June 12, 2016

Six-hour communication outage hits Hatteras and Ocracoke


A six-hour communication outage made life interesting, if not difficult, for Hatteras and Ocracoke island residents and visitors today.

Shortly after 10 a.m., all forms of communications stopped -- internet, all cell phone service, cable television, and some land lines.

Many of the islands' land lines continued working, but both locals and visitors who rely on cell phones or the internet were out of luck. There was no email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram -- all the means of communication upon which we have come to rely.

Communications returned about 4 p.m., though the reason for the outage is still not totally clear.

"(I) Don't know what happened to cause the failure but it appears to have been a CenturyLink cable on the Bonner Bridge," Dare County emergency manager Drew Pearson said in an e-mail when internet service returned.

"I have no indication it was the result of any construction activities," he added.

Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie said that a "a fastener holding the fiber option cable to the bridge broke and when it broke, it compromised the cable."

Doughtie said he sent extra deputy sheriffs to Hatteras during the outage.

Dare and Hyde county's emergency radio system remained working, though people without a landline were unable to call 911.

Many of Hatteras and Ocracoke first responders kept in touch via ham radio.

The outage made life difficult for businesses that were open today and the people who were shopping. Since credit cards charges go through the fiber-optic cable, like almost everything else, the cards were useless.

Cape Hatteras Electric Company's power grid was not affected, so islanders still had lights and air-conditioning on what has been a very warm day. ATMs also continued working and were probably heavily used by folks who were shopping and needed cash.

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