A problem with Verizon's communications lines caused major disruptions in both wireless-cellular and landline phones in Clinton County and beyond yesterday afternoon.
Kevin Fanning, director of emergency services for Clinton County, told The Express Friday afternoon there was "apparently...a break or cut in Verizon's fiber connection somewhere between Williamsport and Jersey Shore."
Phone service was out from around 2 p.m. yesterday until it was completely restored at around 5:45 p.m. yesterday.
"9-1-1 phone service, as well as regular phone service, is now restored....Verizon made whatever repairs or rerouting of circuits to get everyone back on," Fanning said.
The phone outage created complications yesterday, particularly for emergency services.
"Our biggest challenge at the communications center is receiving 9-1-1 calls. We've got some diminished capacity," Fanning said prior to the restoration.
Fire stations were fully manned to deal with those emergencies.
"(We told) people that if they can't get through to 9-1-1, to go to the nearest fire station. The fire stations are manned with volunteers," Fanning said yesterday prior to the phone service restoration.
In cases such as yesterday, due to intermittent service, Fanning encouraged people not to attempt to make phone calls unless it is an emergency.
"This increases the opportunity for someone to get an open/undamaged circuit to dial 9-1-1 if they have a true emergency," Fanning said.
Lock Haven Hospital also was without phone service and had set up a temporary direct dial number so the public could contact them for services, said Kathleen Hartman, chief nursing officer of Lock Haven Hospital. That number was published on breaking news at lockhaven.com just prior to service restoration.
None of the hospital's services were affected, only phone lines, she emphasized.
"We wanted the community to be aware we are publishing a temporary direct dial number, so that if people have patients or residents in this facility, they can contact them, or if they need our services," Hartman had said prior to restoration.
The phone lines at The Express-and reportedly at nearby businesses downtown-were also disrupted.
"All circuits are busy" was the message customers received all afternoon Friday when trying to call The Express office-and when using their cell phones.
Cell phone service appeared to be completely out. The internet was still working at The Express and staff were receiving e-mails.
Express staff first encountered the problem when they could not use their cell phones around 2 p.m. It then spread to landline phones. Businesses in downtown Lock Haven were reporting similar problems.
Later in the afternoon, Verizon identified where the service interruption occurred and crews worked to get the service restored, Fanning said.
About an hour before restoration, he said, "I just got off the phone with Verizon and they are presently working on resolution to the problem through one of two ways...Verizon is working to re-route traffic from the damaged circuits to other undamaged circuits in their system. Furthermore, they have apparently also identified where the service interruption has occurred and have crews working to get the service restored."