D.C.

National Mall fireworks show to go on as scheduled

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

While fireworks displays in some Maryland cities are canceled, the sky will  light up on the National Mall.

But, some people worry not pulling the plug on the major celebration could create a whole, new set of problems.

In addition to thousands of people still stuck without power, for several day emergency communication systems in the area have experience problems.

Tuesday, it was business as usual at Arlington County's Office of Emergency Management. Following Friday's devastating storm, 911 service was knocked out around the area.

Verizon, which handles the emergency call system for northern Virginia, suffered both technical and mechanical problems at its Arlington facility.

Dick Woodruff, whose Arlington home is without power, said, "When the storm was happening, there was a tree over here that went on fire...we tried to call 911, and there was no answer."

Arlington County Emergency Communications Commanding Officer John Crawford added, "It has been extremely challenging for us."

Crawford said given Verizon's fragile phone system lately, he's incredibly concerned about the stress the Fourth of July may put on the alrady spotty service.

" The population probably triples tomorrow in that short span of time, and that scares me cause everybody's got a cell phone and if the phones go down and the likelihood of an emergency occurring, whether it be a medical emergency or some other emergency, and you can't get through, that scares me," Crawford said.

That fear is driving up staff at the office. Twenty dispatch officers are being brought in for the holiday., compared to 10 on a normal day.

"Emergency personnel are already so taxed that I think it just adds another element of stress to the whole system," Arlington resident Bobbie Jaeger said.

A Verizon spokesman said 911 service in the area is fully functioning.

Mike Daigle, Verizon's vice president of engineering, issued the following statement:

Our 911 network is designed so that there is no one single point of failure anywhere in the network that can interrupt 911 service. Unfortunately, the nature and severity of this particular storm damaged multiple Verizon facilities inside and outside of offices in the affected area, and that’s what led to the weekend’s 911 issues…We will thoroughly examine these issues to determine whether any design deficiencies exist, and we will take corrective action if any are found.”

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus