Verizon customers across Cape Ann continued to struggle with downed Internet and cable access throughout much of Tuesday, but modem lights began to flicker back on one-by-one in many areas late Tuesday afternoon.
Verizon spokesman Philip Santoro conceded Tuesday afternoon that the Cape Ann outages of the last two days have been tied to a Lawrence fire, which broke out early Monday morning when a mattress under the Central Bridge burned and ravaged copper and fiber optic connections.
“The damage is so severe that right now it’s difficult to detect how many are affected,” Santoro said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t have an estimate yet (on when service will be restored), because it is so complex that it’s difficult to assess at this point.”
Though some Cape Ann businesses and individuals still awaited an Internet fix late Tuesday, Verizon had restored service to many by the end of the day, and repaired lines to the Manchester Police Department’s phones shortly after noon Tuesday as part of an effort to ensure the connectivity of police departments statewide.
During the outage, calls to the departments non-emergency line sometimes failed to reach the station, but 911 lines remained active, according to police dispatcher Ryan Machian.
“People with emergencies can certainly get in touch with us still,” Machian said Tuesday morning.
Verizon also restored service to thousands of Verizon customers in the Lawrence and Andover areas overnight Monday, according to a prepared statement issued by the company Tuesday.
Verizon’s New England president of operations, Allison Cole, vowed that the company would be working 24-hour days at the fire site “and they won’t stop until every one of our customers is back in service.”
The restorations began reaching Cape Ann customers late Tuesday afternoon. But, in the meantime, businesses like Gloucester’s Biomarine Laboratory, for a second day, had to work around the absence of a technology that is central to their work.
Laboratory director Jim Groleau said the company, which analyzes water and seafood then usually emails reports to customers, was without Internet and email until 3 p.m. Tuesday. So, the company sent faxes instead of emails and hand wrote shipping labels instead of printing them from the Internet.
“It’s inefficient and it just throws a wrench in the way that we do business,” Groleau said Tuesday afternoon. “Faxing is just not a format that people really use anymore.”
Groleau said he hoped the widespread outages would push Verizon into action, but also noted an implication of the large number of towns affected.
“The more squeaky the wheels, the more grease you get,” Groleau said. “It’s just frustrating that one major cable that goes under a bridge has this much potential. It shows that someone could just cut a major cord like that and cripple a major business if they wanted to. It shows how vulnerable we all really are.”
As Verizon rebooted Internet service to customers bunch by bunch, Groleau said he felt lucky that Internet was restored to Biomarine Laboratory in the late afternoon, preventing the laboratory from spending two full business days without it.
“There’s just some catching up to do. It fortunately came on with a few more hours in the business day to crank some work out,” Groleau said. “Thank goodness it came on when it did.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.