ONLY ON 3: Notes from CFPUA's "What We Learned Meeting" after Sweeney water main break

WILMINGTON (WWAY) - Last week, WWAY NewsChannel 3 made a public record request for all internal e-mail from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority regarding the water main break at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant. Following is a memo distributed after it had a post-emergency follow-up meeting:

Lessons Learned Meeting
235 Government Center Drive
Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 8:30 am
Attendees: Matt Jordan CFPUA Chief Executive Officer
Eric Hatcher Facilitator
Cheryl Spivey CFPUA, Chief Financial Officer
Frank Styers CFPUA Director of Engineering
Beth Eckert CFPUA Environmental & Safety Director
Tom Morgan CFPUA HR Director
Jim Craig CFPUA
Superintendent Linda Miles The Miles Firm
Karen Durso CFPUA, Asst. to CEO Jim Flechtner CFPUA Engineering
Jacqueline Major CFPUA, Acting PIO
Warren Lee NHC Emergency Management / 911
Wayne Pearce NHC EM
Donald Taft NHC Sheriff’s office
Cliff Robinson NHC Fire Rescue
Catherine Timpy NHC Health Dept EHS
Ricky Gibbs NHC Health Dept EHS
Wagoner Porter CFPUA Water Quality
Jim Tayson CFPUA / Distribution
Kevin House CFPUA Safety Manager
Joel Bing CFPUA ESM
Mike Richardson CFPUA Drinking Water Superintendent
Bernice S. Johnston CFPUA Engineering
Martha Zeigler CFPUA Customer Service Director
Bradley Jones CFPUA Sweeney Water Treatment
Bert Singleterry NHRMC
Mark Bennett NHRMC
Christene Mitchell CFPUA, Engineering

Below are comments, suggestions, criticism regarding the Emergency Event caused by a major water main break at the Sweeney Water Plant that began on Friday, July 23, 2010:

Wayne Pearce, NHC Emergency Management:
> Communications – talk more between agencies
> Boil Water advisory was confusing to the public
> Bring in PIO from other agencies
> Should enter more information onto WEBEOC so that everyone will know what is going on.
> We could have used the Reverse 911 system, although it would have taken about 6 hours to reach everyone. In the meanwhile, several updates were published. Instead of reverse 911, we should look into other options such as loading CFPUA customer data base phone numbers into the system. If we can do this, we would also capture cell phone numbers that cannot be reached through the 911 system.
> Matt Jordan suggested that we may use the Reverse 911 system to send a message directing customers to our website and / or the government channel(s) for the latest information.

General Comments:
> We should have cell numbers available for someone at each media outlet so that we can call them to make them aware that a press release was sent.
> Utilize the Government Channels!
> Prior to holding a press conference, prepare a list of questions you want the media to ask – questions that would give the public information they need to know about the emergency. (Based on Friday evening’s press conference, it was clear that the reporters did not know what to ask.)
> Utilizing the weather radio notification? – Warren Lee does not want to pursue this since it should be used strictly for weather information.

Donald Taft, NHC Sheriff’s Office:
> CFPUA followed emergency procedures very well. It was amazing how staff pulled together and worked as a team and followed the process!
> Need to fine tune the details.
> When sitting in the EOC, he noticed managers making management decisions and others offering input. Managers should go to a separate room for discussion and decision making.
> PIO should have been in the room immediately.
> Don’t forget about other agencies. CFPUA had no official liaison. Reach out to other agencies and ask for help.
> Remember that your decisions impact others.

Ricky Gibbs NHC Health Dept EHS:
> Tried to contact Cathy (Timpy), but had trouble reaching her by phone.
> Press conference: We should have prompted the press with questions.

Cliff Robinson, NHC Fire:
> Great job done on process!
> Should assign tac channels
> Must have clear communication
> Should have entered into a Unified Command.
> Get decision making folks there and involved in the decision making.
> As you are planning and preparing for emergencies, make sure you have ICS forms. Regarding tabletop exercises and training. NHC Fire Department will help.

Mike Richardson, CFPUA:
> Needed interconnects between Nano and surface water system. We will be looking into interconnect options
> Wells worked – Thanks to Robert Daughtry and Kevin Boyette who helped with generators. We had great teamwork!
> Communications was somewhat of a problem – some had radios, some had push to talk… EOC – great set up!
> Boil Water – need to work with the State for more clarity.
> Approximate water loss: Thursday 1 million gallons o Friday 3-1/2 to 4 million gallons  Total approx. 5 million gallons

Catherine Timpy, NHC Health Department:
> Should have a joint information center.
> Health department could have sent over a few people to answer calls in the call center.
> Customer call list – should share data bases.
> “Advisory” - health department has no authority with an advisory. This was also very confusing to the public. Probably the biggest complaint!
> There was some misinformation regarding Cape Fear Hospital who stated that they were going to bring wells on line. Diane Williams, Pubic Water Supply stated that these wells were not approved, Some discussion on Rose Ice Company and who regulates this type of company. It doesn’t appear that anyone regulates. This is a concern!
> Beth Eckert – Should include the Department of Agriculture

Bert Singleterry, NHRMC:
> NHRMC personnel will be meeting to discuss how we can install emergency wells.
> Beth Eckert requested the CFPUA stay in the loop. Beth, Dolores Bradshaw and Jim Tayson should be included as things progress.
> NHRMC will be pursuing an emergency water plan.
> Communication between CFPUA and NHRMC went very well. Communication was very helpful. Boil water advisory helped the Infectious Control Group to determine which patients could take showers, and which could not. NHRMC had a drop in pressure, not a total outage.

