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Are Jacksonville-area 911 systems prepared for a storm like Ida?

911 system in New Orleans had temporary outage during the hurricane

When disaster strikes, people rely on the 911 system to get help. As Hurricane Ida barreled through New Orleans -- that system went down.

When disaster strikes, people rely on the 911 system to get help. As Hurricane Ida barreled through New Orleans -- that system went down.

The Orleans Parish Communication District posted on social media, telling people that if they had an emergency, they should walk to a nearby fire station or flag down a police officer to report it.

It said the cause of the outage was because the system was outdated, and its partnership with AT&T for a new system was not ready. Emergency systems there were down for 13 hours on Monday.

In Northeast Florida, many of the communications systems are relatively new and most have already been put under the test of strong winds. There are plans and backup plans in place to avoid what happened in New Orleans.

Jeremy Robshaw is the department spokesperson for St. Johns County Fire and Rescue.

“The towers, the infrastructure is all built to Category 5 standards,” Robshaw explained. “It is built to withstand worst-case scenario.”

Robshaw pointed out that the systems proved to be reliable back when Hurricane Matthew moved up Florida’s east coast.

“You have layers of redundancy so that if one part fails there’s a secondary system in place to pick up where that left off,” he said.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said it too has plans in place for an outage. They include a 911 backup communications center located off-site. There’s also a contingency plan that allows for a seamless transition from the primary center to the backup.

Deane Hane, E911 coordinator in Clay County, said it’s the same there.

“There is a core group of equipment that is duplicated,” Hane explained. “We have two of those and they are in separate locations throughout the county so that if one of those core pieces of equipment fails, the other picks up the slack immediately and continues on without entire 911 systems.”

While each county has slightly different back up protocols in place, they seem confident that they’ll be ready if a disaster hits.


About the Author:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.