Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

pennymugEmergency preparedness is not an uncommon task in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Many people have bottled water on hand, non-perishable foods stocked up, a flashlight, etc. to support themselves and their families for short periods of time during weather events or a man-made disaster.  But what happens when just one of your support systems fails, while everything else around is going on like normal?


That’s the predicament many Falls Church residents found themselves in last week when a major Verizon cable failed due to water damage.  Repair crews first thought they could simply dry the cable and bring it back into service, and service was restored briefly on Friday, only to fail again on Saturday.  The damage to the copper wiring was determined to be catastrophic and the cable needed to be replaced rather than simply repaired.  That meant that many Verizon customers in the Bailey’s Crossroads/Glen Forest area were without telephone, security, or Internet service.  While lack of Internet can be annoying, it was the lack of telephone service, especially for emergencies, that was most vexing, according to the complaints called in to my office.

Senior citizens often rely on their landline telephone to stay in touch with family, friends, and medical providers.  The Verizon breakdown created apprehension for many older residents and their families.  How could they call 911 for an ambulance?  Or a fire truck?  Or a police officer?  The first answer, of course, is that Verizon needs to get the new cable installed with all deliberate speed, and restore service quickly.  The second answer may be inexpensive pre-paid cell phones as a back-up, and for peace of mind.

Verizon officials indicated that a new cable was obtained from New Jersey, and that service should be restored by this Friday.  There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of connections that need to be made by hand, and the underground vault is a tight fit for repair workers, so the work is slow.  The Verizon telephone utility is regulated by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in Richmond, which can be reached on line at sccinfo@scc.virginia.gov.

A few years ago, localities in the Metropolitan Washington Region participated in the Be Ready, Make a Plan program that compiled information about local emergency resources.  That information was included in a “Z-Card” format that provided basic tips for sheltering in place and adapting personal information that you can carry on your person.  About the size of a credit card, expandable Z-cards are still available in my office.  Log on to www.makeaplan.org for additional information or to download the Z-card form.  It’s never too late to prepare for emergencies.

The Art in the Workplace program at the Mason District Governmental Center features the archival photographic prints of Amie G. Tannenbaum.  One photo captures a hummingbird silhouetted in flight at a feeding station; a photo of daisies from a distance resembles fried eggs.  A favorite photo highlights the stark contrast of campus steps in sunshine and in shadow.  The Art in the Workplace program is co-sponsored by the Arts Council of Fairfax County and my office, and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.