FCC's Pai, Clyburn to Assess Hurricane Irma Damage First-Hand

More than 50 radio stations, nine TV stations off air

The bipartisan duo ofFCC ChairmanAjit Pai and Democratic CommissionerMignon Clyburn will travel together to Florida Sept. 18 to assess the damage from Hurricane Irma.

The FCC tracked the status of communications during the storm and provided assistance to those who needed special temporary authorities (STAs) to remain on the air or get back on the air in a manner not consistent with terms of their licenses.

While in Florida, the pair will get updates on efforts to restore communications to affected areas.

Related: FCC Extends Disaster Reporting System for Hurricane Irma to Georgia, Alabama

According to the most recent Hurricane Irma FCC status report — gleaned from the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) voluntary reporting system for counties in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than half the cell sites in the Virgin Islands (53.8%) remain out of service, compared with 55.1% the day before; a quarter of the cell sites (24.6%) in Florida were still down, an improvement from 27.4% on Monday (the latest figures are from 11 a.m., Sept. 12).

For Puerto Rico, the total was 14.5% of sites, down from 19.4% in the previous report; Georgia, 10.5%; and Alabama, less than 1%.

According to the FCC, 51 radio stations were out of service across the affected areas, up significantly from 25 as of 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11. Nine TV stations were off the air, one more than the day before.

No TV stations were off air in Alabama or Georgia, but Florida had three — WVFW, WGCU and WSBS — up from two the day before. Puerto Rico had four stations off the air — WOST, WMEI, WQQZ and WWKQ — the same as the day before, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had two —WTJX and SO5AWD, also holding steady from Monday.

“Hurricane Irma has had a serious impact on communications networks in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Pai said of the planned visit. “The FCC is committed to supporting recovery efforts, and I am grateful for the work that first responders, emergency personnel, and state and local partners are doing to restore service in affected areas.”

Clyburn added: “I am grateful that Chairman Pai extended the offer for me to join him in Florida on Monday to inspect the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Together we will gain insight into our collective efforts to restore vital communications services."

(Photo via The National Guard’s flickr and taken by Senior Airman Kayla K. Edwards. Image taken on Sept. 12, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit a 4x3 aspect ratio.)