SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Technical Glitch Caused Countywide Evacuation Orders for Alamo Gas Leak

July 25, 2013 22:37 pm · 20 comments

A technical error led to an alarming automated evacuation message meant only for parts of Alamo to be sent to residents throughout Contra Costa County on Wednesday, a county sheriff’s spokesman said today.

The automated phone message from the county’s Community Warning System went out around 11 a.m. Wednesday in response to a gas leak reported at 3195 Danville Blvd. in Alamo.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from homes and businesses within a roughly 1,000-foot radius of the leak, according to San Ramon Valley Fire officials.

The leak occurred when an East Bay Municipal Utility District crew struck a gas pipe with a backhoe, PG&E representatives said.

The county has an automated warning system, which is used to alert residents to emergencies. A Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA, system, is also available to notify the entire county of a potential emergency.

County sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee said automated evacuation orders were only supposed to be sent to homes and businesses in the affected parts of Alamo on Wednesday.

“However, because of a technical error on the part of the vendor that we use to send alerts, the alert was inadvertently put out through the WEA,” Lee said.

People countywide heard the automated phone message, which urged them to evacuate immediately and to take only essential belongings with them.

Lee said the county is working with its wireless alert vendor to make prevent future errors with the alert system.

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{ 20 comments }

1 Anon July 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM

Maybe you should not use a vendor from another country, or that uses subcontractors in another country. Cheapest is not always best.

2 Better Than No Warning At All... July 25, 2013 at 11:58 PM

…I mean, are people really riding on them over the alert going out to everyone? I’ll take that over no alert and a crater, followed by a bunch of people asking, “where was the warning? Why weren’t we told to there was danger?”

3 Anonymous July 26, 2013 at 12:04 AM

What does Desaulnier ,who never met a press release he didn’t like, have to say about this?

4 me myself and i July 26, 2013 at 12:20 AM

Im am glad i got that even with it being a mistake. It led me to look on line to ee what it was about and i had family the had not been told to evaxuate yet becausr they do not have a cell phone and the tv was not on. They happened to and were in the garden when the phone rang and missed the call. I called to check on them and they were able to be notified. Not only that but it aloud myself to take a different way to work due to the chance the freeway was going to be bizzy or shut down. So even though it was a mistake thank you.

5 me myself and i July 26, 2013 at 12:24 AM

I so agree warning is better then no warning. We as the public have a right to know when something is dangerous and or life-threatening in our county. you never know it may affect us one way or the other.

6 mzmorgan July 26, 2013 at 4:04 AM

yeah u should probably work on that…not cool to have to grab everything in a panicked rush to get the hell outta dodge and the warning wasnt even meant for you…

7 wh0079 July 26, 2013 at 4:45 AM

I don’t know… as one (of the many) who got that text, when it didn’t apply to me (living in Concord) really freaked me the hell out for a while. I was looking on news sites and asking around trying to figure out what to do.

8 Just sayin July 26, 2013 at 6:04 AM

vendors fault (cough cough)

9 Mindy July 26, 2013 at 6:30 AM

I heard the alert while in Martinez. If you listen to the message its says Alamo, so we knew not to worry. I hope everyone is ok, and its better then no warning at all.

10 Reality says... July 26, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Disaster Recovery self-owned = Perform tabletop exercise every quarter. DR outsourced, exercise tabletop every month. You learn that in DR 101 folks.

11 Geoff Myers July 26, 2013 at 6:37 AM

The Alert was terrible. It came thru Obama’s speech. It said something non specific almost garbled then the words evacuate Alamo. Avoid Danville Blvd???
So I went to the Alert Web site.
The site does not mention ANY current alerts. The site is worthless.
I had to scroll thru TV channels to find a news report. almost 45 minutes before I knew anything that would be helpful. These things are designed not to work from the beginning so they can request more funding.
In this case I don’t feel the alert was successful in any way.

12 JD July 26, 2013 at 6:43 AM

I don’t know if I should be relieved or concerned. I didn’t receive the alert. I live in Concord. Am I on their list? Will I receive an alert when it counts?

13 Anonymous July 26, 2013 at 7:17 AM

I didn’t get a phone call with an alert message. However, I did see the alert posted on the internet when I was performing a Google search. If the County thinks the message went out to everyone in the County, the County has more problems with its alert system than it thinks.

14 Pleasant Jenny July 26, 2013 at 7:18 AM

This is explains why my 14 year old sweetheart called me at work to say “The television said there is a gas leak so I brought the cats back inside.” :)

15 Anon July 26, 2013 at 8:17 AM

So doing a poor job, is OK now because it is better than nothing? You must be the kind of person who believes everyone deserves to get an award for going from one grade to another in K-12. Even if it is just because they are such a nice person. They name is mediocre, where it with pride.

16 Connie Dobbs July 26, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Awww, Jenny. That’s adorable. Good on you raising a kid who thinks to look after the helpless creatures.

17 Sign up for alerts...at your own risk! July 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM

So you can go to the county’s website to sign up for alerts by area, city, or county here:

http://www.cococws.us/getCurrentAlerts.action

But be warned, they gave a disclosure that says they can’t guarantee the accuracy if any of their alerts and that by registering to be alerted, you agree they can’t be held responsible for any inaccuracies in the alerts they give out! Here is a quote from their disclaimer:

“The Community Warning System (CWS) issues alerts when available about situations in Contra Costa County that pose an imminent threat to life or health. The CWS is operated by the Office of the Sheriff in partnership with the county’s Department of Health Services and its business and industry partners.
There is no charge from the County for these alerts, however your service provider may charge you in accordance with your individual plan.

Contra Costa County makes no representations about the accuracy or the reliability of this cellular alerting service. This cellular alerting service is provided to you as a courtesy and is supplementary to any other warning systems and protocols for your area. This is a voluntary service and may be discontinued by the County at any time without notice. You should not rely on this cellular alerting service for public safety information.

By registering for this service, you acknowledge that this service is provided without representations concerning its accuracy or its reliability, that you will not be relying upon it for public safety information, and that it may provide false alerts and fail to provide alerts in an actual emergency. Understanding that the service is experimental and evolving, you knowingly waive the right to make any claim against the County arising out of or related to the system, and release the County from any claim, demand, obligation, cost, damage or liability regarding the system.”

18 anon @1 July 26, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Yea what kind of car do you drive?

19 anon @15 July 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM

And is sports everyone gets a trophy so their feelings won’t get hurt. We reward for mediocrocy.

20 Anonymous July 26, 2013 at 11:20 PM

The vendor mentioned somewhere else is from Martinez, not an oversees company…also, after doing some Internet research on the WEA system that wasn’t supposed to be used, it is up to the cell phone companies to broadcast the message once they get it…maybe not everyone broadcasted it. I have Verizon and did not receive anything…in this case I guess its lucky if all cell phone companies didn’t send the alert but hopefully they will when we all do need the message!

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