Hurricane Irma: Senators ask FEMA for help restoring cell coverage


Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are asking FEMA for help restoring cell phone coverage knocked out by Hurricane Irma.

In a letter to FEMA Administrator William Long, the pair asked the agency to “coordinate with relevant federal, state and local officials to facilitate the ability of communications companies to access affected areas, assess damage to their networks and restore service.”

As of Tuesday, 24 percent of Florida’s wireless communication systems were inoperable. In Palm Beach County, it was 33 percent, according to a Federal Communications Commission report. In Monroe County, which includes the hard-hit Keys, it was 82 percent.

Hurricane Irma: Get the latest news and information on the storm

The problem could have dangerous consequences. Most people haven’t been able to make phone calls or send text messages. And as of Tuesday, 29 911 call centers were either not operating or operating at reduced capacity, according to the FCC.

The problems can mostly be chalked up to the extraordinary number of outages throughout the state. Many cell towers are running on generators, if they’re operating at all.

A T-Mobile spokeswoman told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday that the problem is worse than it was in Houston following historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, since that city mostly didn’t lose power.



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