Category Archives: USA

US | CDC update on potential anthrax exposures

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has completed additional work to further define the risk of anthrax for employees potentially exposed because best safety practices were not followed in one of its laboratories in early June. 

Based on the results of some of this follow-up work, most of the impacted employees have been determined to have no increased risk of exposure as a result of this incident, and therefore are being advised that they no longer need to take antibiotics and vaccine to prevent inhalation anthrax.

Some Atlanta-based staff were being monitored and provided or prescribed antibiotics because they may have been unintentionally exposed to live anthrax bacteria after established safety practices were not followed during a laboratory procedure.

Although the investigation continues, early reports show that one of its Roybal campus biosafety level 3 (BSL3) labs was preparing B. anthracis samples for research in other CDC labs at lower biosafety levels to yield new means of detecting dangerous pathogens in environmental samples. However, the lab used a procedure that did not adequately inactivate the samples.

The potentially infectious samples were moved and used for experimentation in three CDC Roybal campus laboratories not equipped to handle live B. anthracis.  Workers, believing the samples were inactivated, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment while handling the material.

Lab safety investigators also determined that, sometime between June 6 and June 13, procedures used in two of the three labs may have aerosolized the spores.  Environmental sampling was done, lab and hallway areas were decontaminated and laboratories will be re-opened when safe to operate.

The unintentional exposure was discovered June 13 when the original bacterial plates were gathered for disposal and B. anthracis colonies (live bacteria) were found on the plates. These plates had appeared negative for B. anthracis at the time samples were distributed to the other CDC laboratories.  The review began immediately to assess the health risk, and those workers handling the plates were immediately notified.

This broad action was taken out of an abundance of caution, and the agency began immediate work to better determine employees’ potential risk by administering a detailed epidemiologic questionnaire to those believed to be affected to learn more about their whereabouts and their specific work during the time of potential exposure – June 6 to June 13.

In addition to the epidemiologic survey, CDC conducted environmental sampling of surfaces in the affected areas and also performed additional studies to learn if the bacterial samples might have been inactivated when they were taken out of the BSL 3 laboratory.   All of this work is being used to gain better information to advise employees about their need to take antibiotics to prevent anthrax.  None of the samples taken from laboratory surfaces in the potentially affected laboratories have been positive for anthrax.  Additional investigations on the procedure used to treat anthrax before it was transferred to lower-security laboratories have been reassuring, suggesting that while it is not impossible that viable anthrax was transferred out of the high-containment laboratory, it is extremely unlikely that this happened.

CDC officials have established two potential risk groups of individuals: staff who were potentially exposed to aerosols in affected laboratory space; and staff who were not potentially exposed to aerosols but were in or near affected laboratory space.  Employees in these groups are having one-on-one appointments with medical staff in CDC’s occupational health clinic who are reviewing all information with them and discussing the pros and cons of continuing post-exposure prophylaxis as part of shared decision making.  Other employees visited the CDC clinic and were determined not to be affected by the incident and therefore not included in one of the groups.  Twenty-nine individuals in group one are being advised to continue taking antibiotics out of an abundance of caution.  Thirty-three individuals taking antibiotics in group two are being advised that they can discontinue antibiotics.

CDC continues to respond to this incident.  The agency’s Associate Director for Science Dr. Harold Jaffe is leading an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.  He will submit a report to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden in early July.  In addition, CDC has reported the incident to the Federal Select Agent Program and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is conducting an independent investigation.  Based on these investigations, CDC will take appropriate action in the individual laboratory, as well as any actions indicated for all laboratories which work with dangerous microbes at CDC, and will consider broader implications for laboratory safety.

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US | NIH employees discover vials of smallpox in unused storage room in FDA lab in Bethesda MD

On July 1, 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notified the appropriate regulatory agency, the Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that employees discovered vials labeled ”variola,” commonly known as smallpox, in an unused portion of a storage room in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory located on the NIH Bethesda campus.

The laboratory was among those transferred from NIH to FDA in 1972, along with the responsibility for regulating biologic products. The FDA has operated laboratories located on the NIH campus since that time. Scientists discovered the vials while preparing for the laboratory’s move to the FDA’s main campus.

The vials appear to date from the 1950s. Upon discovery, the vials were immediately secured in a CDC-registered select agent containment laboratory in Bethesda.

