It has been three weeks since Post-Tropical Storm Fiona hit PEI, and while most of the island has power restored, many businesses and homes are still without phone or internet service.
Leon Zhang runs Mobile Ink PEI – a company that refills ink cartridges for printers.
He said Friday afternoon he still had no phone or internet service. He said going so long without going for so long has hurt his business, as he takes most orders over the phone and has to call for delivery.
In addition, Zhang said that he could only make cash transactions in the past three weeks.
“I have no idea when I’ll be back to normal,” Zhang said. “I hope I get a schedule [for] when I get it back…I know they’re working on it, we just have to be patient.”
Zhang is one of hundreds on PEI without internet or phone service.
Both Bell and Eastlink said they brought in extra crew to speed up repairs, but the damage is extensive.
Bell Aliant’s Geoff Moore told CBC News: “Recovery is our top priority,” saying the company has four times as many employees moving to restore service to customers. Moore said they can recover about 120 customers per day with the crews available.
“We are using whatever resources we can find to ensure we get our customers back up and running as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that the teams working on PEI are from across Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec originate.
“Our pace of recovery is accelerating, and it is accelerating every day.”
The company could not give a date when everyone could be back online. Moore said a “post-mortem” is underway at Bell Aliant to see how to better prepare for large storms.
“We felt we hadn’t created a response plan in terms of resources and what, based on what we thought was the worst cast, but the worst case was kinda worse than we thought,” he said.
“It definitely affected my anxiety”
Kelsey Handren lives in Charlottetown and had no internet for 15 days. She doesn’t have a landline and her cell phone was cut off, like most after the storm.
“It definitely affected my anxiety,” she said. “Not being able to contact or call anyone, especially on the day of the storm. You live alone, there is no one to talk to, you are afraid.”
Like Zhang, Handren is an Eastlink customer. She said people shouldn’t go weeks without a phone and internet.
In an emailed statement to CBC News, Eastlink said, “Our onsite crews and support teams continue to repair damage to downed fiber optic lines in areas where we were able to gain access after power was restored… we expect this work to continue.” a few days.
“Our latest update this morning shows that just over 100 customers remain impacted, most of which are in the more impacted Greater Charlottetown area, along with some smaller residual impacts in the eastern PEI. These numbers will continue to improve when power is restored and our repair work can fill in.”