It boils down to a lack of an emergency response plan, an inadequate amount of boots on the ground and a failure to communicate to customers and officials; That was the gist of the Community Review Team’s report, detailing BWL’s failure to respond to thousands of power outages following December’s ice storm.
The 75 page report listed 54 recommendations to address those failures.
“I’m sure that the board of water and light will look at those recommendations,” said Sandy Zerkle, chairperson of the BWL Board of Commissioners.
Zerkle says the report begins with the first few days of the storm, and says BWL officials are already making many of the changes which the CRT has recommended.
“A lot of these have been addressed,” Zerkle says.
The CRT put together its own assessment of “best practices” for emergency response, which its report says BWL failed to follow.
“Most of the time the Board of Water and Light follows best practices, so if there are some areas we have not then I would have to look at those and figure out why we didn’t or are we doing it now,” said Zerkle.
“When General Mcdaniel was assigned this task we expected a very thorough review, and that’s exactly what he gave us,” said East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett.
Mayor Triplett says what struck him was the CRT’s emphasis on a regional response to emergencies, yet another area in which he says BWL fell short.
“Had those systems been in place, had we had a more effective means of communicating, the response likely would’ve been faster,” said Triplett.
He admits there is work to do, but says the utility seems to now be on the right track in terms of correcting its past mistakes.
“There’s been considerably more communication since the December storm than there’s been in the past,” Triplett said.