Sandy-Damaged High School Still Without Phone Service 3 Months After Storm

By Lori Bordonaro
|  Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013  |  Updated 8:43 PM EDT
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Murry Bergtraum High School is still waiting for its phone service to be restored, more than three months after Sandy knocked it out.  Lori Bordonaro reports.

NBC 4 New York

Murry Bergtraum High School is still waiting for its phone service to be restored, more than three months after Sandy knocked it out. Lori Bordonaro reports.

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A lower Manhattan high school that the Department of Education said had its communication lines "severely damaged" by Sandy is still without phone service more than three months after the storm socked the region.  

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The 1,800-student Murry Bergtraum High School reopened just a few days after the storm devastated much of lower Manhattan, but in the absence of working landlines, the school has had to rely on cell phones -- and both parents and teachers are concerned about how that may affect responses to potential emergencies, reports DNAInfo.com.
 
The DOE said Sandy destroyed the copper cable servicing the high school as well as the Verizon wire center associated with it. In the meantime, spokeswoman Marge Feinburg said the department provided Murry Bergtraum principals with cell phones. 

Feinburg pointed out that the computer system continues to work, but that provides little solace to some teachers who fear e-mail may be insufficient in the event of a crisis. And cell phone service can be spotty at times.

Social Studies teacher John Elfrank-Dana told DNAInfo.com there have been a series of violent incidents at the school over the years, including an arson attempt in October and an assault on school safety officers in November. Last March, dozens of students became involved in a brawl. 

Elfrank-Dana also told DNAInfo.com he wasn't aware of any number parents were told they could use to reach the school until the landline service started working again. One frustrated parent told the website he would call repeatedly and get no answer.

"They say it's Sandy, it's Sandy, but this isn't a third world country," the parent told DNAInfo.com. "This is crazy, no one can fix this?"

The DOE said Verizon is working in the streets to bring a new fiber feed to the school building. 

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In a statement to NBC 4 New York, the telecommunications company said it provided the fiber lines to handle the school's voice telephone service at the end of January, and has since been working with school staff and vendors to create a means to bring the live service into school rooms.

The company said it identified those conduits "just today," and "technicians are working on the job now."

Murry Bergtraum's principal did not immediately respond to DNAInfo's requests for comment.

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