Updated by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Thousands of people in the Dubuque area have their Internet and phone services restored after an outage Tuesday that lasted more than four hours.
A CenturyLink representative said an excavator not connected with the communications company working in a subdivision south of Dubuque Tuesday struck a fiber line a little before 11 a.m. That knocked out phone and Internet service to much of the surrounding area.
Just after 3 p.m., crews restored service.
The outage impacted 911 service in Dubuque, forcing calls to be re-routed to the Cedar Falls State Patrol office.
It was the talk of the town Tuesday, though most people couldn't call each other to talk about it.
Sandy Magsamen works in downtown Dubuque and is regularly on her phone for her job.
"This is the world of technology, modern technology, but it's hard to imagine we have no telephone service right now," she said, sitting outside with a co-worker Tuesday during their lunch hour.
She said Tuesday's outage made her think.
"It made me reflect back to 9/11, and I'm thinking, you know, how grateful we are that we do have the helpful people - the firemen, the policemen in the area - but, you know, it's just crazy things happen sometimes and it is just an eerie feeling," Magsamen said.
This sudden lack of modern technology impacted attorney David Wright as well, who had neither phone nor Internet service Tuesday afternoon.
"Phone service is critical because we do a lot of long-distance phone calls, and, of course, faxes are down, too, which is most unfortunate, but most importantly, we do a lot of e-mails. We'll do maybe 50 e-mails or more a day," Wright said.
There were safety concerns as well, Dubuque's assistant chief of police Terry Tobin said, since Dubuque's 911 call center lost phone service.
"Our biggest concern is that someone who is in an emergency situation is not able to get the information to us as quickly as normal for us to provide help, be it a medical issue or be it some kind of public safety issue," Tobin said.
Tuesday afternoon, there were more empty parking spots at the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center than there normally are.
"We try to make our availability as high as possible," Tobin said, regarding the department's response to a phone outage. "We've asked our detectives that normally would be working cases and might be in the building or doing interviews outside the building to be out in the squad cars or their unmarked cars just to be available."
Financially, many restaurants' credit card readers went offline. Colleen Gitter and her husband said they went to a local Mexican restaurant and were told the establishment's credit card reader was down, which prompted Gitter to walk the couple of block to American Trust and Savings Bank's ATM.
"The machine said unavailable," Gitter said, standing next to the out-of-order ATM. "I've never seen that before."
The outage affected the ATM, but the bank's tellers were open for business.
"The bank is built in such a way that, if we needed to, we could run the bank on pen and paper," the bank's executive vice president of marketing Peg Hudson said.
Fortunately, people adapt and make do in phone and Internet outages such as these, but the cost is convenience.
The City of Dubuque said customers still experiencing problems at this point should contact their service provider.
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive.More >>
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive, and cheered as he rolled close.More >>
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