UPDATE: CenturyTel Down to 1600; Expresses Safety Concerns - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

UPDATE: CenturyTel Down to 1600; Expresses Safety Concerns

MONGOMERY, AL (CTEL) - CenturyTel's disaster recovery teams are scouring northern Arkansas today addressing the remaining out-of-service customers after last week's ice storm. Company officials say there are still some facilities that are inaccessible due to downed trees, limbs and damaged poles in the most rural communities.  Approximately 1,600 customers may be without telephone or Internet service.

CenturyTel officials are asking customers to be patient and report outages to the toll-free customer service lines, as the recovery effort becomes less about power and more about individual businesses and homes that are down because of outside plant damage. Area Operations Manager Skip Layne is concerned about customers who may want to dig or cut trees on their own.

"Walk outside and all you hear is the roar of generators and chainsaws in some areas. Safety is our number one priority, not just for our own employees but also for our customers. Attempting to dig or cut limbs on your own could make a bad situation worse, especially when it's difficult to tell the difference between power lines and telephone lines." Customers are encouraged to limit their own clean-up efforts, especially involving cables that could be mistaken for power lines. CenturyTel is dispatching repair orders as quickly as possible.

"What's been the most amazing thing to me is that people are thanking our crews. So much power is still out, but anyone with a corded telephone either never lost service or was back in service quickly once we got our generators in place," added Layne. CenturyTel telephone and DSL High-Speed Internet lines carry their own source of power from remote facilities.                                                         ###

Residential Customer Service    1-800-201-4099

Business Customer Service       1-800-201-4102

Repair Service  1-800-824-2877

DSL Service     1-800-809-1410

Dial-Up Service  1-888-872-7313


MONTGOMERY, AL (CTEL) - Thousands of CenturyTel customers are back in service Monday after a weekend of round-the-clock recovery from an ice storm that swept through much of the area early last week. Company officials say extra generators and manpower brought more than 100 out-of-service remote facilities back to life, returning telephone and Internet service to approximately 14,000 customers. There may be as few as 1,500 customers still without service at this time. CenturyTel crews from Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama were deployed today to destinations including Mountain Home, Hardy and Pocahontas.

"It has been an incredible weekend making sure our employees and their families were okay, while all the time mindful of our customers and their need for our service. Our biggest challenge now is to continue manning and fueling generators while so much of the commercial power is down," said Skip Layne, area operations manager for north Arkansas. "We are also bulking up our crews with help from other states to start repairing outages caused by trees and debris."

Extra crews will also give local technicians an opportunity to check on their own family situations. "These guys know that when we have a weather event, customers are depending on us. I take my hat off to them all," Layne added. CenturyTel officials expect the number of out-of-service customers will fluctuate as commercial power returns and survey crews reveal cable and pole damages.


Earlier reported:

MONTGOMERY, AL (CTEL) - CenturyTel customers across northern Arkansas continue to experience telephone and Internet interruptions after an ice storm swept through much of the area yesterday. Company officials say 17% of CenturyTel's remote facilities in the state are running on generator in the absence of commercial power sources, and 23% of facilities are not operational at this hour. As many as 19,000 customers may be without service.

"Our biggest challenges include manning and fueling generators while the commercial power is down," said Skip Layne, area operations manager for north Arkansas. "Telephone and DSL lines carry their own power, so if our generators are working, then your telephone is working. However, there may still be outages associated with trees and debris damaging cables and poles." CenturyTel properties in neighboring states including Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri are assisting with manpower and resources.

If you are unable to report an outage, CenturyTel's disaster team is monitoring lines from its Network Support Center in Monroe, La. Even if you do not experience a telecommunications outage, it is possible that access to some toll facilities (connecting long distance calls) may be affected due to the larger call volumes experienced by the network as customers check on family and friends in areas that have been impacted. 


Earlier:

MONTGOMERY, AL (CTEL) - CenturyTel customers across northern Arkansas continue to experience telephone and Internet interruptions after an ice storm swept through much of the area yesterday. Thirty-two percent of CenturyTel's remote facilities in the state are running on generator and battery back-up in the absence of commercial power sources. Ten percent of facilities are not operational at this hour. Company officials estimate as many as 11,000 customers may be without service.

"Outage estimates vary as commercial power fluctuates," said Skip Layne, area operations manager for north Arkansas. "We can't yet estimate the additional outages that may be caused by trees and debris damaging cables and poles. The situation is also dependent on neighboring telephone companies."

CenturyTel employees are coordinating resources within Arkansas and neighboring states to respond as soon as safety permits. Layne said, "Recovery crews survey and then work from the largest cables to the smallest to quickly re-establish local telephone and Internet services to business and residential customers. But right now, there are some facilities out of service that we can't get to because of weather damage."

If you are unable to report an outage, CenturyTel's disaster team is monitoring lines from its Network Support Center in Monroe, La. Technicians are dispatched to the scene as the system detects faulty lines. Even if you do not experience a telecommunications outage, it is possible that access to some toll facilities (connecting long distance calls) may be affected due to the larger call volumes experienced by the network as customers check on family and friends in areas that have been impacted. You may experience call blockages or get an "all circuits busy" message during these types of events. 

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Residential Customer Service 1-800-201-4099

Business Customer Service 1-800-201-4102

Repair Service 1-800-824-2877

DSL Service 1-800-809-1410

Dial-Up Service  1-888-872-7313

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