OHIO COUNTY, W. Va. (WTRF) – Ohio County 911 was hit with a “planned outage” by Frontier Communications just as the winter storm intensified overnight.
911 Director Theresa Russell told Frontier two days earlier that this timing would be disastrous.
We had already been on the phone with the National Weather Service and we knew what we were in for,. So, I asked them to postpone the repair until next week.Theresa Russell, Ohio County 911 Director
She said the person she spoke with told her that hopefully “common sense will prevail.”
But it didn’t.
At 1:00 a.m. on Friday, all Ohio County’s 911 lines went down in the midst of the ice storm that was causing massive power outages.
There were 17,000 customers between Ohio and Marshall County that were already without power. There was a tractor-trailer on its side on I-470 so the westbound lane was shut down and I believe we had an accident on I-70.Theresa Russell, Ohio County 911 Director
7News reached out to Frontier Communications for their response.
There is never a good time to do scheduled maintenance. It was just something the team thought was warranted. It just had to be done. There was no danger to life and limb. Calls were rerouted to Marshall County. No one was left without access to 911.Brigid Smith, Frontier Communications
But Theresa Russell said her dispatchers were exhausted and Frontier could have postponed the planned outage but chose not to.
They are our sole provider in the State of West Virginia responsible for bringing these calls in. We should be their number one priority at this point. This is what the public expects. This is what the public pays for. They deserve a service. They deserve one the works.Theresa Russell, Ohio County 911 Director
Russell added that her department knows all too well what happens in this area during an ice storm. Massive power outages occur. She said she communicated that to Frontier, but it didn’t make a difference.