Telephone companies struggled to restore service and measure the damage to their networks in Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday after Hurricane Katrina cut power and triggered severe flooding.
A spokesman for BellSouth Corp., the largest local telephone company in the region, said while the company estimated about 53,000 lines were out in the two states, the actual numbers were likely to be higher.
Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. said cellular service in the area had been affected as well.
All three companies said power losses were the main threat to further service failures, but that flooding was hampering their efforts to reach network equipment.
Entergy Corp. reported more than a million customers without power in Louisiana and Mississippi, and warned customers to expect a long and difficult restoration that could take weeks.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told television station WWL that 80 percent of the city was under water, and authorities declared martial law in some areas.
Fergie (Paul Ferguson) wrote:
Telephone companies struggled to restore service
FYI - if you are trying to reach someone in the impacted area who has a cell phone but you can't get thru because "all circuits are busy" then give SMS a try. I exchanged 8 SMS messages between 15:58 and 16:21 PDT today with a friend in Baton Rouge that I had been unable to contact via email or phone since after the storm passed. SMS went straight thru with no noticeable delays. If your contact has a working cell phone (hasn't run the battery dead or gotten it wet) within reach of a working cell tower, you may be able to at least get word that they are OK.
 A brief summary regarding conditions in Baton Rouge (BR):
"Kind of Crazy in BR but nothing damagewise like in NO and in Mississippi. We have a large number of our NO employees who evacuated to our BR office. They cannot return home - they can't even start repairs there until the water is pumped so they are helping us restore service to the BR area. For the latest info see the Katrina Blog at wwltv.com."