Suffolk 911 System Missed 1 in 5 Calls During Recent Storm; Updates Planned

Emergency prep update eyed for eastern Long Island

Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010  |  Updated 10:46 AM EDT
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The Suffolk County executive has ordered an update of emergency preparedness plans after revelations of a 911 logjam during last month's nor'easter.

More than 2,300 calls to 911 went unanswered during the massive storm, though officials said they didn't believe anyone was endangered because of it.

County Executive Steve Levy said he would cull together an internal panel to "update" the plan, and he wants the review completed by June 1, when the hurricane season starts, according to Newsday.

"This storm produced record rainfall and flooding, and our emergency preparedness systems were certainly put to the test over the last six months during a winter/early spring season that also included a blizzard and a hurricane-like nor'easter," Levy said in the statement.

Authorities realized that some calls weren't getting through and police personnel managed to call everyone back by 11 p.m. the night of the storm, but in some cases, they weren't able to get through, reports Newsday. But Levy and Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Williams had no idea there was a logjam until three days after the storm, according to the paper; officials said the public wasn't warned. 

The devastating storm also overwhelmed neighboring Nassau County, which was swamped with about 10,000 calls – more than four times the normal amount – and 1,548 never reached an operator. Nassau County officials publicized the problem the next day, however, and pledged a $7 million 911 upgrade, according to Newsday.

Some of the Nassau calls were transferred to emergency centers in Suffolk County or upstate.

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