South Carolina Power surge knocks out 13,000 phones : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, May 12, 2000

Power surge knocks out 13,000 phones in Berea, more in TR, Slater-Marietta By Paul Alongi STAFF WRITER

BEREA About 13,000 Berea homes and businesses were without phone service for four hours Thursday morning after power surged through the circuits at a BellSouth office, a company representative said.

The surge also partially knocked out service to another 13,000 customers in Travelers Rest, Slater and Marietta, said Arnold Burrell, BellSouth's regional director. In those areas, residents could call others in the immediate area but they could not call long distance and no one could call them.

The loss of phone service inconvenienced residents and businesses, but no serious problems were reported.

For John Kerr, the inoperative phone lines meant a quieter morning at his business, Berea Hardware. He was unable to process credit card transactions immediately, but he had other concerns.

"What I was concerned about was 911," he said after service was restored. "I said, 'I sure hope that they didn't have a lot of calls, a lot of need for them.' "

Ralph Inman, Greeville County's E-911 director, said he hadn't heard of problems related to the failed phones.

"Of course, that always causes a problem anytime we can't communicate," he said. "But I have not heard of any real fallout from it."

In general, when phone service goes out, residents should go to their nearest fire station in the event of an emergency, Inman said.

"It's all you can do," he said.

The phones shut down about 6 a.m. after an unexplained power surge at BellSouth's Berea office, Burrell said.

In Berea, most phones were back on by 10 a.m., he said. By 3 p.m., workers were restoring power to homes.

Some phones might still be off today, but it is probably because BellSouth doesn't know about them, Burrell said.

"Do not assume we know it," Burrell said.

In Travelers Rest, Slater and Marietta, service was restored about 10:30 a.m.

Burrell said that affected customers in all areas can call BellSouth and have their accounts credited to make up for the time they were unable to use their phones.

"Anybody who was affected by this and requests a credit gets it," he said.

To reopen the lines of communication, BellSouth had to turn on the power and crank up the air conditioners. The room had to be cool because the huge computers that keep the phones running don't function in hot areas, Burrell said. He said the company plans to figure out what went wrong today.

Paul Alongi covers the Eastside, Westside and Taylors area. His phone number is 298-4746

-- Martin Thompson (, May 12, 2000

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