When superstorm Sandy struck, it left people dead in flooded and
wave-washed communities - and it caused power outages that cut off
crucial communications for hundreds of thousands more. Lost access
to cellphones, the Internet and cable television added to the
Wireless phone providers told the Federal Communications Commission that the day after Sandy's Oct. 29 landing, more than 25 percent of cellphone service went out in the 158 counties in 10 states most affected by the storm.
A just-released study from the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute found that U.S. Internet outages spiked to almost twice the normal level just after the storm made landfall and didn't return to normal for about four days.
Another analysis by the consulting firm Renesys concluded that about 10 percent of Internet service failed in Manhattan in the first days of the storm, meaning 90 percent still worked.
Clearly, making sure power supplies are more stable would help keep cellphones and Internet links working. But emergency planners need to recognize how vulnerable many Americans are; even those with landlines may lose phone service if it's bundled to Internet and cable.
High-tech warnings may be fine in advance, but recovery guidance may have to be delivered by more traditional means.
You can't surf the Internet with a radio, but even a one-way tie to the rest of the world is better than sitting in the dark with no news at all.
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