Friday, November 8, 2013

In The Dark - Day 4.5

The County finally declared a State of Emergency and put out a press release.
Meeting in special session today, the San Juan County Council unanimously voted to declare “A State of Emergency within San Juan County, Washington.”
The declaration came on the fourth day since the failure of an underwater communications cable disrupted cell and landline telephone connections with the mainland. It is hoped that the declaration will enable public agencies to recover extraordinary costs incurred due to the outage and qualify local businesses for assistance.
The outage initially knocked out telephone communications between islands and to the mainland, including 911 emergency response lines and, though 911 service was restored Thursday, communications with the mainland remains limited.
The outage has interrupted other vital services that depend on Internet, cell or telephone service, including the Lifeline service used primarily by seniors and disabled persons.
The Sheriff and other emergency responders have also expressed concern that even citizens who have cell phone service, cannot reach local phone numbers, including emergency agencies, because all cell phone calls are currently processed on the mainland. Arrangements are now being made for emergency dispatch calls to be routed through Island County, but in the meantime cell phone users are being urged to try to use a landline phone to report emergencies.
“People have been coping with the inconveniences, but it is affecting essential services,” said Council Member Rick Hughes, who chaired the emergency meeting.
Some banks have had to close or restrict transactions because their data lines cannot connect to the mainland. Local lodging places, in areas that have no internet services as well as phone outages, have no way to accept reservations. Medical personnel on the mainland can’t call or fax prescriptions to local pharmacies and there is a concern that residents with families on the mainland can’t check on their well-being.
Fire departments and volunteers have gone door to door in many sections of the County to check on older or disabled neighbors.
“The community has really pulled together and found ways to deal with this”, Hughes said. “But as time goes on, the cost of coping has increased for our business community as well as the government, and our concerns about our ability to ensure the well-being of our residents are growing.”
The Council noted that CenturyLink, the company responsible for the services which have been interrupted, is putting its full resources and personnel to work to restore the services, however there is currently no firm estimate of when full services will be restored.
The latest statement from CenturyLink indicates that limited service to the mainland may be available within the next 48 hours. Full restoration of service will likely take several more days.
And as reported on the, a barge with divers and robotics is investigating the cable and will release information about 5:30 pm today.


  1. This is what the San Juan Tourist Board is saying on their web page:

    Need a break from your cell phone and email? Now might be the perfect time to visit the San Juans. After a couple days of disruption, internet and phone companies are working hard to restore full phone and internet service to the islands. Most visitor-related businesses and attractions are open. It's best to have some cash or checks on hand until use of credit card machines is restored everywhere.

    And on Facebook

    "Despite the communications issues, this is a great time to come to the islands! The weather is beautiful, there are plenty of rooms available, and restaurants are serving up the best of autumn's harvest! Most businesses have email capability, so come on up and get away "to" it all!"

    Are they out of their minds?!?

  2. Here's a great post on geek wire.

    Good juxtaposition with the Tourist Board comments and Rick Hughes' comments is this quote from someone who just visited the islands.

    It was like “some post-apocalyptic scene of people standing around with laptops, hungry for internets,” one person who was there told us via email, after returning from the San Juans and rejoining the connected world.

    And then there is the quote from Senator Ranker who talks about fixing our "ethernet."


  3. Seriously. Fixing our Ethernet?? Please post a link to this.

    Don't drop that box Kevin, you'll break the Ethernet and boy then you'll be sorry. Let the professionals do their job.

  4. It's part of the geek wire article. Here is the link again.

  5. Yes, it's a statement from Ranker, a portion of which is copied on geek wire, but the entire quote is on the Journal blog (

    Here is the full statement of Ranker:

    "It is confirmed that a deep water offshore cable was completely severed. CenturyLink has divers and an ROV (Remotely operated vehicle) on scene. The ultimate goal will be to replace the entire 14,000′ cable, but locating that length of fiber-optic cable will take time. In the meantime two more immediate actions are underway. First, CenturyLink is working with OPALCO to do a short term Ethernet fix so that our entire county would have 911 availability as soon as possible – maybe as soon as late today. Secondly, CenturyLink has identified 6,000 feet of cable that could be used as a temporary fix that would give all county residents all services.

    Jeff Morris, Kris Lytton and I will continue to do everything in our power to help address this crisis. To this end, last night Jeff and I had a lengthy conversation regarding what steps need to be taken to create the necessary redundancy so that when this sort of situation happens again, it does not cause a complete disruption in services. All three of us will continue this conversation.

    As a final point I must add that we are all incredibly lucky to have Rep. Jeff Morris representing us. He is a national leader on energy and telecommunications. He understands the technology and industry and has decades old personal and professional relationships with key individuals. His leadership the past 24hours has been tremendous."

  6. I wonder if Jeff Morris understands technology well enough to point out that Ranker's use of the term "ethernet" makes Ranker look a tad cave-manish and out-of-touch.

  7. Wouldn't you love to see a conversation between Ranker and Dubya about technology? They'd end up arguing if Al Gore invented the "ethernets."

  8. Guys, go easy on Ranker. For all we know, CenturyNoLink really does think this is an ethernet problem! It might be an accurate quote.

  9. Now even DEM is saying it:

    "For visitors thinking of coming up: islands are open for business and visitors. What better way to disconnect from busy city life than to come up this weekend?

    Help spread the word!"

    I repeat. Are they out of their minds?!?

  10. Go easy on Ranker? No freakin' way. Like when he went easy on us when he was head of the friends and on the county council.
    Kevin used us as a stepping stone chasing the big wave. How the Senator and consulting business thing going?
    You left, please stay away and stop pretending that you care. Thank you.

  11. A "short-term Ethernet fix"???? Makes me wonder if Ranker is envisioning an Ethernet cable about 14 miles long strung from trees starting from a laptop at the Starbucks in Anacortes to trees on the Sperry peninsula and then across Lopez to Friday Harbor.

    People made fun of Ted Stevens understanding of the intertubes & Ranker's ranks right up there.

  12. Oh that's embarrassing. That's classic. The thing of it is, he has no clue how dumb he looks.

  13. I have a mental image of Ranker, Morris, and Lytton in the Radio Shack in Anacortes asking if they have 3 miles of Ethernet cable in stock.

  14. Senator Ranker went to say:

    "My Ethernet plan is designed to partner with CenturyLink to build duplicity into the current system."

  15. Ranker's statement said: "Jeff Morris, Kris Lytton and I will continue to do everything in our power to help address this crisis. To this end, last night Jeff and I had a lengthy conversation regarding what steps need to be taken .."

    And therein lies the probem with relying on the FOSJ, the Luddites, the bee-savers and the other Flat Earthers for much of anything - their idea of "doing everything in their power" is to "have a conversation". In really dire situations, a "lengthy" conversation.