Dave Pistone: Who ya gonna call?
Kudos to so many people for putting the Code Red system in place in Nevada County — the law enforcement agencies, the fire departments, KNCO and KVMR and other media, the homeowners associations — everyone who has worked together to help make the community safer in times of disasters. This has made a huge difference in the ability of residents to be prepared to evacuate in the event of a fire or other serious disaster.
There’s one glaring hole, though. Those of us in outlying areas who have AT&T lose phone and internet within an hour or so of the power going out, such as during a PSPS. All of the fabulous work done by the aforementioned agencies is for naught when there’s no phone or internet — no way to be notified of an approaching fire; no way to be notified of the need to evacuate. The inability to keep their system up for more than an hour is unacceptable.
Portable generators usually get stationed at locations closer to town, but for many who are more than a few miles outside the city limits, often where there is little or no cell reception, there is no support. This has not always been the case, but has been lately. Whether battery backups or other mechanisms were used in the past, support is no longer there. If the local agencies truly want to do as much as possible to protect the community, mandating that essential services such as communication are maintained is essential.
The latest PSPS, which began on Oct. 25, was at least the second time this year that it has happened. This PSPS came with ample warning — at least a few days. People throughout the community could be seen preparing over the weekend, whether it was purchasing groceries, getting gas, buying batteries, or anything else related to being prepared for an outage.
Losing phone and internet during a winter storm is inconvenient, but losing it during fire season can be a matter of life and death. Losing phone and internet due to trees falling on lines is unfortunate, but understandable. However, losing phone and internet due to the inability to provide power back-up to their systems is avoidable and unacceptable.
It’s high time that the Nevada County Board of Supervisors mandate that essential utilities, such as AT&T, provide backup generator power or some other means of ensuring that customers are able to be notified to evacuate in the event of a fire or other disaster.
Kudos to all who have made the Code Red system an effective way to protect the community. It is very much appreciated. It’s time to make sure that all agencies serving the community do their part to help protect residents and save lives.
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