Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 2, 2021: The intense heat wave has moved over the majority of central Canada and prompted excessive heat and Red Flag Warnings; Lytton, British Columbia, was engulfed in a wildfire after enduring three record-breaking days of 121-degree Fahrenheit temperatures; Elsa becomes the first Atlantic hurricane for the 2021 season; VVoIP opens networks to increased danger from hackers; Oregon has recorded a total of 63 heat-related deaths from the heat wave; CISA released updated help to find funding for communications equipment for public safety organizations amid rapid technological changes; Air Quality Alerts were issued for parts of Oregon for California wildfire smoke; and ongoing threats increase challenges in securing the nation’s electrical grid amid adverse environmental conditions.

1. The heat dome that encompassed much of the western United States and Canada over the past week has now moved east. A large swath of central Canada is under an excessive heat warning, along with parts of Montana and Idaho. Red Flag Warnings are also in place until Friday at 9 p.m. for much of the northeast corner of Montana, parts of Idaho and South Dakota. Red Flag Warnings mean extreme conditions with a high chance for fire ignitions and rapid fire spread.

2. The excessive heat that has enveloped western Canada has sparked multiple wildfires in British Columbia. One of those wildfires has ravaged Lytton, the town that broke the highest recorded temperature for Canada three days in a row. An official evacuation order was issued about 15 minutes after smoke was observed; however, highways to the north and south were closed due to other wildfires. The fire killed at least two people and destroyed Lytton’s Main Street, including its medical and ambulance centers.

3. Elsa is now the first Atlantic hurricane of the 2021 season with wind speeds of 75 mph. The Category 1 storm is currently tracking to the west-northwest at 28 mph and is located about 95 miles east of St. Vincent. Residents living in the northern part of St. Vincent were urged to evacuate to shelters ahead of the storms’ approach due to the threat of flash flooding, mudslides and lahars from the La Soufriere volcano, which violently erupted in April.

4. Voice and Video over Internet Protocols (VVoIP) are tightly woven within the fabric of an organization’s IT system. These protocols increase the vulnerability of an organization to cyber attacks through covert access due to an enlarged footprint. System administrators are being urged to follow shared best practices and mitigations from the National Security Agency (NSA) when securing these call-processing systems.

5. Oregon is reporting a total of 63 heat-related deaths from the recent heat wave that gripped the state. The deaths were reported from six counties, with Multnomah County having the highest reported death toll at 45 people. The majority of the victims were aged 44-97, had underlying health conditions, and were found alone in their residences, many of which had no air conditioning and no fans.

6. For public safety responders, communication is a key and critical function during an incident. With the rapid evolution of technology and the need for reliable, secure, and interoperable communications systems, funding challenges are likely increasing for many public safety organizations. An updated resource is available to help public service agencies find funding sources amid these challenges, the Funding Mechanisms Guide for Public Safety Communications.

7. Smoke from large wildfires in Northern California has moved into Oregon and reduced air quality levels. Air Quality Alerts were issued for Klamath Falls and Lakeview for Friday due to heavy smoke from the Lava and Salt Fires. Smoke-filled air contains particulates that can irritate the eyes and lungs and can also worsen existing medical conditions such as asthma or lung disease.

8. The ongoing drought, coupled with the intense heat wave that gripped the West Coast of the United States, has increased concerns over power generation and the future of the nation’s electrical grid. Lack of water reduces the ability of hydro-power generating stations to produce power as larger, more intense drought-induced wildfires occur, straining the already critically low water levels required to produce energy. The extended heat wave also increased the demand for energy, even as energy supplies continue to decrease from the drought. As temperatures rise, wildfires increase, water supplies dwindle and energy demands escalate. Attention to protecting the critical infrastructure that sustains our country – including the nation’s electrical grid – is paramount for a secure future.


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