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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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