There is no evidence that any of the vials labeled variola has been breached, and onsite biosafety personnel have not identified any infectious exposure risk to lab workers or the public.

Late on July 7, the vials were transported safely and securely with the assistance of federal and local law enforcement agencies to CDC’s high-containment facility in Atlanta. Overnight PCR testing done by CDC in the BSL-4 lab confirmed the presence of variola virus DNA.  Additional testing of the variola samples is under way to determine if the material in the vials is viable (i.e., can grow in tissue culture).  This testing could take up to 2 weeks.  After completion of this testing, the samples will be destroyed.

By international agreement, there are two official World Health Organization (WHO)-designated repositories for smallpox: CDC in Atlanta, Georgia and the State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Novosibirsk, Russia. The WHO oversees the inspection of these smallpox facilities and conducts periodic reviews to certify the repositories for safety and security.

CDC has notified WHO about the discovery, and WHO has been invited to participate in the investigation. If viable smallpox is present, WHO will be invited to witness the destruction of these smallpox materials, as has been the precedent for other cases where smallpox samples have been found outside of the two official repositories.

DSAT, in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is actively investigating the history of how these samples were originally prepared and subsequently stored in the FDA laboratory.

New York | LODD – FDNY Lieutenant Gordon M. Ambelas – L119

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro on July 6 announced the death of Lt. Gordon M. Ambelas, Ladder 119, a 14-year-veteran of the FDNY who died on July 5 from injuries sustained while attempting to save lives at a second-alarm fire in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Lt. Ambelas, 40, was searching for trapped occupants in a 19th floor apartment at 75 Wilson St., when the fire flashed over and trapped him in a bedroom. He was found unconscious by fellow firefighters who removed him from the apartment and attempted to resuscitate him, along with EMS personnel. He was transported in critical condition to Woodhull Medical Center, where he later died.

“New York has suffered a terrible and tragic loss tonight with the death of Lt. Gordon Ambelas, who heroically died trying to protect and save others—something he’s done for more than 14 years for the city,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We all mourn his loss, and I ask every New Yorker to keep Lieutenant Ambelas and his family in their thoughts and prayers.”

“We are deeply shocked and saddened at the loss of one of our own—a devoted, veteran firefighter who had an enormous love for his job and our mission to help and save others,” said Fire Commissioner Nigro.

Lt. Ambelas—who friends and colleagues called “Matt”—was appointed as a firefighter on Feb. 1, 2000. After graduating from Probationary Firefighter School, he was assigned to Ladder Company 81 on Staten Island. In January 2001, Firefighter Ambelas transferred to Engine Company 28 in lower Manhattan, where he spent one year before returning to Ladder Company 81. On Sept. 14, 2013, Firefighter Ambelas was promoted to Lt. and assigned to Battalion 28 in northern Brooklyn, where he worked in various firehouses as a “covering” lieutenant. He spent the past several months working in Ladder Company 119.

He and the members of Ladder Company 119 were recently honored by the community of Williamsburg for rescuing a 7-year-old boy who was trapped in a roll down gate on Skillman Street on May 8.

The fire officer is the 1,143rd firefighter to die in the line of duty since the FDNY’s founding in 1865. The last member of the Department to die while on duty was Lt. Richard Nappi, on Apr. 16, 2012.

Lt. Ambelas, who lived on Staten Island, is survived by his wife, Nanette, and their two children.

NC | Minor damage reported following Hurricane Arthur

The North Carolina Emergency Operations Center has transitioned into recovery operations as Hurricane Arthur travels north and well east of the mid-Atlantic coast after exiting North Carolina.

The state’s Emergency Operations Center has dropped to an activation level four with anticipation of returning to normal operations by this evening.

Hurricane Arthur cleared North Carolina waters this morning yet lingering effects will still be felt along the coast throughout the day. Rip currents remain a threat, and moderate storm surge effects continue in the sounds and rivers. Arthur’s center has passed well offshore of the mid-Atlantic coast; it will continue to weaken over the next 48 hours.

As of 1:30 p.m., more than 19,000 customers continue to be without power in the coastal counties, with the majority of customers impacted in Carteret County. Beaufort, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, New Hanover, Pamlico, Pender and Tyrell counties are under a State of Emergency. All shelters have closed.

“Details are still coming in about the amount of damage along the coast,” Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said. “The state will continue to work with its federal, state and local partners to assess the damage, provide resources and help with recovery efforts.”

