Friday, February 18, 2000

Phones out for days in Morrow

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORROW — Hundreds of homes and businesses here struggled without working telephones all week after cable damage blamed on flooding overnight Sunday.

        Three schools and a nursing home were among the 500-plus locations that lost service for at least part of the week as Sprint first dried out the flooded man hole, then tried to fix the cables and ultimately decided they had to be replaced.

        All service was restored by Thursday evening.

        “It's been an experience, it really has,” said Little Miami Schools Superintendent Michael Virelli. “You don't realize how blessed you are by communication with the outside world until you have it taken away from you.”

        Residents considered themselves lucky that the worst emergency they had was when a retirement home resident had to drive to the fire department Monday to get help for another resident who had trouble breathing. Help arrived in time, said Fire Chief Fred La Follette, who is also the village administrator.

        Sprint later provided wireless phones to the home, as well as to schools, the pharmacy and other vital businesses, while its crews worked around the clock to fix the problem.

        But the lack of regular phone service remained a safety concern for some such as Anne Cox, who lives with her diabetic husband in a rural area 11/2 miles outside Morrow. “If something would happen, what are you going to do?” Mrs. Cox said.

        Sprint is one of eight service providers in Warren County, covering an area from Waynesville to Mason.

        The lack of phone service hurt businesses' bottom line.

        Until Morrow Dental Center's service was restored Wednesday, patients couldn't get through either to make appointments or cancel them, said receptionist Cathy Oeder.

        “People dropped in and said, "I have a toothache,'” she said, or they simply didn't show up.

        All in all, said Chief La Follette, “I think people have done pretty good. I know some of them now are starting to lose it, but I think some people have actually enjoyed it.”


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