Town taking additional steps for emergency notifications

Published 8:44 am Monday, October 10, 2022

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When there’s a potential problem with the town of Mocksville’s drinking water supply, town officials want all customers to know.

It happened last Friday.

Brian Moore and his public works crews had been working for hours to try to isolate a major water line break for repairs. They had to use shutoffs that created low pressure and outages, primarily north of I-40. This triggered a state-required precautionary boil water notice the town had to distribute by the end of the business day.

Town Manager Ken Gamble said staff immediately contacted Davie County Communications and requested a Hyper-Reach message to get the notice out to customers. They also posted the information on the town’s Facebook page, website and automated telephone message on the main town hall line.

They sent the information to local news media, and sent and posted updates with those sources.

One of the issues, after the line was fixed, water had to be collected and sent for testing. Those results weren’t received until Sunday afternoon, when the boil water notice was lifted. There were no contaminants.

Gamble said his concern is that some residents apparently never got the message. Although there were no contaminants ever found in the water, he wondered how to better send notifications so that all customers know the situation.

“The town exists to deliver reliable services and provide transparency when we could have done a better job,” he said. “The town is considering ways ensure the maximum amount of coverage for community alerts like this in the future.”

But they will need the help of its customers, who need to provide a reliable source to receive information.

“The Hyper-Reach system is an incredible tool that helps us quickly get information to the community,” Gamble said. “But it is only as good as the information in the database. All land lines are automatically included, but many people use cellular phones as their primary means of contact now. Customers have to sign up to get alerts on VOIP phone lines, cell phones, text messaging and emails.”

Gamble plans to send information on how to sign up for Hyper-Reach to every town water-sewer customer in the coming weeks. Customers can sign up using any street address in Davie County by calling or texting “Alert” to (336) 477-2478 or by going to the website (English) or (Spanish). Tech-savvy residents can get Hyper-Reach alerts via Alexa-enabled smart speakers by saying “Alexa, enable Hyper-Reach” and following instructions. Town staff will be available Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to assist any customer without computer access or who needs assistance enrolling in Hyper-Reach.

Gamble says that many people asked why Mocksville did not send out a countywide notice. He said the boil water notice only applied to the 3,000 Town of Mocksville water customers and sending out a countywide notice would have created more confusion.

“We want to be as precise as possible when providing the community information and do not want to alarm anyone not impacted by an incident.”, He went on to say he will talk this week with other Davie agencies to determine when it makes sense to request assistance in getting the word out for Mocksville-centered incidents.

Gamble also thanked the public works crew who labored through Friday night to restore water service and apologized to customers who did not receive the notice.

“If there is a silver lining to this incident, it is that we know a weakness in the notification system that, with the help of our community, we can improve through enrolling everyone in Hyper-Reach,” he said.