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Outage interrupts phones, internet in Hamilton County

Phone and internet outages were reported across Iowa on Thursday after a water line break flooded a key telecommunications company building in downtown Des Moines.

Hamilton County was affected.

The outage began Thursday morning and continued into the afternoon, blocking 911 landline calls in the Des Moines area and calls to area hospitals. Cell phone calls to 911 were still being completed.

In Hamilton County, the land lines for the courthouse were working sporadically, according to Kim Schaa, county auditor.

“Every once in a while a call comes through,” she said.

But for the most part, successful connections were due to cell phone usage.

That was the best advice in the case of an emergency, Schaa said: Use a cell phone to call 911.

Hamilton County Supervisor Jerry Kloberdanz shared the following email:

Due to an issue with a service provider, Central Iowa residents (Including Hamilton County Residents), services, businesses, and emergency services providers may be experiencing phone and/or internet issues.

Importantly, 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones are being received at this time. However, landline phones have been impacted and may not be able to complete calls, including to 9-1-1. Automatic alarm systems may also be unable to complete calls to emergency services.

Due to the nature of the malfunction, services impacted vary between locations.

At this time, recommended actions include:

· If you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone.

· If you have an automated alarm system, dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone to report the alarm.

· Follow local media, and official social media pages for updates on impacted or restored services.

Van Diest Medical Center said its Fort Dodge clinic was having difficulty with calls. It suggested that callers who need to contact the Fort Dodge Clinic call the Webster City clinic instead. That number is 515-832-9400.

According to The Associated Press, the problems were blamed on a water line break at communication company Lumen Technologies’ building in downtown Des Moines. Water leaked through parts of the building, causing the outage in part because workers needed to power down equipment, according to the Iowa Communications Network, a fiber optic network that serves government and public safety agencies.

“Our techs are working hard to fix a service disruption, caused by a water pipe break, which is affecting landline 911, phone, and Internet service for some customers in Central and Eastern Iowa,” a Lumen spokesperson said in an email.

Some internet providers in the affected areas — CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber — are part of Lumen.

County and local officials across the state were advising Iowans that 911 call centers are operational but calls from landline phones could not be completed, automatic alarm systems might not be functioning properly and administrative lines may be down.

Notices indicated officials had not been given a timeline for service to be restored. Lumen told The Associated Press: “Restoring impacted services is our top priority.”

Many UnityPoint and MercyOne health care facilities across the state also posted on social media that their phone systems are down because of the Lumen outage.

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