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Officials Responded Quickly To San Diego Blackout, But Information Was Slow

— San Diego County has received hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure and technology to deal with disasters. But a Red Cross official said the failure during the outage was in communicating with the public in a timely manner.

For a region that's used to fires and earthquakes, much of San Diego County seemed unprepared for the massive blackout that started in Arizona and darkened a large swath of Southern California and Northern Baja California.

The power went out around 3:30 p.m. Within the hour, police were out in force trying to control the traffic as all of the traffic signals were out. Most major media in San Diego County were also hit, making it extremely difficult to broadcast information on television or the radio.

"For me, this was what I call a perfect storm," said Rick Hinrichs, managing director for disaster services at the Red Cross in San Diego.

He also said the outage could not have come at a worst time.

"We were hit by something that was sudden. It disrupted communication, it wasn't expected, and it created a whole lot of general uncertainty as to what was happening,” Hinrichs said. “And the timing for this was also perfect in that it occurred at around 3:30.”

This is the time when kids get out of school and rush-hour traffic begins.

Hinrichs said at first, the Red Cross was as unaware as the public about the reasons for the blackout. San Diego County has received hundreds of millions of dollars for infrastructure and technology. But Hinrichs said the failure, this time, was in communicating with the public in a timely manner.

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | September 12, 2011 at 5:45 a.m. ― 5 years, 6 months ago

Officials kept bleating on about how they were updating their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and webpages with information. This did me no good. My computer was down. My cell phone connection didn't work. I can't afford high priced electronic toys to access Facebook and Twitter, even if I was so inclined. SDG&E telephoned my brother three times (twice during the backout and once the day after) on his land line and left a flier for him the day after. I have a land line, but no calls were made to me. SDG&E emailed me the day after to tell me there was a blackout...a message that was not only late but a useless message of the obvious. I'm tired of being told the only way I can find out anything is on the privacy-sucking Facebook and Twitter, which I couldn't access in a blackout anyway. This not communication. This is corporate laziness. My main source of information was the radio, and I clung to that lifeline for several hours as the day waned and the darkness enveloped my house. The politicians and corporate executives, able to afford electronics I can't, were useless to me. A battery operated radio bought years ago was the most valuable source of information that day, along with talking to my neighbors face to face. What does that say? Not much has changed with the rise of electronic toys when it comes down to the essence of the matter.

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