Local News

Frustrated Drivers Turn To 911 During Surprise Snowfall

Posted January 21, 2005 5:21 a.m. EST

— Wednesday's surprise snow clogged roads and phone lines. It also prompted a flood of 911 calls.

Telecommunicators like Brent Boykin dispatched police and emergency crews to hundreds of accidents.

"Of course, there was some delay due to weather conditions and traffic conditions," he said.

Boykin said they received more than 2,600 911 calls However, officials said the vast majority of those calls came from frustrated motorists stuck in the sea of brake lights.

"We tried to be as compassionate as we can and still manage the workload that we were having to deal with. That became a challenge," Boykin said.

Some critics argue if an ill-timed snowstom caused so much gridlock and hassle, what would happen during a major event such as a terrorist attack? Most leaders said there is no comparison.

"That is not likely to occur in any kind of terrorist event, which fortunately we haven't had and don't expect to have," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

Philip Penny, 911 director, said sometimes it is tough to prepare for the unprecedented.

"When you have something of this magnitude, it just overwhelms you," he said.

Because of the high volume of calls, many drivers only got busy signals. Some who did get through were relayed to other 911 centers. As for future changes, Penny wants the school system to directly contact public safety prior to closing early.