Thumbs up: Public assessment of water-crisis response should be useful tool
The estimated 300,000 people who lost access to their tap water following a January chemical spill have been asked to assess state officials' response to the emergency.
They should not by shy with their opinions -- for multiple reasons. One would be simply the opportunity to vent their emotions and frustrations after being without water for cooking, drinking and bathing for up to a week. But more importantly, their feedback about the response from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration as the spill was discovered and the days and weeks afterward should help officials come up with a better game plan if such a crisis is repeated.
The governor's office announced Monday that it had created a questionnaire for residents to complete with their assessments regarding "the many ways in which state agencies, county and local emergency management offices, volunteer and charity organizations, the West Virginia National Guard, and other entities responded" to the state of emergency.
Residents can complete the questionnaire online at http://tinyurl.com/mf2ylne, pick up copies from the governor's office or call that office at 304-558-2000 to have a form sent to them. It is focused on the performance of emergency responders and asks residents to describe things they did well and ways to improve. Residents are asked to complete the questionnaire by May 26.
Tomblin also stressed that the incident has raised the issue of water safety to a national conversation. That means other states and the federal government will be studying West Virginia's response -- and how it could be made better -- as a blueprint for their own planning. The findings from this review likely will be useful not only for the Mountain State but elsewhere in the country, as well.
That's why public participation in this assessment is important.
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