Some Sonoma Coast residents are still without a landline and internet connection after the January storm
Strong winter storms this month left many North Coast residents without electricity, internet or phone service for days, but for some, those days have turned into weeks.
Long after the weather has passed, residents of Timber Cove, on the Sonoma Coast north of Jenner, are left without internet and any land connection, a particular burden in an area where cell service is spotty at best.
By Friday, it had been 24 days without service for Jay Kvapil, and getting any kind of response from Frontier Communications, the only provider option for most people in the area, was a challenge.
Since moving to Timber Cove five years ago, it’s been “hard with Frontier all the time,” Kvapil, who can get a dick or two on his cellphone outside his house, tells me. “They don’t respond as much when their streaks are down.”
After waiting for five days, he called the call center where he was informed that the problem in his area had been resolved. Kvapil, without service and able to see streaks falling off his property, had to insist before he was eventually taken to a supervisor who apologized and said he’d get it. But then he heard nothing.
“It’s really unknown,” he said. “It’s really frustrating.”
Frontier, a major US communications company, operates in 25 states. in 2016, Frontier has completed its acquisition From Verizon’s wired operations in California, Texas, and Florida. In 88% of its markets, the company has no competitor or only one competitor, According to the Investor Day 2021 presentation.
Frontier spokeswoman Hayley Hoover said most services had been restored to customers in the Timber Cove area by January 20. She confirmed that due to the safety protocol, the company cannot work on its lines until the power facilities have finished working.
“In this case, the electric company didn’t fully restore service until January 17th, and the next day, we were there to restore our service on the lines,” she said.
“It was a lot of work on our part given the rural terrain,” Hoover told me. “The wait time was impressive for the majority of customers.”
Kvapil and others applauded Pacific Gas & Electric’s response, which included consistent updates via email and text and multiple crews on the ground—a sharp contrast, they said, to Frontier’s.
Steve White’s strength returned within five days. With Frontier, he said he went through a cycle of logging into the website only to be told there was no outage in the area or receiving automated messages showing estimated repair times that never went through.
“There is a lot of isolation and a lot of old people here working with difficulties,” he said. “This is the primary concern.”
Residents I spoke to said few border workers or contractors work in the area.
“The local assumption is that we don’t have enough warm bodies to make it worth it,” White said. “My level of confidence in Frontier right now is an all-time low, and it’s never been so high.”
As a software engineer, Wight works online, and has resorted to setting up shop at a Timber Cove Inn or Timber Cove firehouse to use the internet. “I’m literally putting my job at risk at this point,” White told me when we first spoke on Jan. 18. “The people I work with who live in cities don’t understand.”
His wife, Jill, a university professor, is grateful for the sabbatical during this hiatus, but the situation has hampered the ability to work on her research.
“I have more flexibility, but this has become a crippling thing for me, and most importantly, I worry more every day about my husband losing his new job because of the timing and the sheer unbelievable nature of such a long break, with no contact,” she said on January 20. absolutely reasonable about the solution.”
Wights’ connection was finally restored on January 22. Almost three weeks after she went missing.
Even when the service is up and running, though, residents said the available DSL infrastructure is slow and outdated.
Gianna Suttor, who works remotely, said frequent problems with Frontier have lost many of her dollars, customers and jobs in the six years she’s lived in Timber Cove.
Satellite internet is not an option for her through the trees.
“I’m at a loss as to what to do. I don’t want to move away but I need internet to work and live. I’m at my wits end,” said Sator, who has yet to recover her service.
In more than three decades of living in Timber Cove, Michael Hallett has seen a series of telecom companies come across “the little pocket that nobody wants,” he told me on a Zoom call — his phone line still offline but he has internet access through a connection. The satellite.