A Word About Emergency Communications

A news report on a Florida woman who has not heard from her family on Barbuda and “nobody answers” when she calls brought on some pleasant and unpleasant memories.

First, cell phones do not work when the power goes otu. Wired telephone systems quit working when poles start going down. Barbuda, like everything in Irma’s path suffered “massive damage.” so it is a safe bet the Island has no telephone service. Cell sites with battery backup for power whose antennas survived may handle local calls until the batteries go dead. Sites with generator backup and working antennas may run until the generator runs out of fuel, a few hours at most.

So far, Barbuda suffered one reported fatality. So the advice for those waiting for word from a disaster area should be to have patience and wait. Health and welfare messages will start flowing relatively quickly, the loved ones are probably safe and as well as they can be under the circumstances, and very little can be done to help them until debris clearance gets to the point people and things can move around.


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2 Responses to A Word About Emergency Communications

  1. “First, cell phones do not work when the power goes [out]”. Used to be true, but not anymore. Uncle Sam requires “hardening” of the cell phone tower systems now, and provides money to do it. Only 4% of the towers went down in the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey. (http://houston.cbslocal.com/2017/08/31/cell-phone-networks-harvey/)

  2. Stranger says:

    Thanks for the comment and update. It has been some time since I talked to the chief tech for a regional cell phone company , and I am apparently out of date. The last time I talked to my foohort, it was backup for 12 hours and that was optional for old construction.

    However, according to a TV interview, there are no operating cell phone towers on the island, the commercial communications dishes are gone, and even the Amateur State they intended for backup are gone. Along with 30 percent of the structures.

    I also have a report there were four “hurricane proof structures on Sint Maarten,” and all four were destroyed.

    Anyhow, thanks again. I appreciate all the help I can gert.


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