Recovery efforts are now in full swing for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which has left at least 55 people dead on the East Coast and knocked out power for millions of others. To make matters worse, many found themselves without cell phone or broadband service, both of which may sound like luxuries, but are capable of relaying critical emergency information in times like this. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Sandy took down 25 percent of the cell towers in 158 counties in 10 states sprawling from Massachusetts to Virginia.
"Our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks because of the flooding and loss of power," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call, according to CNet
Sandy took a similar toll on cable networks, leaving 1 in 4 without broadband service. While the initial damage is done, it could be several days or even weeks before services are fully restored, due to the loss of power.
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"We've seen broadband and social media continue to play an important role in communication for people during this storm," Genachowski added. "Social media is a critical platform for sharing information with loved ones. And it's been vital in keeping those other communications networks open for first responders."
Even some 911 call centers were affected, though the FCC says it was limited to just a few. Some of the affected call centers had their calls rerouted to a backup center, though in some cases it was without the automatic location information that they usually receive.