Verizon outage affects 2300

Approximately 2300 Verizon customers have been without service for varying periods of time, with many still without service as of press time, due to a Owen Dolen Park work crew’s severing five large telecommunication cables and badly damaging two others on the evening of Wednesday, December 7, at Lane and Benson streets, said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo..

This has resulted in an ongoing outage that was not caused by Verizon. The company has assigned 40 employees to work around the clock to restore service to all customers, Bonomo stated.

“Not only are we splicing, we are also replacing sections,” Bonomo said. “Our first job is to make sure that service is restored as soon as possible. We will worry about who did it and who will pay for the damage later on. The most important thing is getting service back to all of our customers.”

Special priority was given to large community organizations in restoration of service, including R.A.I.N. Middletown Road Senior Center, the 45th Precinct, Pelham Bay Post Office, Lehman High School, Renaissance High School, and P.S. 304, Bonomo stated.

The service should be gradually restored, with a substantially portion of the customers restored by January 1, 2012, Bonomo said. The company has utilized whatever spare lines it has to restore service as quickly as possible, Bonomo stated.

The outage has disrupted the ability of several businesses along E. Tremont Avenue to function, said James McQuade, a business leader who is the owner of Schuyler Hill Funeral Home at 3535 E. Tremont Avenue.

“This kind of outage is unacceptable in the world in which we live,” McQuade said. “[Verizon] has this technology, but they don’t have any experience in handing emergencies with it.”

The outage of phone and internet service has made getting through to the JASA Throgs Neck Senior Center, located at 2705 Schley Avenue, difficult for seniors, said Danielle Palmisino, JASA Bronx district director. More than a week later, on Thursday, December 22, service still had not been restored to the senior center, Palmisino stated.

“We are still open because we have a lot of local people, but anyone calling to find out what the meals or activities are cannot reach us,” Palmisino said. “Staff are using cell phones at an added cost. It is a large inconvenience.”

Phone and internet service had also not been restored at St. Frances de Chantal School on December 22, said principal Grace Lucie. A Verizon crew had checked the building days after the cables were cut and found that the problem was elsewhere in the system, and they did not provide a phone number to follow up, Lucie stated.

“They told me that they are working on it, and that it might be until the middle of January before service was restored,” Lucie stated. “A lot of cell phones don’t work in the building, and in case of emergencies, we have to go outside to use our cell phones. Parents are unable to get through to the school.”

Verizon employees may have to visit customers to check that phone and internet service have been restored, Bonomo said. The company is not yet aware of precisely who cut their cables, he said.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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