Almost 1,000 calls flooded call center when water main broke

Posted at 7:58 PM, Jan 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-21 07:42:32-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- RICHMOND, Va. -- Aerial footage shows the water main break at Cumberland and Harrison Streets in Richmond.

The massive break caused disruptions to multiple Richmond neighbors including the home of Kevin Terminella.

"We woke up to no water," said Kevin Terminella.

Water was restored on Monday night, but Terminella said his family had to deal with something else.

"We tried to call 311 and couldn't even get through,” he said. “It just kept hanging up on us.”

Terminella said the voicemail on the city's 311 call center said Richmond's Department of Public Utilities was closed because of the holiday. He said that made the situation more frustrating.

“Just wanted to make sure someone knew, didn’t know initially if it was related to just my block, just my house," said Terminella.

CBS 6 questioned DPU about its staffing levels during the holidays.

Spokeswoman Angela Fountain said that DPU staffs its emergency dispatch on scheduled city holidays, and after normal operating hours, based on its call volumes, which typically are very low.

But Fountain said during the time of that water main break at Harrison and Cumberland, DPU had 3 full time staff members responding to roughly 986 calls between 8:00am and 9:30 am.

Extra staff members were in place to handle the call volume two hours later at 11:30 a.m., according to city officials.

Terminella hopes the city is taking steps to better communicate with its customers.

"I think the city acted quickly to the issue,” he said. “It was just getting the communication out that was the bigger problem.”

We asked DPU how will they resolve this communication issue during city holidays, and if they'll make any changes, they haven’t responded yet.



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