Cellular Dead Zones Following Isaias “Clearly Insufficient” for New 911 System

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UPDATE Cellular communication outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias have left officials in Lower Hudson Valley scrambling to do more than debris clean-up. According to lohud.com, tower damages, lack of battery backup, and generators without fuel left residents and emergency response personnel in danger when pockets in the region became dead zones. 

“These storms happen year after year after year,” Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater said. Confirming that Isaias knocked out a Verizon cell tower, Slater also noted, “It really scrambled our communications for frankly an extended period of time, you know, more than a few hours.” 

Rockland County Executive Ed Day told lohud.com the county recently invested $30 million in its emergency communications systems for 911. Regardless of the investment into 911, if cell service is down, the public won’t be able to reach operators. Lyon said the cell service companies aren’t doing their job and their efforts were “clearly insufficient.”  

“It’s absolute utter neglect,” Day said. “They know that there’s a potential problem and they’re choosing to ignore it.” 

During a news briefing on Thursday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said it’s unclear why outages of cable and cell service occurred. According to Lyon, the carriers weren’t cooperative when the county initially reached out Thursday to check on the status of their networks. Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz said recovery efforts are complete in the South and resources have been deployed for restoration efforts in the Northeast. “Crews worked through the night to deploy mobile cell sites for the hardest hit areas,” Schulz said.

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