2013-03-15 / Top Stories

Locals Still Report Verizon Outages Due To Sandy

By Miriam Rosenberg

Communication for many in Rockaway has not yet returned to normal since Sandy hit in October. Depending on the area, locals are still reporting being without their Verizon service four months after the storm.

Verizon trucks have been a constant in the Beach 40s through 60s on Beach Channel Drive. During the last couple of weeks, The Wave has spoken with residents who live in those areas. Not only are residential homes affected, but the post offices in Arverne, Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Park are also without Verizon phone and Internet.

Pat Simon, the director of Ocean Bay Development Corporation said that, “People in the development don’t have service. It’s hard to tell how many.”

Simon was contacted by Verizon on the same day that The Wave reported OBDC’s address, 443 Beach 54th Street, as being without service.

“I was told that eight more days and the grid would be back up,” Simon.

In the meantime, the organization is paying $79 each month for a service that allows people to leave voice mail on their phone to be retrieved by using another phone.

Simon did say that she could not wait longer than the 10 days Verizon said the repairs would be completed.

“I’ve already called Time Warner,” said Simon. “I can’t go any longer.”

Simon said Verizon service was still out on Wednesday morning and she was not counting on regaining service as promised on Thursday.

On Tuesday, The Wave spoke with Lolita Miller who lives on the Edgemere side of Ocean Bay Houses at 443 Beach 54 Street. On Monday she received a jet pack mobile hot spot device from Verizon as a temporary solution to enable her to use her phone. With it comes a temporary phone number.

“Everybody in the building has a problem with Verizon. It’s not up and running,” said Miller.

Connie Taylor, lives at 319 Beach 54th Street, on the ocean side of Ocean Bay Houses. People in her building are also waiting for the return of their Verizon service.

“They keep telling us they are working on it,” said Taylor.

Postal Service is also being affected. Cassandra Louie, the postmaster for Rockaway, said on Wednesday that Verizon service had not been restored to the Arverne (11692), Rockaway Beach (11693) and Rockaway Park (11694) post offices.

Satellite service is being used at the three branches. Louie said they were transitioning off of satellite service back to Verizon at the Arverne and Rockaway Beach offices. They are currently working on verifying connectivity and capacity – “making sure all transaction details are in the system” – before full restoration.

At Rockaway Park Verizon is “still working to establish connectively,” said Louie.

John Bonomo, a representative for Verizon explained the lengthy delay in the return of service.

“Much of our decades-old copper network was either washed away or damaged beyond repair,” said Bonomo in an email to The Wave. “What is salvageable, we are repairing, but in large part we are installing a new fiber-optic network that will serve the Rockaways.”

He added that, “As part of this, we need to bring new cables – fiber, of course – to people’s homes and businesses.”

He did not give any specific timetable for completion of the repairs.

“It varies for different customers and locations,” said Bonomo. “Repairs are being done each day.”

Bonomo also stressed that, “Customers do not have to pay any bills for the time they are out of service; credits will be applied.”

On Monday, Bonomo said he looked into additional addresses The Wave reported as being without Verizon service: 443 Beach 54 Street, 319 Beach 54 Street, 434 Beach 58 Street and numerous repair trucks seen at Carlton Manor at 71-15 to 71-17 Beach Channel Drive. He has not yet gotten back to us with any information on these inquiries.

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