September 2, 2014

Portions of county went quiet due to phone outage

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com

Posted

Updated Oct. 2, 3:12 p.m.             ARENAC COUNTY — Telephone customers with CenturyLink landlines and AT&T and Verizon cell phones in portions of Arenac County found their phone systems out of order through the morning of Sept. 28.

            According to Arenac County 911 Director Steve Wuelfing, the outage began at about 10 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, and affected residents of the cities of Omer and Au Gres, as well as Arenac, Sims, Whitney, Au Gres, and Turner townships.

            “My understanding from CenturyTel is that someone did some boring somewhere, and bored through their fiber optic cable,” Wuelfing said.

            Wuelfing said the outage was fixed by around noon Sept. 28. He said people in the affected area were able to dial to other people within the area, but are unable to call outside of their local phone switch, which meant they could not reach 911. In light of that, emergency responders were kept at alert at local fire departments.

            Firefighters were on standby at the Omer-Arenac Fire Department and at the Au Gres-Sims-Whitney Fire Department to deal with emergencies, either from people walking into their offices or from calls, Wuelfing said. The firefighters were able to contact dispatch through their emergency communications, and remained at their posts until getting the all-clear from the phone company, he said.

            Wuelfing said there were no serious issues brought to dispatch’s attention during the outage.

            The emergency alert management system, equipment purchased by Arenac County Emergency Manager Ed Rohn some time ago, Wuelfing said, was put to use for the first time to send updates to residents of the affected area over the course of the outage.

            “We’ve had weekly tests but this is the first time it’s been used for an actual public alert notification,” Wuelfing said.

            The alert comes in over broadcast systems, much like the emergency alert tests that show up on television and radio.

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