It seems whenever Washington, DC is about to get hit with a thunderstorm, I get a text message and an email alerting me to the oncoming storm from the DC government. That's nice of them, though I could get the same information easily enough from a few dozen other sources. It's weather, after all.
At 10:08 AM today, the DC government sent out an email alert warning residents of much of the city not to use their water due to increased chlorine levels. Oddly, I got the email, but didn't get a text message. It seems like "Don't use your water, it isn't safe" is precisely the kind of message that they should send out via text -- certainly much more so than "It's going to rain tonight."
Even more odd: According to an 11:34 AM update at DCist, the DC government announced a modification of the affected area -- a modification that excludes my residence from the warning. Yet DC never sent out either a text message or an email announcing the change.
Odder still: At 3:40 PM, DCist posted an entry indicating that the warning had been lifted. It's 6:15 PM as I write this, and I have not gotten any such notification from DC. And if you go to the DC government web site, there's no indication there ever was a warning.
So, it turns out I could have been using my water fro the past 6 or 7 hours, but DC -- which earlier sent an email telling me not to use my water -- never got around to letting me know.
And it turns out DC doesn't consider "your water isn't safe to drink" (or "OK, now your water IS safe to drink") important enough messages to merit the use of the text-message alert system they use whenever they expect a heavy rain.
This does not inspire confidence in the city's emergency preparedness.
Lesson learned: DCist.com is more reliable than DC.gov when it comes to emergency situations.
UPDATE: I now have an email from the DC government canceling the warning; apparently it was sent at 4:15. The fact that it took two hours to get to me is a pretty good indication that they should have sent a text message, too.
A note at the bottom of the 4:15 email reads "Sent by DC HSEMA to e-mail, pagers, cell phones .... powered by Cooper Notification RSAN." (Ellipsis in original) But I see no indication it actually was sent to cell phones -- I haven't gotten a text message.
The 10:08 AM email advising DC residents not to use water includes this note: "Sent by DC HSEMA to e-mail....powered by Cooper Notification RSAN." (Ellipsis in original) So that seems to suggest they didn't even try to send it to pagers or cell phones.