A 93-year-old Hawaii Kai woman has been unable to make or receive calls on her land line since her phone went dead Dec. 19 during a period of heavy rain.
Doris Tilden is one of an estimated 1,100 Hawaiian Telcom land-line customers currently without phone service since December and through the holidays, when calls to and from friends and family are important.
"This is the worst time of year for this to happen," said Tilden’s son, Tim, who said he is angry because he reported the problem Dec. 20, was first told the problem would be fixed by Dec. 27, then was given a Jan. 3 date. Even that day has passed, he noted.
Hawaiian Telcom spokeswoman Ann Nishida Fry said trouble calls rose following the Dec. 10-11 heavy rain and again Dec. 19, following another bout of heavy rainfall.
The company reported about 2,200 current trouble tickets, with problems ranging from static to outages. It includes multiple calls from the same customers and non-rain-related issues.
(The company was unable to provide the number of customers with rain-related problems since the flood of calls began.)
The company’s repair crews have been working overtime and holidays, and neighbor island crews were brought in to help.
"We understand that affected customers are frustrated, and apologize for their inconvenience," Nishida Fry said. "We want to assure them that we are making progress and that each customer issue will be addressed as soon as possible."
Some repairs require cutting sections of cable damaged by short circuits due to water infiltration, then painstakingly splicing in hundreds of lines on both ends.
Small pockets of isolated problems affecting one or a few customers have occurred across the island.
Equipment failure occurred in some areas caused by prolonged loss of power and water infiltration, Nishida Fry said.
In the Punahou and Aina Haina areas, a concentration of customers were hit, 140 and 70, respectively, she said.
In the Punahou area, construction crews from other companies damaged Hawaiian Telcom cables, causing small holes or cuts, without notifying the phone company, she said.
The company learned of the damage only after rainwater seeped into the cables, damaging them and affecting service, Nishida Fry said. The high-traffic area requires getting permits to close the road, working restricted hours to allow traffic to flow.