Phone customers off hook since Christmas

CenturyLink to restore service after driver crashes car into equipment

CenturyLink plans to finish restoring service today to several hundred Durango-area homes that have been without phone service since Christmas Day because of a car accident. Some homes also lost Internet service.

Randy Arause, spokesman for CenturyLink Colorado, said the company hoped to have service to most homes repaired Friday and will finish re-establishing connections in outlying locations through today.

Early Christmas morning, a driver crashed a car into CenturyLink equipment on U.S. Highway 550/160 near Home Depot, which severed connection to all clients south of Home Depot. The exact number of homes impacted is unknown.

Lt. Ray Shupe, spokesman for the Durango Police Department, said a CenturyLink worker called the police at 2:46 a.m. to report a hit-and-run crash on South Camino del Rio near Escalante Drive. The caller reported the crash had occurred at about 1:20 a.m.

There was no damage estimate.

Arause said the crash damaged the fiber-optic network, equipment that acts as a central point to gather and disperse voice and broadband services to different locations.

We had people on site all Christmas Day working, said Arause.

Those affected by the outages struggled to communicate with their families Christmas Day, one of the most popular days for phone calls to friends and family.

Laurie Kain, whose 87-year-old mother, Joyce, is one of those without service, said she had to give her mother a cellphone so they could communicate.

Kain said the outage has been difficult for her mom, who uses Lifeline Medical Alert Services, an emergency medical service that responds to alerts sent from a home line.

Its the fact that she is 87 and lives alone, said Kain of the service outage. If something happened to her, it would be bad.

Arause said the outages have taken several days to repair because the company has needed to order several kinds of equipment that were damaged in the crash.

It is taking some time, said Arause, but it is no failure on our part and no fault of our own.

He said workers have been at the site every day since Christmas.

Kain said she had called the company several times to see why her mother had no service, but was unsatisfied with the help it offered.

If you write them they tell you to call the repair line, and then you are on hold forever, she said. She said she gave them her mothers cellphone number several times and asked them to call and inform her about the progress with the outages.

You never get a call back, she said.

Arause said it is not unusual for the company to not send announcements out to homes undergoing service outages unless it is during an emergency. During major outages that affect thousands of customers, the company will post information on its site giving customers a number to call for information.

herald@durangoherald.com

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