Friday, December 28, 2012
It was a busy year!
- THE NEIGHBORHOOD FILES
- James Cullum
Friday, December 28, 2012
The year 2012 is nearly over, and as we look back, it truly was a remarkable period for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The presidential election, a hurricane, and so many other events kept us busy, and there was always reason to celebrate and find happiness. So, with thousands to choose from, here are my favorite photos of the year. It really was tough eliminating some from the group! Enjoy the pictures, and Happy New Year! - James Cullum, Local Editor, Patch
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Telecommunications company has spent months making improvements in hopes of avoiding another 911 system failure.
An estimated 2.3 million people lost access to 911 service this summer when the area was hit by a derecho. Now, with Hurricane Sandy lined up to potentially slam Northern Virginia, Verizon — the company that provides the emergency communication service — is confident that the long list of improvements it has made in the months since are enough to weather the storm. "We're ready for Sandy," Verizon spokesman Harry J. Mitchell told Patch in an interview Friday evening. In late September, Verizon released an 11-page Moving Forward presentation (see the PDF attached at the right) outlining the issues with its power system and internal and external communication that contributed to the 911 system failure — and the steps that have been or will …
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Northern Virginia's extreme weather started last winter, meteorologists say.
Derechos, blizzards, hurricanes, thunderstorms, extreme heat...is there any wacky weather Northern Virginia hasn't seen in recent years? This past summer saw enough 100-plus degree days to make 2012 the most intense in 141 years of record-keeping according to the Capital Weather Gang. “Starting from this past winter, we had temperatures that were much above normal,” said Ken Widelski of the National Weather Service. “It was an abnormally warm winter, followed by a cooler than normal spring and we definitely had our periods of hot weather over the summer.” As for this June's derecho, it’s typical climatologically for this area to see a derecho every couple of years, Widelski explained. What was unique about this year's derecho was the …
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Fairfax County encourages residents to take a brief online survey.
As hurricane season looms, Fairfax County officials want to know how they can improve their communications during times of crisis, and they’re seeking feedback from residents. After the June 29 derecho that killed four people in Fairfax County and damaged more than 100 homes, officials want to know how they can best interact with residents and business owners during emergencies like severe weather, hurricanes or even terrorist attacks. “We’re asking for every resident to provide input, as well as business owners,” said David McKernan, coordinator for the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, in a release on the county’s web site. “It’s important for us as emergency planners to learn how this storm affected our residents, …
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Communications company blamed loss of service, particularly to the 911 network, on “multiple failures cascading from the generator problems."
Generator problems are to blame for Verizon's response to the June 29 derecho storm, according to a presentation from a company representative during a town hall meeting hosted by Del. Kaye Kory’s (D-38th) in Falls Church. Doug Sullivan of Verizon said the derecho storm “downed more poles and generated more commercial trouble tickets for Verizon than Hurricane Irene” and blamed the loss of service, particularly to the 911 network, on “multiple failures cascading from the generator problems”. [Dominion Virginia Power also gave a presentation at the Town Hall. Read about its presentation here.] Due to the power outage, Verizon did not have enough information to create a plan to fix the damage and restore power to its customers. “It is very …
A power company representative said problems stemmed largely from the storm's sudden arrival.
Dominion Virginia Power blamed a lack of advance preparation time for their week-long power restoration following the June 29 derecho storm, the company said in a presentation during a Town Hall meeting hosted by Del. Kaye Kory’s (D-38th) in Falls Church. [Verizon also gave a presentation at the Town Hall. Read about its presentation here.] “It is very scary to be without any kind of communication or air conditioning when we experience a million-year storm,” said Kory, who called the meeting so residents had a chance to communicate directly with the service providers. Dominion's problems stemmed largely from the storm’s sudden arrival, the company said. “This was the equivalent of a hurricane moving across the nation with little time for …
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Officials point to company in formal FCC report about outages after June 29 derecho.
Fairfax County officials have filed a formal report with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding widespread 911 failures after the June 29 derecho, this time, blaming the outage on the failure of Verizon’s backup power sources and damage to equipment in the area. These factors, combined with what the county deems “Verizon’s failure to give prompt and effective notice” of the failures, inhibited the county’s responsiveness, the complaint says. The rare and intense storm caused the deaths of four county residents and damaged more than 100 homes. According to a July report from the county, 911 calls received in the county increased by 415 percent in the four hours after the derecho hit at roughly 10:30 p.m. on June 29. But from …
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Sometimes old school technology, or none at all, is the most effective way to deal with emergency situations
The old expression “hanging by the telephone” might confuse anyone under 30 these days. They have no idea what it was like before the advent of cell phones, and for those under 40, they may not remember a time without call-waiting or even answering machines. You had to wait at home for important phone calls. Fast forward to today: You find yourself in a wireless dead zone or your battery dies. Desperation sets in. How will I call home? How can I connect with those I am supposed to have a business meeting? Enter old school technology Do you know that an address book also refers to a small book that has room for alphabetical listing of your friends, family and business contacts with their numbers, addresses and other information? Even if you…
Friday, July 13, 2012
Moran, Connolly, Wolf want the FCC to reconsider a regulation concerning backup power that the commission proposed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Northern Virginia's three congressmen called on the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday to take action that will prevent future outages to the region's 911 systems. In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, U.S. Reps. Jim Moran, Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf asked that the commission dust off a post-Hurricane Katrina regulation that would have required all telecommunications companies to provide at least eight hours of backup power for all cell phone towers. The regulation was subsequently struck down on a technicality related to how the commission handled public comments, according to a news release. “In the event of an emergency situation, whether it be a natural disaster or man-made threat, the public needs confidence …
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Prepare now for the next time we're without electricity.
There have been ample opportunities over the past weeks to be reminded of how much we rely on electricity. Perhaps the first few hours without power are okay, even possibly fun as we indulge in memories of camping. Then the need to hunker down sinks in, as we eat the second (or third) quart of softening ice cream and put another thawed steak on the grill. We intended to be better prepared for the next emergency, but oops! Where to start? Forewarned is forearmed. Local services, such as Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) provide traffic and weather notices to your phone, via email or other options. Visit Fairfax County’s Website for links to a variety of local and national alert services and sign up. The United States…