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New Technology's Great ... Until You Don't Get the Warning Call

About a third of the people affected by blizzard power outages didn't get the emergency warning because they don't have landlines, officials say.

Some Plainfield residents who don’t have a landline telephone were left out in the cold during the recent blizzard. 

A reverse 911 phone chain that sent an automated recorded phone message warning residents about possible power outages and advising them how to get to shelter did not reach more than a third of Plainfield households because they only have cell phones, Plainfield officials say. 

The reverse 911 system, a Will County-sponsored emergency program, automatically sends pre-recorded messages during crisis situations. But there is one glitch: If you only have a cell phone, the system doesn’t have your number. 

“It’s one of those situations where you need to keep your old technology,” Village Manager Brian Murphy said.

An old-fashioned landline will hold a charge for hours even when the electricity goes out, he said.  

Residents in four Plainfield neighborhoods had power outages during the blizzard. Electric service was out for two to three hours in the downtown area near Plainfield Central High School and in Vintage Harvest, Eagle Chase and The Streams subdivisions.  

Plainfield residents experienced similar problems with reverse 911 notification during the floods of 2008, village Trustee Paul Fay said. 

“It did work – there just wasn’t as much coverage as we would have hoped,” Murphy said. 

Fortuntely, there's a solution. Those who don’t have a landline can contact the Will County Emergency Management Agency at http://www.willcountyema.org/policeDEPTs.htm to have their cell phone numbers plugged into the reverse 911 system.

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