US West telephone company is bringing in an army of technicians this weekend to repair water-soaked cables that have left hundreds of Spokane customers without service for up to 10 days.
At the height of the outages, as many as 1,000 customers didn’t have service. Routinely, 500 have been unable to make calls, US West spokeswoman Sharon Matthews said Friday.
“It was a drag,” said Cynthia Fine, whose telephone worked sporadically over a three-week period. The South Hill woman said telephone employees told her the outage was due to rain soaking into her line.
Underground cables often crack during summer heat, Matthews said, while squirrels frequently chew into overhead lines.
But problems don’t show up until the rains do.
Water has soaked many cables on the North Side and South Hill, but dry weather and Seattle-area relief crews will help, Matthews said.
Flooding west of the Cascades has kept reserve crews from making the trek until now, she said.
“We’re bringing in extra folks this weekend. We should be able to make a lot of headway,” she said.
Customers without service should go to a neighbor’s house during an emergency, Matthews said. The outages are so sporadic that some next-door homes won’t be affected.
Matthews said the problems are not related to recent layoffs, which did not affect the ranks of US West technicians.
Homeowners who lose service should call 1-800-573-1311. Business owners should call 1-800-954-1211.
Many of US West’s cables are being replaced by more durable and easier-to-fix fiber optics, Matthews said.