Wednesday, October 31, 2012

No Phones - No Electric For Millions

Widespread Outages Continue For Eight Million

After Hurricane Sandy passed, the trouble just began as New Yorkers and millions from the East Coast to the Midwest now cope with downed power lines, flooded streets, damaged homes and businesses, and inability to communicate by phone.

While power outages were concentrated in the Northeast as night time temperatures reach the 30s this weekend, businesses and homes as far away as Michigan and Ohio to the west, and North Carolina to the south, are all facing electric and communication problems.

The FCC has estimated about 25% of cell phone towers are out of service, spread among ten states, along with a quarter of cable services not working now. Land line phone service is affected by downed lines all through the affected areas.

While, cell tower sites are able to run for one or two days on batteries and generators, fuel must be delivered to keep the generators going. Some sites were flooded and can't operate even with generators.

The FCC recommends cell phone customers use text messaging while the cell sites are being brought back to service, saying "try a variety of communications services such as email, wireless and land line phone calls if one service is not working."

The FCC has published a tip sheet on how to communicate during an emergency including tips to wait for 10 seconds before redialing a number, and keeping calls short.

Normal phone service may not be back online for a week, some communication companies report.

Electric service will not be restored to millions for as long as a week.

Google's "Crisis Center" for Super Storm Sandy shows a zoomable map to see where electric is out and links to each electric company for map details on areas affected on the neighborhood scale.

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