VEC phone lines down affecting unemployment claims

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Employment Commission automated phone lines that thousands of people call to file weekly unemployment claims, is not working. It has been down for days and on Monday night, crews finally figured out the reason why.

VEC leaders say this is all a Verizon problem. One of Verizon's fiber optic cables underground is broken. Crews will be working Monday night, overnight, to fix the problem. At this point, there is no estimated time when the automated phone lines will be back up and running at 100%.

There were long lines of frustrated people at state employment offices across the state.

"I was here an hour and half," said Issiac Lee.

"I was here for about 3 hours," said Delores Davis.

Two stories from the thousands of people unsuccessfully trying to file their weekly unemployment claims.

"It's aggravating because we don't have the transportation. We have to find a ride down here," added Davis.

Here's what happened--- the automated VEC claim phone lines went down Sunday morning. VEC leaders say it was a problem with Verizon and a circuit fiber optic cable it operates for the VEC.

Verizon engineers have been down at the VEC's downtown office working for hours trying to fix the problem as soon as possible.

So bottom line here --- if you file your claim this week -- you will get paid. But -- likely later than usual.

"If you normally get money on Wednesday, you will get your money. No one is going to be turned away," said Sharon Worthy with the VEC.

This isn't the first time the VEC has experienced problems. Back in May of last year people couldn't search for jobs online when VEC computers crashed. That was a VITA problem.

This time -- it wasn't VITA's fault. Still--- changes may be in the works.

"We are going to be sitting down with our IT people making sure that we understand how this happened and to mitigate this from happening again," added Worthy.

We did find out that the online way to file your unemployment claims is working, but it is very slow. That is because so many people are trying to file their claims online.

We will follow this story into Tuesday and have the latest for you, as it develops.

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