Hurricane Ida Impacts Communications Networks in Louisiana
Monday, August 30, 2021 | Comments

AT&T and Verizon said that Hurricane Ida has impacted their networks in areas of Louisiana.

Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday and has caused significant flooding and damage in areas around New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as other parts of Louisiana. The storm has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and is on a northeastern track.

On the morning of August 31, AT&T said its 85% of its network was operating normally. In the evening of the previous day, AT&T said that 82% of its wireless network in Louisiana was operating normally following the storm. Earlier that day, AT&T said that in Louisiana, its network was operating at 60% of capacity and had experienced significant outages in New Orleans and Baton Rouge due to power outages, flooding and storm damage.

“Our teams have been able to navigate storm damage to gain access to our network locations and we continue to deploy additional resources to assist with the recovery,” AT&T said in its afternoon statement. “We have additional generators in the region and are deploying them as needed. Commercial power may not be restored soon, and we are prepared to maintain and refuel generators until commercial power is restored.

AT&T said its network in Mississippi has seen minimal impact from the storm, and its network in Alabama has seen no impacts.

In a statement of its own, Verizon did not specify exactly how the storm had impacted its network capacity but said some sites had been impacted.

“While we are seeing sites out of service in the heaviest hit areas, overlapping sites are offering some coverage to residents and first responders who remain there,” Verizon’s statement said. “Our backup generators and batteries are running to keep many of our cell sites and facilities in service in the midst of extremely widespread commercial power outages. Once the storm subsides, and it is safe to do so, our crews will begin site assessments to prioritize repairs, move mobile assets into place as needed and activate a massive refueling operation to keep sites running until commercial power is restored. Our mobile cell sites, generators, drones, and satellite links are moving into the area from the safe zones where they were pre-staged before the storm. We will prioritize assistance for first responders, emergency operation centers and search and rescue efforts.”

Meanwhile, the FCC activated its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) as Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana.

The activation covers portions of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The DIRS is a voluntary, web-based system that communications providers can use to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during emergencies.

“Hurricane Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous storm when it makes landfall in the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “We know the reality of the danger from this kind of hurricane all too well. Our thoughts are with the residents in the path of the storm, whom we urge to prepare now, follow official tips for communicating during an emergency and heed the instructions of local officials.”

Rosenworcel said that FCC had deployed staff to affected areas prior to the storm to assess the storm’s impact on communications networks and assist in efforts to restore communications service.

“We are also coordinating with industry on emergency preparedness and pre-positioning life-saving communications equipment,” Rosenworcel said. “Today, we granted waivers of certain of our rules to better support emergency communications during the storm.”

In its communications status report for the storm on Aug. 30, the FCC said that several public-safety answering points (PSAP) had been impacted by the storm, but each PSAP was still able to provide service to the public.

The Livingston Parish 911, St. Mary Parish and Vermilion Parish 911 all reported as being operational with no location information. Orleans Parish and St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office reported that they had re-routed 9-1-1 calls to another PSPA with location information. St. Bernard Parish Fire and Sherriff’s Office and Terrebonne Parish said they had re-routed calls to administrative lines without location information.

As of that report, the FCC reported that 52.1% of communications networks were out in Louisiana and 13% of networks in Mississippi were out. The impact to networks in Alabama was minimal.

Find the full DIRS notice here.

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On 9/1/21, Terry Canning said:
It s unfortunate that you didn t report on the status of the state-wide Public Safety network in Louisiana.

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