180 homes could be without phone service for days

It could be another 10 days before Waipahu residents are able to use their home phones again. About 180 Hawaiian Telcom customers lost service.

Waipahu resident Ben Johnson says it started Wednesday morning. “I went into the kitchen and (my wife) has a caption phone… and we got an alert that the line went out,” he said.

Johnson’s landline did not work and a call to Hawaiian Telcom confirmed there was a problem — and not just in his household. His 93-year-old mother-in-law, who lives alone, also lost phone service. It’s her only line of communication.

“(My wife) and her two sisters were continuously going over to check up on her,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can do every few hours.”

Hawaiian Telcom says it could take 10 days to fix the problem.

Residents say a lot of people who live in the area are senior citizens who don’t have cell phones to turn to, and even if some do, there are other issues.

“My biggest concern is that I’m on a medical alert system and so I had no way of getting to anyone if it’s an emergency,” said resident Sharlene Shishido.

Shishido said her system is hooked up to her landline, so if she pushes the button for help, it won’t work. “I think it might be fixed by April 6 and I wanted to say my God, why that long?” she said.

Hawaiian Telcom didn’t want to do an interview, but spokesperson Ann Nishida Fry says the recent rains damaged underground cables. Crews still don’t know the extent of the problem.

When asked why it could take a long time to fix, Nishida Fry says they might need to replace an entire section of cables, which could take another week and a half.

“I’d hate to wait for April 6 to get here and somebody goes and checks up on somebody, and (thinks) ‘Whoa, what happened?'” Johnson said. “‘How come we didn’t get a phone call?’ And something’s happened to somebody.”

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