As most of us are now on the other side of Hurricane Irene, we want to ask everyone what recovery controls worked, which didn’t and which were new for your organization or your town. For example, the local fire departments around my area (Northwest CT) are offering charging stations for citizens to use for devices such as cell phones, laptops and so forth. This service is a big boost to telework programs which depend on the workforce having power from their home or distributed location.
Also, it seems that emergency/mass notification services (EMNS) were used extensively to alert the population of storm status: NYC through NotifyNYC and NYC-OEM sent regular pre- and post- alerts regarding the event, I received voicemails or emails from my local CT town management, Connecticut Light & Power, and JPMorganChase alerting me about disaster preparedness status and steps to take if I needed assistance.
Another new feature was the use of texting: If one texted the name “Irene” to 501-01, National Grid would text regular updates on electrical power restoration status to your cell phone. This feature definitely was not around back in the days of Hurricane Gloria (1985) or Bob (1991) and was quite useful since over 500K National Grid customers lost power.
Also, going to wifi hot spots at venues like Starbucks and McDonald’s is certainly a new capability. How many of you used one of these options?
And, on August 26, 2011 FEMA launched its first-ever smartphone application and text messaging updates. Available right now only on the Android smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone support will be coming in a few weeks.
What were your experiences if you were in an impacted area?
Roberta Witty and John Morency
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