Phone Repairs Continue in Flooded New Hampshire

RAYMOND, N.H. -- As crews work to repair flooded telephone equipment, Verizon employees went door-to-door Saturday offering free cell phones to customers with no service and competitor Comcast continued running temporary calling centers in several towns.

Spokesman Erle Pierce says about 80 Verizon employees were knocking on doors and offering free, temporary cell phone service to customers in the 8-9-5 exchange who didn't already have cell service or service from a competitor.

"For those who don't have any communications, such as service from another provider or a cell phone, we are going to make sure they have a cell phone," Pierce said.

He said the company also gave town officials supply of cell phones to hand out.

Meanwhile, Comcast has set up temporary service in town halls, police and fire departments and schools in the affected towns, which include Raymond, Candia, Epping, Nottingham, Fremont and Auburn. The company also has set up public calling centers at the Epping Library, Candia Police Department, Raymond Town Center and Auburn Safety Center.

Comcast employees also have been going door-to-door in the affected towns, signing up customers.

Flooding knocked out Verizon's central switching station in Raymond and normal service probably won't be restored until at least the end of next week.

The outage has been a blow to businesses, who lost phones, faxes and credit-card processing machines.

In Candia, automobile recycler Jeff Kantor, believes he lost tens of thousands of dollars in business at Car World.

"I just got off the phone with a radio station, and I'm doing everything I can just to let my people know we're still here," he told the New Hampshire Union Leader on Friday. "On a day like today, we'd normally do about $6,000 or $7,000, but we're at about $840."

At ATS Equipment, General Manager Mark Cooper said he couldn't understand why people hit by the floods and power outages weren't calling for his sump pumps or generators.

"A little while later, we realized the phones were out. There's really nothing you can do about Mother Nature. We've got one incoming-only line now, and what we're doing is asking people to call us back on cell phones," he said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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