“It will be a beautiful weekend so get out and enjoy our beaches,” Governor Pat McCrory said. “Hurricane Arthur produced heavy rains and strong winds, but we are fortunate to have seen minimal impact to our North Carolina’s coastal communities and beaches. We are thankful that our visitors and citizens were kept safe during this storm, and I urge continued caution to beachgoers in regard to the potential for strong rip currents in the days ahead.”

“The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has again shown great skill in preparing our citizens for a natural disaster,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner of Law Enforcement Greg Baker said. “North Carolina has developed a finely-tuned system to prepare, handle and recover from natural disasters like Hurricane Arthur. Special thanks go out to SERT representatives from the departments of Public Safety, Transportation, Health and Human Services and Agriculture, as well as the State Wildlife Division, Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Civil Air Patrol, the N.C. National Guard, the State Highway Patrol, Adult Correction, Swift Water Rescue teams and private sector partners.”

For more information about how to get ready for a hurricane and what to do during or after a storm, go to ReadyNC.org. You can also download the free ReadyNC app – available for both iPhone and android devices – which has real time weather, traffic and shelter information.

Maine | Recent spike in Fentanyl-related heroin overdoses

Based on communications with law enforcement and substance abuse professionals about a spate of overdoses this week, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is warning that a fatal mix of heroin, caffeine and fentanyl, and a new admixture called acetyl fentanyl, appear to be causing users to overdose more quickly than in cases of straight heroin.

The dangers of these chemicals cannot be underestimated or overstated.

Attorney General Mills and law enforcement officials are asking that friends, family members and professionals who come into contact with users be keenly aware of this problem, which has caused a number of deaths in other New England states in recent months, and refer people to the 24-hour statewide hotline at 888-568-1112 or to the State of Maine hotline at 2-1-1.

Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and can cause death very quickly, even in experienced users. Fentanyl analogs, such as acetyl fentanyl, are even more deadly. The mixture reportedly has caused 100 deaths around the country in recent months. Officials suspect that overdoses in Bangor, Lewiston and Saco this past week are linked to these new chemical combinations, and both fentanyl and fentanyl laced heroin have been seized recently around the state.

Signs of overdose include unconsciousness, loud snoring caused by respiratory distress and obvious signs of drug ingestion. Maine experienced 176 drug overdose deaths in 2013, according to the Maine Chief Medical Examiner, with an increasing number of those deaths attributable to heroin.

“People who are tempted to use drugs should understand that there is simply no safe batch, no safe dose, no safe amount of heroin that you should put into your body,” Mills stated. “Heroin alone or heroin laced with either fentanyl or acetyl fentanyl, or these drugs alone without heroin, can all be fatal,” Mills added. “Nobody should take a chance on any of these substances.”

DE | Through 2-1-1, govt and nonprofit agencies coordinating resources available to help residents cope with extreme heat events

To improve coordination of resources available to Delawareans who are vulnerable to the effects of heat extremes, a coalition of government and nonprofit agencies is working together to promote the availability of those services through Delaware 2-1-1.

Delaware residents who are vulnerable to extreme heat and are in need of services or supports – including seniors, people with disabilities and individuals with underlying medical conditions – are encouraged to call Delaware 2-1-1. Starting on Sunday, high temperatures are expected to be in the high 80s to low 90s all week.

The average temperature in Delaware has increased over the last 110-115 years, and the number of days with temperatures over 95 degrees and over 100 degrees is also increasing. That puts people who are vulnerable to those increased temperatures at greater risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, severe respiratory conditions and other heat-related illnesses.

“With the increasing frequency and duration of heat waves in Delaware, it’s important that we connect vulnerable residents with critical services,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “By using Delaware 2-1-1, government agencies at all levels – along with nonprofit organizations – can coordinate their efforts to better serve people in need.”

Among the services that Delaware 2-1-1 can refer eligible callers to:

  • Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which consists of Fuel Assistance, Crisis Assistance and the Summer Cooling Assistance Program. All programs are administered by DHSS’ Division of State Service Centers. Fuel Assistance and Crisis Assistance are managed on a contractual basis through Catholic Charities, Inc.; the Summer Cooling Assistance Program is managed by First State Community Action Agency in Kent and Sussex counties and by Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware in New Castle County.
  • Delaware Emergency Management Agency’s (DEMA) protocols for extreme heat.
  • City of Wilmington’s Free Electric Fan Program for seniors.
  • During extended periods of excessive heat, Sussex County will direct vulnerable residents to public libraries and/or other county facilities.

