Repair crews are working around the clock to get cell towers that are damaged or deprived of power due to Hurricane Sandy running again, and these heroic efforts are beginning to show results, according to FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief David Turetsky.
He said that the proportion of cell towers that are out of service in the region affected by Sandy has fallen
from 25% in the immediate aftermath to 19% at the end of the week.
Although it is rare for cell phone towers to topple over in high winds, electronic and structural elements are vulnerable to windblown debris and flooding at ground level, and emergency backup generators may also begin to run out of fuel.
According to The New York Times, state and federal authorities have reached agreements with major fuel suppliers to secure enough gasoline and diesel to enable further emergency operations, including search and rescue, cleanup, and repair work.
Presumably some fuel has also been set aside for generators powering communications networks. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted that “the supply of fuel to generators is
essential to keep communications service up and running, and we’re working with federal, state, and local authorities to speed fuel delivery. This is a priority because our commercial
communications networks are essential to emergency response and recovery efforts, as well as to commercial activities and connecting with family.”
Of course, continuing power outages can also render individual mobile devices inoperative, further disrupting communications networks.
According to Reuters, on Friday afternoon over 1.2 million homes and businesses in New York State and 1.5 million in New Jersey were still without power, including 569,000 in New York City and Westchester County, NY. Across the Northeast a total of about 3.6 million customers are without power, down from 8.5 million immediately following the storm.