By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Reporter
The deluge dumped on Atmore two weeks ago by Mother Nature did more than leave water standing on numerous city streets.
The several inches of rain that fell late January 3 and early January 4 played havoc with antiquated cable employed by Frontier Communications and left many business and residential customers without service for a week before service was restored.
The problem, caused when the paper-insulated cable, reportedly laid more than a decade ago, that runs along East Church Street was compromised, causing a breach in the connection.
Frontier repair crews from Tennessee and North Carolina, along with local repairmen and crews from Birmingham-based Trawick Contractors, worked late into the nights of January 8 and January 9 to repair the cable before last weekend’s return of heavy rains. The repair work was finally completed January 9.
“The cable here is several years old, probably several decades old,” said Glen Hargis, a Frontier repairman from Tennessee. “It was installed by one of the companies that owned it long before Frontier bought the business. It’s got paper-wrapped copper insulation, and all the rain that fell here caused the paper to disintegrate and short the metal.”
The break occurred in the two blocks near Church Street’s junction with Medical Park Drive and left businesses along that street — as well as those who are serviced by that cable — without telephone, Internet and other communications services for more than seven days.
Reports are that the affected business entities included The Meadows Assisted Living, Buster’s Restaurant, Dollar General and the Escambia County Satellite Courthouse. Phone calls to these businesses were met with constant busy signals.
Torie Gregson, manager of Buster’s, posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that its phone lines were down, preventing potential customers from calling in to-go orders and causing a decrease in business.
Jordan Barnett, administrator at The Meadows, posted on her Facebook page that all electronic communications to the facility were on the fritz.
“As a medical facility, you can imagine the headache it is,” she wrote.
County Administrator Tony Sanks expressed similar sentiments.
“Yes, the satellite office was without telephone service for several days due to the outage,” Sanks said. “The outage caused the public to be unable to reach any of the agencies located at the satellite office by telephone, which was quite an inconvenience.”