Irene Aftermath: Still Waiting for Services

CHESTERFIELD, VA  (WWBT) - The messages and calls have been flooding the NBC12 newsroom ever since Hurricane Irene. Sixteen days after the storm, several of you say you still don't have cable, Internet, and phone services restored.

Customers from Verizon and Comcast have contacted NBC12 about their services, saying it's been a long, expensive, and frustrating wait. Plus, they say they're not getting clear answers about when it will be restored.

Martha Coleman is one of those customers. These days, she passes the time listening to the radio, and watching her front door.

"I've called 4 times for appointments, but I've called several other times to find out how long it would be before. they kept saying work was backed up," said Coleman. "They couldn't give me a definite time."

She's been waiting for Comcast since Irene hit.

"I don't have no cable," said Coleman. "Nothing from cable. no phone, no cable, no Internet...nothing."

And as the days pass, her expenses keep climbing. Without a land line, she's been using her cell phone a lot more.

"A cell phone that's bill gonna be sky high because I didn't have all that many minutes on it, but that's the only thing I have with the outside world is a cell phone."

Across town, Verizon customer, Katrina Walker, waits too.

"Just feeling helpless," sighed Walker. "It went from frustration to helplessness. I feel like there's nothing I can do."

She says she's been told multiple times service would be restored-- then it wasn't.

"Definitely when I've called the 1-800 number, they've given erroneous information," explained Walker. "I lost a lot of time with them just not knowing what was going on. seemed like nobody could give us an answer."

We contacted both Verizon and Comcast. Their responses are below.

From a Verizon Spokesperson:

Overall, Verizon's land line network performed well. We didn't experience any major problems as a result of Hurricane Irene.

Water and wind damaged some of our facilities. Our teams of technicians were out assessing the damage and making repairs as they were able to gain access. Many of our facilities were on backup generators or batteries until commercial power was restored. This enabled us to provide land line phone service even though the power was out in some areas.

Some utility poles and wires also were down in the Potomac and mid-Atlantic region. But, other than that, we faired pretty well.

As you may know, if a customer is using a cordless phone and he/she loses power, then that customer will not have phone service. That's why we encourage people to have a phone in the home (or office) that plugs into a jack. So, when the power goes out, these customers still can make and receive phone calls. I don't have total numbers of customers out of service in a given area or specific estimated restoral times. For the most part, we've been dealing with some scattered outages and restoral depends on the customer issue. Of course, our goal is always to restore service to our customers as quickly and safely as possible.

If customers are having a problem with their Verizon service, they should call 1-800-VERIZON to let us know. Reimbursements for lost service are handled on a case-by-case basis.

From a Comcast representative:

The vast majority of issues had been directly related to commercial power outages and, for most customers, service was restored as power came back on in their neighborhoods following the storm. Given the severity of the storm, we also saw some more extensive damage caused by fallen trees, poles and flooding that has taken longer to repair. We have had thousands of employees working across the footprint to assess and repair damage in impacted areas as they have been provided clearance that it's safe to do so. Thanks to the tireless work of our employees, many of whom were personally affected by the storm, we've made tremendous progress, and appreciate our customers' patience and understanding. For any customer who might still be experiencing issues with their service, they can call 1-800-COMCAST.

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