09/05/12 8:00am
09/05/2012 8:00 AM

Most of the more than 135 Shelter Island homeowners who lost service  after an unknown vandal severed a cable in hopes of swiping valuable copper last Wednesday night had seen their service restored by Tuesday, according to Verizon officials.

The phone company could not say exactly how many customers were affected, said spokesman John Bonomowho noted that 138 customers contacted the company to complain, but others never reported the problem because neighbors had told them the company was working on the problem.

The outage occurred last Wednesday night when the Verizon line that crosses underwater to Shelter Island was cut above ground east of the town beach at the end of Sixth Street in Greenport. The line connects many landline phones on Shelter Island to Verizon’s main lines.

Even though the line has been repaired, Mr. Bonomo said a few customers still might have problems making calls, with some getting wrong numbers. “That can be corrected easily,” he said, “but it entails our crews identifying each line from the central office and cross-boxes or terminals located on the island.”

As for the cost of the repairs, there was no dollar tally yet, he said, but the company incurred expenses for employee overtime as work continued around the clock in 12-hour shifts. In addition, there will be the cost of materials involved in fixing the cable.

Having to deploy workers to the cable site meant they weren’t available for other jobs, Mr. Bonomo said.

The repairs were time-consuming because the damaged cord contained bundled wire pairs that had to be identified and linked, according to Verizon splicer Tom Meyer, who worked on the job over the weekend.

“We’ll be working all day and night until this is resolved,” he said as he worked Saturday morning. “The police are aware of the situation.”

Southold Town police declined to comment on the incident this week.

Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty called it “unacceptable” that it would take so many days to resolve the problem. He said town should consider using two phone providers for landlines in the future, so there is redundancy in the case of an emergency with one.

Verizon placed posters near where the wire was cut indicating that anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of someone who intentionally damaged the cable could receive a reward of up to $50,000.

Gianna Volpe contributed reporting to this story.

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09/01/12 1:43pm
09/01/2012 1:43 PM
Greenport, Shelter Island, Verizon

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Verizon workers Scott Hickerson and Tom Meyer at work in Greenport.

Verizon employees are working around the clock to repair a severed phone cord that runs from Greenport to Shelter Island, Verizon officials said.

A would-be thief cut the cord — about the width of a grapefruit — Wednesday night at the shoreline just east of the town beach in an attempt to steal copper wiring, said Verizon splicer Tom Meyer.

But the person succeeded only in cutting phone service to many Shelter Island phone lines.

Those lines remain out of service as of Saturday and could continue to be out of service until the cord is completely repaired.

Because the large cord is made up of bundles of wire pairs, which represent specific phone lines, Verizon employees must first identify each line and ensure it is working before they put the bundle back together again, Mr. Meyer said.

“We’ll be working all day and night until this is resolved,” he said as he worked Saturday morning. “The police are aware of the situation.”

The employees work in 12-hour shifts.

Scott Hickerson, another splicer, said the job could take another three or four days before it is completed. The so-called submarine cord runs under the water to Shelter Island from Greenport.

Southold police officers said they could not comment until the chief and captain return to work after the three-day break Tuesday.

Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty called it “unacceptable” that it would take so many days to resolve the problem.

He said the town should consider using two phone providers for land lines in the future, so there is redundancy in the case of an emergency with one.

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With Peter Boody