Test day for the Emergency Alert System
Today, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) was put to the test across the nation. This means cable, TV and radio stations broke in to programming for about one minute to broadcast a series of tones and a test message.
The goal of the EAS test is to make sure the President can deliver a message to the American people within 10 minutes of a disaster, if needed. The last time the EAS was tested was November 2011.
The EAS is just one alert and warning tool included in the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). Other ways to communicate to the public in an emergency include: Outdoor warning sirens, emergency telephone notifications, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and NOAA Weather Radios.
Review a full list of IPAWS tools and resources.
Flooding prompts declaration of Peacetime State of Emergency
Governor Mark Dayton declared a Peacetime Emergency due to flooding around the metro and southern portions of Minnesota. Twenty-three counties are still dealing with damage following torrential rains which started on September 21 and resulted in widespread flooding. The Executive Order directs state agencies to provide the assistance necessary to help communities respond and recover. Response efforts are coordinated through the State Emergency Operations Center, which remains partially activated.
Counties in the Peacetime State of Emergency are: Anoka, Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Hennepin, Houston, Le Sueur, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Ramsey, Rice, Scott, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Washington, and Winona.
Read Governor Dayton's Executive Order.
Partial Activation of the State Emergency Operations Center
Minnesota’s State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated following the thunderstorms that dropped nearly ten inches of rain in parts of the state. Homeland Security and Emergency Management staff are in contact with local emergency managers to monitor flooding and storm damage reports. HSEM will respond to any requests for state assistance.
As of Thursday afternoon, some rivers in Southeastern Minnesota have risen six feet within the past 24 hours. There have been no reports of injuries or deaths, but the following counties have reported storm damages:
- Anoka: Street flooding in Fridley, Spring Lake Park High School grounds flooded.
- Blue Earth: 13 county roads closed, St. Clair protecting lift stations with pumps and sandbags.
- Freeborn: Six county roads closed due to flooding.
- Goodhue: State Highway 58 is closed as are other roadways in the county, Wanamingo is protecting its water treatment plant with pumps and sandbags.
- Hennepin: Street flooding was reported.
- Le Sueur: Elysian and Waterville authorities are sandbagging around critical infrastructure, two roads closed, Xcel Energy has sandbagged its Waterville facility.
- Ramsey: Street flooding was reported.
- Rice: Faribault has declared a local state of emergency and is sandbagging its water treatment facility, the dam near 2nd Avenue has crested, the Northfield Fire Department is using sandbags to protect its building, authorities have closed the bridge over the Cannon River, numerous roads are closed due to flooding.
- Waseca: New Richland has evacuated 44 residents from a long-term care facility due to flooding, floodwaters also damaged the Community Ice Arena, parks and school property, township roads have been washed-out.
- Washington: Street flooding and isolated wind damage was reported.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation encourages drivers to check for road closures and detours due to flooding. Additional storm damage reports are expected in the coming hours and days.
A first time for everything: WEA used for terror suspect search
Many Minnesotans have received Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for severe weather threats or maybe an Amber Alert. But earlier this month, that messaging system was used in a whole new way in New York. Authorities there sent out several WEAs to warn people of a bomb as well as the suspect who’s accused of planting the device. It’s believed to be the first time the nationwide WEA system was used as a “wanted poster” of sorts. The decision grabbed the attention of New York cell phone users along with public safety personnel nationwide.
Review how Minnesota uses WEAs as part of the Integrated Public Alert Warning System on our new DPS blog.