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January 10, 2011


Did you get one of those Snow Calls last night?

by Deena Winter

I did. It was just after 10 o’clock and we were already all getting ready for bed when the phone rang and I didn’t have any cordless phones upstairs so I ran downstairs to see who would be calling at 10 p.m. — which really isn’t that late but it was late enough for us to already be settling in for the night and late enough for me to assume it’s an emergency or something — and when I got there the answering machine had picked up and…

It was the city.

Or the county emergency center, to be more precise, calling to tell me the mayor declared a snow emergency, effective at 4 p.m. That parking was banned on snow routes, bus routes and other arterials. And where to find a map of those routes. And that the city had 19 crews out spreading salt. And that a full-fledged operation would begin tonight… and then he got cut off by my machine.

I thought it was kind of late to be calling to tell me what I could see by looking out the window — that it was really snowing and I should probably get my car off the street (which I already had). But apparently, my phone call was early, compared to others.
According to the paper, some people got phone calls all through the night, from midnight to 5 a.m. Now THAT would make me mad.

According to LJS, this was the first time the automated phone system called FirstCall had been used to notify Lincoln and Lancaster County people (with land lines) of a snow emergency. It should be able to quickly notify the more than 50,000 people on its list, but something went wrong. (One has to wonder how effective the system is, given the number of people who no longer have land lines.)

One guy I talked to today got a call around 3 a.m., and made the tongue-in-cheek comment: “I thought the mayor was running unopposed?” In other words, he took the call as more of a Robocall to let people know the city is on top of this snowstorm.

And the city is very, very sorry.

Read more from City Hall
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stacy
    Jan 10 2011

    Yeah, you think it would have been obvious to people to get their cars off the road.. but I’m looking out my front window and see a car parked in a bus route, which is not allowed. The guy did it last year too, keeps blocking our driveway so we have to actually back out the opposite direction we may wish to go so we don’t run the risk of hitting ice and hitting their car. So yeah.. you would think it was obvious. Some people aren’t so smart though.

    And I’m grateful for the phone calls. My husband gets one from the University. We get one from LPS. Since we don’t have landlines, and the article did clearly state that cell phone owners also can sign up to be notified, I’ll be adding this one too.

  2. Joan
    Jan 10 2011

    Our call came in at 1:11 a.m.

  3. Lou
    Jan 10 2011

    Add our family to the list of those not appreciating a phone call after 10:00 PM; our call came after 11:00. My first thought was what happened to our daughter. It’s nice to see others don’t appreciate these calls from the city, LPS, etc. after 10:00. The LPS automated system called us last year for one of the snow days at approximately 3:30 AM. How do we opt out of this stuff – we certainly didn’t sign up for it.

  4. Rosemary
    Jan 10 2011

    We did get this wonderful call!! I didn’t quite understand why they called us and they do not need to call again!! I am curious where they got our number!! They called us at 9 pm!

  5. Pat
    Jan 10 2011

    Got our call at 4:30 a.m. and both of us woke up immediately and said oh oh since those calls normally mean big trouble. We probably should be grateful it was a glitch – but the same middle of the night call happened to us last year from some Creighton emergency warning system. What is the point though – It’s not like anyone can do anything about the snow. It’s not a move-to-higher-ground flood warning. Makes me hope the world’s nuclear missiles aren’t on the same sort of computerized system.

  6. Jane
    Jan 10 2011

    We got a call at 2 am and we were not happy! I called the mayor’s office this morning and got their canned “we’re sorry”. I do not think call of this type shoudl be made from 10 pm – 7 am. When the phone rings at 2 am, you naturally assume it’s an emergency of some kind!


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