WASHINGTON - Hurricane Irene is long gone, but local governments haven't forgotten about it. Local officials have been busy assessing their own response to the storm and the damage that resulted.
In Montgomery County, Chris Voss, Manager of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, addressed a county council committee on the county's response.
Among the conclusions: Pepco's performance and coordination with local officials has improved. The utility had been hammered by customers and county council members in the past for failing to provide updates and accurate restoration times.
Those issues, along with Pepco's 'blue sky outages,' remain under examination by the Maryland State Public Service Commission. A final report on the PSC's investigation into Pepco's reliability is due out soon.
In Prince George's County, Brian Moe, Director of Homeland Security agreed that Pepco's performance has improved. "Pepco, I have to say, was very responsive to us," Moe says.
Moe also says BGE was responsive, though the extent and duration of the outages in the BGE service area have put that utility in the hot seat. The PSC has called for two public hearings on its response to Hurricane Irene. The first, in Towson, will be held September 27. The second will be held in Baltimore on October 12.
As for Prince George's County's own response to the storms, Moe says "There's always lessons to be learned from every type of crisis that we go through."
Moe says the back to back emergencies the county has dealt with: the earthquake, hurricane, flooding and preparation for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks have brought county agencies together.
He does say the flooding that caused the County Administration Building to close took everyone by surprise. He calls the nearly three feet of water in the building 'historic' and says getting the electricity restored on the ground floor has been a priority, as is battling mold, which can set in quickly when a building's air conditioning can't be used.
The building will be open for business Tuesday.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)
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