October 31, 2012
By CableFAX Staff
Despite making landfall, Hurricane Sandy continues to churn across the U.S. Here’s a rundown of how government agencies, MSOs and cable nets have weathered the storm thus far.
*FCC chmn Julius Genachowski during a Tues press call said communications outages could get worse before they get better. David Turetsky, public safety & homeland security chief, said initial reports suggest that 25% of communications services across platforms (including cable) were affected in areas hit by Sandy. The agency granted 5 Special Temporary Authorities to 2 power companies and 3 broadcasters to help assist recovery and reach audiences.
*Comcast is making its Xfinity WiFi hotspots available along the East Coast to anyone who needs them, including non-subs. The op continues to work with local, state and federal officials, including FEMA, DHS and the FCC, and power companies.
*The severe flooding left NYC without power or mass transit Tues. Time Warner Cable’s corporate hq closed again Tues, but the MSO is not reporting any significant damage to its infrastructure. TWC stores in NYC (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jamaica) were open Tues, TWC NYC tweeted.
*With most subs residing in the hardest hit areas, including NY, NJ, CT and parts of PA, Cablevision is experiencing “widespread service interruptions, primarily related to the loss of power,” the company said in a statement. Crews are in the field, working around-the-clock to restore services, in close coordination with local utilities, it said.
*Cox is “actively working downed drops in VA, RI and CT” and deploying generators in the 3 states, plus Cleveland. Additional generators are en route, as well as gas dispensing tanks. Nearly all Cox retail stores are open in RI and CT Tues. However, in Cleveland, 1/3 of Cox’s footprint was without power early Tues, and weather conditions were still unsafe. Crews are on standby for mobilization.
*Charter reported “minimal damage to our cable lines, and our network remained operational,” said Gregory Garabedian, vp/gm, New England, in a statement. Charter’s crews are “out there, working long hours” as the op works to restore services, he said.
*A Verizon rep said 2 critical switching centers in Manhattan were “severely affected” from flooding and power outage issues. The flooding that began to impact a handful of Verizon central offices in Lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island Mon night remains the same, he said. While these sites are currently on battery power, the inevitable loss of power requires all equipment at these sites be powered down to prevent damage, he said. As a result, subs served by these central offices will lose their FiOS, HIS and telephone services.
*As Hurricane Sandy pummeled NY, some Time Warner Cable subscribers thought they had lost the MSO’s 24-hour news net NY1. With power out in Lower Manhattan, the net was working off of a generator. So, it was on the air, but not in HD... hence the confusion. The net was back in HD after about 2 hours.
*Reporting missteps along the way included CNN issuing a correction after network meteorologist Chad Myers noted 3 feet of water on the floor of the NYSE (his source was a National Weather Service local storm report, which attributed it to media, the Washington Post reports. The rumor seems to have started on Twitter, the same source of those fake Statue of Liberty photos).
*The D.C. area wasn’t hit as hard as some had feared. C-SPAN reported no major problems, with “Washington Journal” airing live as normal. As a precaution, about 50-60 staffers hunkered down in hotels near the studio.
*Following the conclusion of the World Series, ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” commentators Karl Ravech and Curt Schilling provided a humorous Twitter look at their drive from Detroit to the Bristol area as they tried to beat the brunt of the storm and get back to help their families with possible power outages. You can check out a Storify play-by-play of their adventure with driver #FranktheTank here.
*With NY’s subway system possibly out of commission for another 4 or 5 days, expect teleworking to be the norm for the NY area this week as NBCU put essential employees up in hotels to keep broadcasts operational. The company is providing 24-hour shuttle buses from the hotels to the facilities. Some production, including “30 Rock” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” was postponed. Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen did a special Hurricane Sandy show, with no guests and in his PJs. Tonight’s show is cancelled as a result of the power outage.
*Weather Channel’s Reynolds Wolf, who was in Stonington, CT, told us he saw massive waves that looked to be at least 20 feet. “It’s a big shock that something like that is coming out of darkness,” he said. CableFAX caught up with him as he trekked to Queens where both floods and fire have damaged homes. “The amazing thing to see is a lot of people in that community were not waiting for assistance—it was neighbor helping neighbor,” he said of the coastal flooding in CT. “It’s the spirit of the Northeast. New Englanders are very hearty people.”