Reader Jonathan Haber was kind enough to send me anÂ article in yesterday’s Washington PostÂ about how Montgomery County, Maryland’sÂ e-mail alert system didn’tÂ notify thousands of peopleÂ after aÂ major water main break, because the two employees who know how to operate the system were out of town. According toÂ the Post:
When those two employees couldn’t be reached, a third employee who was supposed to know how to run it said that he had never been trained, said Gordon Aoyagi, the homeland security director. A fourth employee who was found eight hours later knew how to operate it but failed to send out any alerts. Residents and businesses learned of the water problem primarily through the media.
“The system worked,” Aoyagi said. “We failed.”Â
The breakdownÂ underscored the importance of these email/text alerts in emergency situations, according to the article:
The delay in the county’s emergency notification system played out Monday morning, when many parents were left scrambling after their children’s day camps were cancelled and school buildings that house year-round child care centers closed for the day.
The e-mail system is the county’s primary method for contacting residents in emergencies without relying on radio or television.