Internet outage causes havoc in SW La.

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 16, 2022

SOS. That was found in the upper right hand corner of many AT&T-served cell phone screens Thursday morning. Service was off beginning at around 8:30 a.m. until around 3 p.m.

In Downtown Lake Charles, a few business and government offices closed their doors.

The American Press downtown office was also affected and had to shut down for a good portion of the day.

Sasol sent employees and contractors home early, according to a report from a restaurant worker’s conversation with those workers.

A fast food restaurant couldn’t take credit cards or cash, but at Luna’s, a popular downtown eatery, it was business as usual, almost. Heather Chehotsky’s shift had just begun around 10 a.m. and she wondered why the phone wasn’t ringing.

“We would have had 20 or so calls by now,” she said. “But the credit card machine is working.”

Ryan Dickerson owns 1:16 Nutrition. His Point of Sale (POS) software was working from a Verizon Hotspot. Round Top Burger House depends on AT&T for internet and phone service. Their POS system did not.

At Bux Corner Market, word was spread the old-fashioned way when the owner said service wasn’t just out in Downtown Lake Charles. He knew of outages in Beauregard and Vernon Parishes.

Theories were tossed about. Had the Russians hacked us, a Salon Lindsey and Bespoke Hat shopper quipped. Justice continued to be served at the City Courthouse where words like corporate behemoth were tossed around. Deputy Breaux from the Marshal’s Office gave her assurances that security was intact. Rebecca Liles and Kay Bang said many folks choose to pay tickets by phone or online and wait until the last minute to do it, but they wouldn’t be able to get through until the AT&T service was repaired.

“Overall, we’ve moved to a cloud-based system, so we’re totally dependent on internet access,” said Tim Leger, Court Administrator.

Dependent on the internet for phone calls, accepting and making payments and in some cases, security, some offices could be locked up and workers sent home. West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital didn’t have that option.

A hospital spokesperson issued the statement that it remained “open and operational amid the widespread telecommunication outage. While the outage impacted the hospital, WCCH continued to provide uninterrupted care to meet the healthcare needs of the community.

Kasey Blagrave posted on social media that when she visited the AT&T store, she found out that the outage covered all of Louisiana and parts of Texas.

An AT&T spokesperson issued the following statement to the American Press at 11:40. “Our technicians are working as quickly and safely as possible to make repairs to two fiber cables damaged by severe weather. These fiber cuts are affecting the internet for some customers in the Lake Charles area,” At 3:09, AT&T emailed a more detailed report. “One cut occurred when a cable was pulled down by a passing truck. The other cut occurred by a third-party contractor digging in the area. We apologize and are doing our best to restore service.”

Service was restored shortly thereafter.

Public servants rolled with the outage. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office sent out an email – to those who could receive email, at least. Their phones were down, but 911 was in service. Terri Parker, Ward 6, District 1 Fire Station said she was operating “old school.” She had made wi-fi calls – not using AT&T – to firefighters to tell them to carry their radios constantly.