“Throughout the summer months – especially during extreme weather conditions – it is more crucial than ever for us to work together united as one community to ensure our neighbors are quickly guided to agencies, or faith-based organizations who can provide right support or services to meet their needs,” said Donna Snyder White, Director, Delaware 2-1-1.

“As a state, we need to be aware of the danger of extended heat waves,” said Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, medical director of DHSS’ Division of Public Health. “We ask that you have a plan if you lose power or are without air-conditioning and that you check on vulnerable family members and neighbors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat ranks among the top weather-related killers in the United States. Unfortunately, we already have confirmed the first heat-related death in Delaware this year.”

A 56-year-old Sussex County man, who died June 18, was this year’s first confirmed heat-related death in Delaware. In 2013, there were three confirmed heat-related deaths.

Tips to prevent heat illness:

  • Do not leave a child alone in a parked car, even for a minute. Call 911 if you see a child left unattended in a vehicle. Check in on seniors and individuals with disabilities to make sure they are OK. Carry water with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks containing sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. (Check with a doctor before increasing fluid intake if you have epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver disease, or if you are on a fluid-restrictive diet. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.) Visit www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html for more information.
  • Stay indoors on the lowest floor possible to avoid the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella. Use sunscreen. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself, and has been linked to skin cancer. Avoid extreme temperature changes. Be careful trying to cool down too quickly; a cold shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can lead to hypothermia, particularly for the elderly and children. In these cases, cool water is better than ice cold water.

Heed the following heat danger warning signs and take suggested actions:

  • Heat cramps occur in the muscles of the limbs or abdomen occurring during or after physical activity in high heat. Sweating results in loss of fluids and salts that cause muscle cramps. Address heat cramps by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water.
  • Heat exhaustion is more severe, occurring when a person is overheated along with reduced or unbalanced intake of fluids. Symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, weakness, clammy skin, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, rapid breathing, irritability and fainting. Take these simple steps to reduce heat exhaustion: Move the person indoors or into shade. Loosen or remove the person’s clothing. Encourage the heat exhaustion victim to eat and drink. Get the person to a cool shower or bath. Call your doctor for further advice.
  • Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself, and can be a life-threatening event. Prompt medical treatment is required. Symptoms include: flushed, hot and dry skin with no sweating; high body temperature (above 103 F, taken orally); severe, throbbing headache; weakness, dizziness, or confusion; sluggishness or fatigue; decreased responsiveness; and loss of consciousness. If heat stroke occurs, take these steps: Call 9-1-1 immediately. This is a medical emergency. Get the heat stroke victim indoors or into shade. Get the person into a cool shower or bath, or wipe them down with continually soaked cool washcloths while awaiting emergency responders.

For more info, visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.

AZ | Oak Fire crews prepping High Creek for contingency line

Due to rain, cooler temperatures, and high relative humidity, fire activity remains low. Crews in the Power’s Garden area will be pulling back, but cabins will remain wrapped with fire resistant material. Work areas will be combined and in the next few days resources will be downsized. Crews working on the southeast corner will continue to prep High Creek for a contingency line. Yesterday, no aerial water drops were conducted due to the amount of rain received. Crews will continue to be available for initial attack if lightning occurs in the region with forecasted thunderstorms.

In the coming days, the fire will continue to smolder and smoke may be seen. Crews will complete rehabilitation of containment lines while others will patrol the fire perimeter.

An Oak Fire information station has been set up at Walmart, 755 S. 20th Avenue in Safford.  It will be staffed Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Today will be the last day

Fire Summary:
• Location: Safford Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, Safford, Arizona
• Start Date:  6/17/2014
• Size:  13,920 acres
• Cause:  lightning

