How California and Western States Should Shift Their Fire Prevention Strategy

(TNS) - When the phone rang at 4:50 a.m. Thursday, I woke up on high alert. No one calls that early with good news.

When I saw the caller ID said “CSUN Emergency,” my heart started racing. My youngest son, Cameron, attends California State University-Northridge. High alert shifted to dread.

It turned out the call was just to inform us that CSUN was canceling classes that day due to poor air quality and transportation issues stemming from the massive Southern California wildfires. What a relief. But there was no chance I would go back to sleep without finding out how close the fires were to CSUN’s dorms and what the strategy was for putting the fires out.

Oroville Dam Repairs Concern Calif. Residents

Construction of a new spillway at the Oroville Dam in northern California—the largest dam in the U.S.—is underway and is expected to be completed sometime in 2018, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The dam replaces the previous spillway, which was damaged by heavy flooding in February.

Problems at the Oroville Dam began, when the dam’s main sluice was damaged after a winter season of record rain and snowfall, following five years of drought. Torrential rainfall caused water levels to rise so quickly that large amounts needed to be released to prevent the dam from rupturing and sending a wall of water to the communities below.

Researchers say federal flood risk data ‘severely underestimates’ real risk

Research conducted by a team of U.S-U.K. scientists and engineers shows federal flood maps underestimate at-risk Americans by more than 27 million people.

The group is called Fathom, and they presented their research at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Meeting on Dec. 11 — research they say fills in “vast amounts of missing information” in current federal flood risk assessments.

The role of EAPs in the wake of natural disasters

When tragedy strikes, a quick response is critical. And that includes organizations with employees impacted by the situation.

Experiences with recent and ongoing examples, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires in the western U.S., and a number of other natural disasters, demonstrate the need to act fast, which requires having a plan in place before something happens.

Do Your Records Put Your Business at Risk?

When it comes to record management and customer notifications, the legal requirements for businesses are vastly different from state-to-state. Take for example California, where businesses are required by law to immediately notify a state resident if his or her personal information has been acquired by an unauthorized user. Most states have similar laws. In Alabama, however, there is no state law requiring a business to notify customers of a data breach.

But only doing the bare minimum of what is legally required can still leave your business vulnerable to reputational harm, loss of customers and disruption of business processes that may prove catastrophic in the long run. Ask yourself this: If it were your data stolen, would you want or even expect to be notified?

How the Internet of Things Can Prepare Cities for Natural Disasters

When a disaster strikes, federal, state, and local governments need a coordinated strategy, accessible data, and a skilled workforce to manage the response. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods have devastating effects on communities across our country. Since 1980 the U.S. has sustained more than 200 weather and climate disasters, with cumulative costs exceeding $1.1 trillion.

Government agencies should consider leveraging the internet of things (IoT) and other web-driven technologies to obtain timely and accurate data that can better inform decisions and actions. Using the most current technology could help them more efficiently and safely address these costly disasters. However, this type of progress will require more than just employing the IoT to improve emergency preparedness and response; response teams have to be ready to receive, interpret, and take action on the data.

California Dept. of Insurance issues formal notice about wildfire claims

In the aftermath of the Northern California wildfires, on Nov. 20, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones directed the California Department of Insurance to issue a formal notice to insurers, licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.

The guidance continues to be important as Southern Californians deal with wildfires in the Los Angeles area.

How A Dry Spell Allowed Winds to Lash California With Flames

The hot, dry Santa Ana winds whipping up the unseasonably fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California have come at the worst time, at the end of a long dry spell.

The combination of savage Santa Anas and tinder-dry plants have ignited large wildfires in the region this week, upending lives at a time when many people were preparing for the winter holidays, officials said.

It served as a reminder that parts of California increasingly face a year-round threat of flames.

“There is no fire season anymore,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLain, adding that this was particularly true in Southern California.

Los Angeles 405 Freeway closes in rush hour as wildfires spread

(Bloomberg) -- A major commuter artery in Los Angeles closed Wednesday morning and some of the city’s wealthiest estates, including Rupert Murdoch’s Moraga vineyard, were ordered evacuated as Southern California firefighters battled several wind-fanned wildfires.

Stretches of Interstate 405 were shut and neighborhoods near the freeway and Mulholland Drive, including parts of Bel-Air, were being evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Residents were warned by text messages.

Los Angeles Wildfires Close Roads, Threaten Crops, Force Evacuations

Wildfires raging across Southern California have shut a major commuter artery in Los Angeles, suspended filming, wiped out more than $3 billion of market value for regional utility Edison International and are threatening some of the state’s lucrative crops.

Stretches of Interstate 405, which feeds major Los Angeles job centers, were shut as flames engulfed nearby mountainsides. Neighborhoods near the freeway and the famed Mulholland Drive, including parts of upscale Bel-Air, were evacuated. Snap Inc. shut operations, and a major conference on microcap stocks that was scheduled to be held in Los Angeles through Thursday was canceled. Ventura County, home to a third of California’s avocado acreage, has seen tens of thousands of acres consumed, and citrus growers have been affected.


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