Sunday, June 07, 2009

"What I did on my Saturday..."

Around 4:30am Saturday I heard what to me was that unmistakable "thud" of a raccoon unsuccessfully scaling the long metal pole to get the hummingbird feeder and falling off. Even as quickly as I could get anti-coon Mercy to the door for a peek it was gone. So I let her out the front for her morning sniffs.

As I opened the door, it sounded like heavy rain, still; however, I looked up to see only star people...and so my gaze went to the street where, lo and behold, there was a veritable river rushing downhill. A sizable water main apparently broke somewhere uphill.

I called 911 and asked for the fire department, which told me to call the city's 311 line for emergency utility service. Big mistake. This was not the first time I've dealt with 311 and there are serious issues of gross inefficiency if not negligence somebody in charge needs to address. Been a big problem and thorn for Charlotte for years, but little has changed.

When I called 311, I did get a receptionist who transferred me to emergency services...where I heard muzak play and crickets chirp for 12 minutes before I just hung up. I called 311 right back and continued to hear muzak and crickets playing poker for an additional 20 minutes as not even the receptionist ever picked up. This, of course, after the initial message that the phone call may be monitored for supervisory review...yeah, if you had any conversation to review.

So I called the fire department back and explained that 311 was useless and they said they called in the report to another number and I figured that was all I could do. A city pickup truck did a drive-by around 7:30am or a little later and then left. At 10:45am, city utility-marking crews arrived to note gas lines and such. They opened a hydrant on another street to relieve the pressure, but it flowed mightily still until the actual repair crews arrived around 4pm.

Suffice it to say the neighbors were calling in reports, as well, and getting the same wall and run-around. "Will it be fixed today?" "We're not sure...we hope so" is all anyone got. I called WSOC where I filled in Sunday and told them I had a story for them, which was not about a water main break as much as a city's slow emergency response time. I went ahead and shot this video footage and sent it to them which they used on-air. For video embedded into Blogger, it gets really compressed with weird audio, so please excuse the low-quality'll still get the idea of what flowed for more than 12 hours before it was stopped...

(hit the triangle button on the bottom left)

When I got up at 1:30am for work and let Mercy out, I could hear the trucks still rumbling up the street, their back-up beepers going, and thankfully, shortly thereafter, I had water back, just in time for a shower. After I let it run to get all the dirt and air out of the lines, naturally!

Luckily, no neighbors suffered any serious damage. Almost too much excitement for a Saturday, it was. NOT!

May your waters run trouble free today and every day!

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