Fla. Ops: Charley Out, Frances In


The struggle to recover from Hurricane Charley has helped Florida’s operators to cope with the latest hurricane, Labor Day weekend’s unwelcome visitor, Frances.

Company officials said backup repair crews were still in the state when Frances struck, and they will continue with recovery efforts.

Many repeated strategies they used in August. For instance, Adelphia Communications Corp. closed its West Palm Beach, Fla., call center as the storm approached and rerouted traffic to other centers across the country. Executives declared their plant in “relatively good shape” and expected all headends, hubs and nodes to be operational by Thursday.

Adelphia has 700,000 customers in Florida, 600,000 of which were without service late Monday, mostly due to lack of power.

Bright House Networks, hardest-hit by Charley, came through Frances without as much trauma, spokeswoman Jennifer Mooney said.

The company’s local news channel, Tampa’s Bay News 9, became an important information resource, she added, as its audio was contained in an emergency override of AM stations so residents could listen to the coverage on battery-powered radios.

Bright House was subjected to criticism from some local officials for its post-Charley recovery efforts, even though the company’s repair schedule was on par with those of other telecommunications providers.

Mooney said the operator created public-service announcements that it aired on broadcast and cable stations between the storms to explain its recovery efforts to the public and to note that cable repairs can’t be made until power is restored and it’s physically safe to enter neighborhoods.

Bright House, Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable were still assessing the extent of damage from this latest storm.

BellSouth Corp. was warning Florida customers that it might take up to two weeks in some areas to restore telephone and digital-subscriber-line service.

As of Tuesday, 1.3 million homes were still without power, according to Florida Power & Light. Lack of power hampers efforts to determine which cable plant is still functional.