Assessing the Response & Cost of Threats

Published 10/29 2013 06:28PM

Updated 10/29 2013 06:46PM

ALTOONA - As investigators get close to nailing down a suspect in the recent Hollidaysburg bomb and water safety threats, all of the agencies that have been involved are assessing their response and tallying their costs.

Shortly after the water threat came in Friday afternoon, local officials met with the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP ordered the widespread restrictions that the local officials had to put in place.

Amy Kemp was one of the dozens of Altoona Water Authority employees who put in extra hours this past weekend, fielding hundreds of calls.

"All the phones were constantly rolling over," said Kemp. "We had good manpower and got questions answered promptly."

The questions started pouring in early Friday evening.

"It took a lot of resources early on from a lot of different agencies to make sure that these notifications went out," said Steve Michelone from the Blair County Department of Emergency Services.

Each municipality served by the water authority had to alert its customers to the restrictions. Officials said the recorded messages worked well.

"We basically had taken measures to isolate the the water system and make sure that there was no additional treated water from that source that entered the system," said Michelone.

Ron Becher from the Altoona Water Authority said they're still adding up the costs of responding to the threat, but he estimates overtime alone will top $10,000.

"It was more a concern that the customers were going to be so much inconvenienced," Becher said. "And we really didn't know how long up front, so that was probably the biggest frustration."

The authority had to flush at least 1.5 million gallons of water from its lines. At customers' rates, that would be a $7,100 bill.

"If there are areas we need to improve, we'll figure out what they were, moving forward we'll correct those," said Becher.

All of the agencies involved plan to get together Wednesday to review the response as a whole. They're also planning to share their cost estimates with each other. When added with money businesses lost, one source says the total could approach six-figures.

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