Washington, D.C. – The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors voted unanimously today to request a comprehensive after-action review of failings resulting from the June 29 storm, “Derecho.” The storm caused widespread property damage and massive service disruption to electric power and telecommunication and water infrastructure in the region. This review would be undertaken by local and state homeland security and emergency management officials.
The Board also voted to create a task force at COG aimed specifically at reviewing and addressing the failure of the Verizon 9-1-1 Emergency Response Network in Northern Virginia. Six jurisdictions in Northern Virginia were affected by this incident, including Fairfax County, the largest jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the region.
Stephen Souder, Director of the Department of 9-1-1/Public Safety Communications for Fairfax County, briefed the Board on the specifics of the failure, noting that once a major Verizon facility in Arlington lost power, its back-up sources of power also failed, resulting in nonexistent or severely crippled 9-1-1 service. Souder also noted that Verizon failed to provide clear information in the hours following the outage.
“The elected leadership of our region expects far better than this and that’s why this issue is getting the immediate attention of this body,” said Frank Principi, Chair of the COG Board of Directors and Prince William County Supervisor.
“This is clearly a regional issue,” said Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Chairman and a COG Board Member who proposed that COG address this failing. “While this time the 9-1-1 failure was in Northern Virginia, there were similar problems throughout the region during the January 2011 snowstorm. Any number of things can cause a power outage and our 9-1-1 system must be prepared to stand up to them all.”
One Region Moving Forward