Massive communications failure in North Adams

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (WWLP) -  Most cell service in North Adams is out right now, due to a communication failure. The main radio towers on Florida Mountain have collapsed due to the recent heavy rains and highs winds.

According to Lt. Tom Grady of the Berkshire County Sherriff’s office two towers that house cellular communication are down for the city of North Adams. The entire city is affected.

Lt. Grady said Verizon, Nextel and Sprint are down but AT&T is working.

One tower fell on top of the other in the mountains east of Route 2. Emergency service crews believe it was caused by last night’s storm, but the investigation is still ongoing.

The towers are well over a hundred feet tall, so it could take months to repair the towers, although they are hoping cell service can be restored by Sunday night. They say there are still some pockets in the city where you can get service. Phone companies are trying to set up portable cell service.

Road signs are going to be put up around the city, notifying drivers that there is no cell service.

North Adams is notifying residents through a reverse 911 system.

The North Adams Department of Public Safety released an emergency message stating, “Due to high winds and heavy rain throughout the night, the radio towers on top of Florida Mountain have collapsed. This has resulted in the loss or significant interruption of cell and internet services in the North Adams area.”

According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, North Adams has activated its Emergency Operations Center to manage this incident. Agencies and organizations, as well as Mayor Dick Alcombright and Senator Downing are at the EOC.

Some short-term solutions that are being discussed include moving critical communications antennas and equipment to a nearby building. Work for this solution will begin today, and communications coverage may begin to expand as early as tonight or tomorrow. FEMA is assisting MEMA to coordinate with the three cellular companies that had equipment on the tower to move temporary equipment to the area.

The long-term solution is to rebuild the fallen tower, which has already been committed to.

The State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire County District Attorneys Office and State Police Crime Scene Services have inspected the collapsed tower and have found no indications of intentional/criminal activity.

They are urging residents to make calls using home phones in case of emergencies, and police will be monitoring Facebook  http://tinyurl.com/nanxfyk if residents are unable to contact public safety via telephone. They’re encouraged to tune radios to WNAW 1230 AM and stay with 22News for updates.

You can contact the North Adams Police Department at 413-664-4944 then press #1 for Dispatch, or at NAPD911@gmail.com.

A police dispatcher said a portable tower and transmitters are being installed to provide crucial communications for the city of about 13,500 residents.

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