at least half that number headed for Edmonton, 430 kilometres away.

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Porter Ranch Gas Leak Permanently Capped

Compliments of L.A. Times 

State officials on Thursday announced that the leaking natural gas well in Porter Ranch that spewed plumes of methane and other compounds into the atmosphere has been sealed.

“We have good news. The Division of Oil and Gas has confirmed that the leak in the Aliso Canyon storage field is permanently sealed,” Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of the state Department of Conservation, said at a news conference at a Southern California Gas Co. office in Chatsworth.

The news put an end to four months of foul air that sickened many residents and forced thousands of people to relocate to temporary housing far from the leaking well. Crewsreached the leak last week and injected heavy fluids and then cement to seal it.

Dennis Arriola, president and chief executive of Southern California Gas, said the company would develop a plan to mitigate the damage the leaking well did to the environment and will support “forward-looking” regulations.

“To the residents of Porter Ranch and the surrounding communities, I want to tell you I recognize the disruption that this gas leak has caused to your lives,” Arriola said. “I know there is nothing that I can say that will change the past, but I know that measurable actions actually speak louder than words.”

The company said in a statement that the leaking well had been taken out of service. A local assistance center that will help residents and businesses recover from the leak will open Friday morning at the Mason Recreation Center in Chatsworth.

Residents who moved out of their homes were notified by phone, text and email Thursday morning that they have eight days to vacate their temporary housing that the gas company has been paying for. By early Thursday, residents of 1,800 households had returned to their homes, said Gillian Wright, vice president of customer service for the utility.

An estimated 4,000 reimbursement checks were to be issued on Thursday to residents who incurred expenses related to the gas leak, she said.

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Common Species of Mosquito May Be Carrying Zika Virus.

By Ophelia Eden

Scientists believe the virus is now being carried by a more common species of mosquito. A confined species of mosquito called the Aedes Aegypt mosquito (who primarily are confined to the tropics) was thought to be the sole carrier of the virus.

However, new data from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Recife, Pernambuco State, suggests a more common species called the Culex mosquito may also be transmitting the virus. The Zika virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. In some cases the virus can also cause Guillain Barre syndrome, a disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system, or microcephaly ( a condition where children are born with abnormally small heads) in babies who were carried by infected mothers.

The ratio of Culex mosquitoes to the Aedes species is over 20 times. Culex Mosquitoes can be found in the Americas, parts of Africa, and parts of Asia. Increasing the chances of a worldwide outbreak. At this time there is no known vaccine or cure for the virus, however scientists are stepping up the efforts to develop one.

Source: Sky News 

Obama Prepares to Use Executive Powers on Gun Control

Compliments of SBS

President Barack Obama says he will meet US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss ways of reducing gun violence amid reports he intends to take executive action on the issue.

Obama, in his weekly recorded address on Friday, said he has received “too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing.”

He has repeatedly urged Congress to tighten gun laws, with his calls growing louder following the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and again this year after mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California.

“A few months ago, I directed my team at the White House to look into any new actions I can take to help reduce gun violence,” Obama said in the address. “And on Monday, I’ll meet with our attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to discuss our options.”

The Washington Post, citing several individuals briefed on the matter, said Obama and Lynch would “finalise a set of executive actions on guns that he will unveil next week.”

Frustrated with little action from Congress, Obama has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to put in place gun control measures through executive action, which does not require congressional approval.

“We know that we can’t stop every act of violence,” Obama said. “But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to protect our kids from gun violence?”

The Post said Obama would use his executive authority in several areas, including expanding new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume dealers.

“Change, as always, is going to take all of us,” said Obama, who is on vacation with his family in Hawaii.

“The gun lobby is loud and well organised in its defence of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organised in our defence of our kids.”

On Thursday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama was aware Congress was unlikely to act on gun reform.

“That is why he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there’s any additional action we can take administratively,” Schultz said.

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