Warren Lee, NHC Emergency Management:
> We were getting conflicting information on the needs of the hospital.
> It happened quickly.
> Everyone pulled together and began working together.
> CFPUA personnel should become more familiar with WEBEOC.
> Public Information – Good job! Overall, it was a successful event!

Frank Styers, CFPUA:
> Warren Lee made the EOC available immediately. (Thanks!)
> NIMS training was very effective.
> We should have replaced ourselves sooner (Shifts too long)
> Thank you to all agencies for their assistance.
> Should now have some table top exercises.

Jacqueline Major, CFPUA:
> Need a printer
> Never received an organization assignment list – didn’t know who was in charge
> Need “go-fors”
> Need better maps
> Had three people telling her what to write in her press releases. She wasn’t clear as to who she should listen to.

Wagoner Porter, CFPUA:
> Everything went well on site.
> Archer Western did a good job.
> Everyone pulled together well.

Brad Jones, CFPUA:
> Great job!
> Archer Western did a great job!
> Need more training on EOC
> Need a clear line of succession
> Boil Water Advisory was confusing. Suggestion: Educate the public on our website. Offer easy to understand explanations for each level and what happens to cause them to go into effect.
> Create an email database of all customers, if possible.
> Plug our website every chance you get.
> We need a better relationship with the media.

Bernice Johnson, CFPUA:
> Internal communications went well.
> After hours call center should be kept informed.

Jim Craig, CFPUA:
> Would like to commend staff for an excellent job.

Linda Miles, The Miles Firm, Legal Advisor
> CFPUA Ordinance does not address emergencies such as this one. Will need to update Ordinance.

Beth Eckert. CFPUA:
> Thought it went really well.
> Have to work on some organizational issues Lab staff, etc. – teamwork!
> Coordination among groups went well.
> No positive test results!
> Bert Singleterry stated that the hospital very much appreciated the testing that we did for them. A lot of what was done was not captured on WEBEOC. We had a wealth of knowledge and experience and a very dedicated staff!

Joel Bing, CFPUA:
> Communications within agencies went very well.
> Bert Singleterry from NHRMC agreed.

Kevin House, CFPUA:
> CFPUA should prepare a box of necessary ICS forms so that we are ready for emergencies.

Tom Morgan, CFPUA:
> Some internal communication issues

Cheryl Spivey, CFPUA:
> Frank did a great job as Incident Commander
> Eric Hatcher – Cheryl did a great job making decisions.

Mark Bennett, NHRMC:
> We received communications, but thought it could have been a little better. Had communication issues within the hospital, which they will be addressing on their own.
> Timely turnaround. Could not have gone any better.
> We logged into WEBEOC and could not get information. We need to have access to this information.
> CFPUA staff should have further training on WEBEOC.

Karen Durso, CFPUA:
> We worked hard and fast to get Jacqueline (PIO) over to the EOC. Thanks to Bernice, David Sickle and Calvin Brown. Customer Service and After Hours Call Centers need to receive constant updates. Heard from several members of the public that they watch the government channels for information. We need to be ready to get emergency information on to these channels next time.

Warren Lee and his staff along with NHC IT Department were extremely helpful. Steve Sims of County IT came in on Sunday to help us out with the phones.

Christene Mitchell, CFPUA:
> Staff did a great job. Field workers were great! Appreciate the assistance from all agencies Internal communication

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Seems everyone was busy patting each other on the back. What about the concerns of the citizens, why were they not addressed? I assume no one discussed the special police powers they tried to invoke? Try again CFPUA

In an earlier article in the Star News, NHC Commissioner Barfield said something to the effect...we can't make the public pay attention. There are a lot of people, in general much of society, that are so busy with other things that they just are not aware of what is going on around them. A case in point, just this week my neighbor asked me if we are still having to boil our water. Now, that guy is a friend...but how stupid can you be? This news event happened two weeks ago!

I see some comments in there about educating the media...apparently those interns and amateurs are just parrotting what they are given...and WWAY does a lot of that, admittedly. Before I would heap a bunch of scorn on everybody else's response, I would have to ask how did the media do getting out the right story. What kind of questions are they asking? Do they even understand the issue?

And...are people even smart enough to get it. I mean...Lady Gaga is on the cover of People this week, and Lindsay Lohan just got sprung and is in rehab, now! Get your priorities straight, WWAY!