• Objectives: Provide for public, firefighter and aviation safety. Prevent fire from spreading to private lands and protect historic structures. Contain the fire within the National Forest boundary in the Galiuro Mountains. Manage this natural ignition fire to improve wildlife habitat; improve range and watershed conditions; and improve forest health. Minimize fire severity impacts to threatened and endangered species habitat (i.e. Chiricahua leopard frog, Mexican spotted owl). Maintain buffer zones adjacent to Chiricahua leopard frog habitat. Utilize Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST) when conducting fire management operations in the Wilderness.Work with media to provide the public timely and accurate information.
• Percent Contained:  25%
• Resources Assigned: Wildland Fire Module (skilled 8 person hand crew); 2 Hotshot crews; 2 Type 2 hand crews; 2 Engines; 6 Helicopters; air attack platform; single engine air tankers available, used as needed
• Closures:  The closures have been modified: The southern line of the closure area begins at the Forest boundary on High Creek Road (FS 159) at T10S, R21E, Sec. 17, SE and following this road to the High Creek Trail and thence west to Sunset Peak.  From Sunset Peak continuing west to Kielberg Peak and the Forest boundary at T10S, R19E, Sec. 9, SW.  The closed area is all National Forest System lands north of this line. This closure was enacted to allow firefighters unrestrained access and to protect the public.
• Fire Weather:  Weather conditions will be similar to yesterday with light northwesterly winds in the morning becoming westerly by the evening.  Isolated showers occurred last night and continued isolated afternoon thunderstorms are forecasted for today and tomorrow.  Strong and erratic gusty winds are possible near associated thunderstorms.
• Fire Behavior: With the seven day forecast calling for elevated humidity and chances of precipitation, the fire behavior will be decreased over the next several days. Nighttime humidity recovery is predicted to be very good as well. Fire behavior will stay subdued for the majority of the forecast period. When the sun hits the areas that have some heat remaining, there may be increases in activity for short periods in the late morning or early afternoon. Strong and gusty outflow winds could aid in the increase in activity in the afternoon as well.

 

In the coming days, the fire will continue to smolder and smoke may be seen. Crews will complete rehabilitation of containment lines while others will patrol the fire perimeter.

An Oak Fire information station has been set up at Walmart, 755 S. 20th Avenue in Safford.  It will be staffed Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Today will be the last day

Fire Summary:
• Location: Safford Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, Safford, Arizona
• Start Date:  6/17/2014
• Size:  13,920 acres
• Cause:  lightning

• Objectives: Provide for public, firefighter and aviation safety. Prevent fire from spreading to private lands and protect historic structures. Contain the fire within the National Forest boundary in the Galiuro Mountains. Manage this natural ignition fire to improve wildlife habitat; improve range and watershed conditions; and improve forest health. Minimize fire severity impacts to threatened and endangered species habitat (i.e. Chiricahua leopard frog, Mexican spotted owl). Maintain buffer zones adjacent to Chiricahua leopard frog habitat. Utilize Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST) when conducting fire management operations in the Wilderness.Work with media to provide the public timely and accurate information.
• Percent Contained:  25%
• Resources Assigned: Wildland Fire Module (skilled 8 person hand crew); 2 Hotshot crews; 2 Type 2 hand crews; 2 Engines; 6 Helicopters; air attack platform; single engine air tankers available, used as needed
• Closures:  The closures have been modified: The southern line of the closure area begins at the Forest boundary on High Creek Road (FS 159) at T10S, R21E, Sec. 17, SE and following this road to the High Creek Trail and thence west to Sunset Peak.  From Sunset Peak continuing west to Kielberg Peak and the Forest boundary at T10S, R19E, Sec. 9, SW.  The closed area is all National Forest System lands north of this line. This closure was enacted to allow firefighters unrestrained access and to protect the public.
• Fire Weather:  Weather conditions will be similar to yesterday with light northwesterly winds in the morning becoming westerly by the evening.  Isolated showers occurred last night and continued isolated afternoon thunderstorms are forecasted for today and tomorrow.  Strong and erratic gusty winds are possible near associated thunderstorms.
• Fire Behavior: With the seven day forecast calling for elevated humidity and chances of precipitation, the fire behavior will be decreased over the next several days. Nighttime humidity recovery is predicted to be very good as well. Fire behavior will stay subdued for the majority of the forecast period. When the sun hits the areas that have some heat remaining, there may be increases in activity for short periods in the late morning or early afternoon. Strong and gusty outflow winds could aid in the increase in activity in the afternoon as well.

