Company executives respond to Irene aftermath questions

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – There were some candid answers Monday night from the companies under fire for their response to Hurricane Irene. Executives from Dominion Virginia Power, Comcast and Verizon, along with county officials took questions from frustrated Henrico residents who waited for days for help after the August storm.

It's not often you get to ask the top brass of a company what went wrong. The Tuckahoe area county supervisor said that was the point of Monday's meeting: to get citizens answers straight from the horse's mouth.

They say patience is a virtue. Executives and county officials had to exhibit the same patience dealing with about fifty aggravated Tuckahoe residents, as they asked for during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

"You were not satisfied; we were not satisfied," admitted Dominion's Michael Frederick.

One of the most common complaints was "Why can't you give me accurate estimates of when my service will come back on?" Companies acknowledged there were issues. Dominion said it's examining those problems.

"We got to do this a different way," Frederick maintained. "We've got to give customers better information on this than we gave them during the storm."

The County Department of Public Works is also looking for better ways to get the word out.

"I'd rather give you general information than bad information," explained Director Tim Foster.  "What I was very concerned about was giving you information that we'll be at your house Friday and not show up at your house Friday."

One concern drivers saw repeatedly was the need to practically play chicken to get across the road.

"Isn't there something else you can do to increase the safety at intersections," asked Supervisor Pat O'Bannon."

The county is examining whether it can install batteries at traffic signals. This is another work in progress.

"The goal would be to get the police officers out of the intersections, put batteries in and run those batteries indefinitely," Dir. Foster said.

And before the next big storm hits our area, executives want a public relations message drilled into citizens' minds.

"We have an obligation to serve and we basically make our plans to do that to the best of our ability," proclaimed Frederick.

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