- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Phones still weren't ringing in the homes of at least 75 Verizon customers yesterday, a week after damaged underground cables caused an outage in the Georgetown and Glover Park areas of Northwest, Verizon officials said.
"Our crews have been working out in the cold day and night since New Year's Eve to fix this problem," said Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette. "We still don't know exactly how this happened, and our No. 1 priority is getting all of the phones back on."
About 3,000 homes and businesses in the area lost their dial tones Jan. 1 apparently because of water damage to four major telephone cables beneath M Street near the corner of 31st Street NW.
Miss Arnette said officials had hoped to have all of the service back by Sunday, but technicians had to clear dirt and debris out of some of the underground ducts where the damage occurred.
A host of problems with underground utility cables has been the bane of Georgetown's existence during the last year.
Thousands in the neighborhood lost power for a whole week after major manhole explosions last summer. In an effort known as the Georgetown Project, the District's main utility companies are still developing a plan for the massive rerouting and replacement of cables throughout the area.
Five Verizon vans were parked near the intersection of M and 31st streets yesterday, while technicians continued work inside a manhole there.
Verizon installed two phone banks at 37th Street and Tunlaw Road NW and in the 2300 block of Wisconsin Avenue NW, where residents can make free local calls.
David Schwartz, a retired photographer who lives on 40th Street in Glover Park, drove to the bank on Tunlaw Road yesterday to call Verizon and find out why his phone was still dead.
"My phone is still out," he said. "And I don't have a cell phone because I'm retired."
Mr. Schwartz said the situation was "inconvenient," adding that when his phone went out seven days ago, he thought it was a problem with his own house until he saw on the evening news that there had been an outage across the area.
"I understand that it probably was an act of nature that caused this, and I appreciate [free phones] being in my neighborhood," he said. "But I should have worn my gloves, because it's freezing out here. And this is a very busy intersection."
While Mr. Schwartz called Verizon, a delivery truck passing less than 10 feet from the makeshift phone booths overshot its turn, requiring the driver to back up for a second try.
"It's also very hard to hear out here," Mr. Schwartz said.

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