FCC Launches DIRS System for Hurricane Maria

Communications providers in Puerto Rico, V.I. asked to report

The FCC has again activated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), this time for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The FCC also activated DIRS, the voluntary communications status reporting system for broadcast, cable and phone service providers, after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the latter also for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Maria, with catastrophic flooding and what the Washington Post was described as Puerto Rico’s power grid “effectively wiped away.”

In fact, the FCC specified that service providers who had reported info on the impact of Hurricane Irma should file new Maria-specific reports on Sept. 21 rather than updating existing reports from Irma; then, starting Sept. 22, they should update the new Maria report.

The FCC is accepting applications for special temporary authorities that allow broadcasters, cable, broadband and phone providers to remain on the air or get back up in ways not authorized by their various licenses.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai weighed in on the devastation and what the FCC could do to help.

“Hurricane Maria has had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico’s communications networks," he said. "For example, over 95% of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites are currently out of service. The FCC is proactively reaching out to communications providers in Puerto Rico to gather additional information about the situation on the ground and find out if there is anything that the Commission can do to assist with restoration efforts. We are also working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and providing all requested support. Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island. But the FCC stands ready to do whatever we can to help with this task. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.”