– See more at: http://www.azein.gov/emergency-information/emergency-bulletin/oak-fire-crews-prepping-high-creek-contingency-line#sthash.l5PEfFwC.dpuf

MA | Hurricane Arthur – Flash flood emergency in New Bedford and Fairhaven areas

MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT
JULY 4, 2014 4:30 PM

Hurricane Arthur

· NWS Taunton has upgraded the Flash Flood Warning in the New Bedford and Fairhaven areas to a Flash Flood Emergency. 3 to over 5 inches of rain have fallen in these areas so far and a total of up to 10 inches of rain is possible through tonight. Widespread and serious flash flooding is expected, which may result in a serious and life-threatening situation.

Watches and Warnings

· A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Barnstable and Nantucket Counties.

· A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the waters off the eastern coasts of Nantucket and outer Cape.

· An Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory is in effect for Plymouth County until4:45PM.

· A Flash Flood Warning is in effect for Bristol County until 5:15PM and for Plymouth and Barnstable Counties until 6:00PM.

· A Flash Flood Watch is in effect until tonight for Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties.

MEMA Operations

· The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is operating at Level II (Partial Activation). MEMA staff along with representatives from MassDOT, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Massachusetts State Police are staffing the SEOC until at least midnight.

· MEMA will disseminate additional Situational Awareness Statements as needed.

Stay Informed

· For additional information and updated forecasts, see www.weather.gov/boston(National Weather Service Taunton), www.weather.gov/albany (National Weather Service Albany), www.nhc.noaa.gov (National Hurricane Center).

· Utilize Massachusetts Alerts to receive emergency notifications and information from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service. Massachusetts Alerts is powered by a free app (called ping4alerts!) that is available for Android and iPhones. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app (called Ping4Alerts!) onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

NC | New Hanover County declares state of emergency – Hurricane Arthur

The Emergency Operations Center in New Hanover County continues to operate in a limited activation. As of 1 p.m., the County has activated the Emergency Public Information Center to field calls from residents and visitors of New Hanover County.

The hotline is available and may be reached at (910) 798-6800. A Spanish translator is available for non-English speaking residents at (910) 798-6808.

New Hanover County and City of Wilmington has declared a State of Emergency effective at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 3 in advance of Hurricane Arthur. Hurricane Arthur is now a category 1 hurricane located 220 miles south-southwest of Wilmington.

Due to increased sustained winds, expected this afternoon, all New Hanover County and City of Wilmington government offices and attractions will close at 2 p.m. today.

The New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center remains in a limited activation working with local, state, federal and other community partners to track the storm. At this time, officials do not anticipate opening emergency shelters.

A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington says as of this morning, the New Hanover County area could see 40-45 mph peak sustained winds beginning this afternoon. Although all bridges remain open, travel is strongly discouraged during peak winds. Officials may choose to close the Snows Cut Bridge once sustained winds reach 45 mph. Information will be released if a bridge closure becomes necessary.

Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches can also be expected. Property owners should ensure drainage ditches are clear before the storm to help prevent flooding problems.

Given the current forecast, widely scattered power outages are possible across the Cape Fear coastal areas. Residents are encouraged to secure any loose items around the house such as lawn furniture, canopies, tents, etc.)

Preparation information can be found online at ReadyNC.org, or by downloading the ReadNC mobile application. The ReadyNC app is free and available now in the Apple AppStore and Google Play for Android devices.

Information and updates regarding government operations are being posted on NHCTV, online at http://emergency.nhcgov.com, and on social media. Follow @NewHanoverCo on Twitter and “Like” our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NewHanoverCo for the latest news and information.

NC | Carteret County opening shelters – Hurricane Warning

Carteret County will open a general population shelter at 12:00pm today located at Newport Middle School, 500 E Chatham St, Newport, NC 28570 and a special needs shelter at the Leon Mann Center 3820 Galantis Drive Morehead City, NC 28557.

Shelters are not intended to be used for the long term housing of persons and have not been stocked to provide this type of extended care Therefore, persons evacuating to one of the shelters should bring necessary food and personal care items for the next three (3) days.

Person with special needs include but are not limited to individuals who are bed-ridden, wheelchair bound, and/or needing 24 hour care with the assistance of a care-giver.

General population shelters should be utilized by individuals in flood prone areas and individuals in vulnerable housing. The Newport shelter is a pet friendly location with the following requirements; owners shall stay with their pet, all pets shall be crated, owners shall provide dry food and any necessary medications.

The public is urged to monitor the event by listening to a NOAA Weather Radio, local news channels, and by following Carteret County Emergency Services at www.facebook.com/CCES7