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BELLSOUTH MARSHALS TELEPHONE TROOPS TO FIGHT HURRICANE ON TWO FRONTS

BELLSOUTH MARSHALS TELEPHONE TROOPS TO FIGHT HURRICANE ON TWO FRONTS
 ATLANTA, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- BellSouth is marshaling an army of more than 700 telephone technicians to fight a war against Hurricane Andrew on two fronts: Florida on the east and Louisiana on the west.
 To fight the battle in its Southern Bell state of Florida, more than 350 telephone workers from three states are descending on the devastated counties of Dade and Broward where more than 35,000 trouble reports have been recorded from among the area's 2.5 million telephone customers. More service trouble reports are expected as residents return to their shattered homes.
 By Wednesday morning Southern Bell had reduced the number of Florida central switching offices on emergency power from 42 to 16. Forty-two central offices in southern Louisiana were on emergency power supplied by diesel-powered generators located within each central office.
 The only two switching offices which were isolated in Florida -- Key West and Key Biscayne -- were reconnected to the overall switching network Tuesday.
 Southern Bell and South Central Bell are beginning installation of a 230-line ESSX Centrex switching system in Miami and a 100-line system in Baton Rouge for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in both South Florida and Louisiana.
 The Miami installation was designed and created from scratch in less than 48 hours so as to speed federal disaster relief efforts for Dade and Broward residents and businesses.
 The Louisiana system will be in service by mid-day today (Wednesday), 24 hours in advance of FEMA's deadline.
 Aiming at the company's western flank in Louisiana, South Central Bell is dispatching about 350 technical experts to begin service restoration in the most heavily affected areas around Lake Charles and Lafayette.
 More telephone troops will be added to these first waves if local managers in the two states determine that additional forces could speed repairs.
 According to company spokesmen, telephone repair work is sometimes slowed because of the inability of workmen to get their vehicles to areas that have been heavily damaged and are blocked by fallen trees and rubble. Additionally, when telephone cables are strung between utility poles which also support electricity lines, company safety requirements prevent Southern and South Central Bell workers from repairing those cables until after the local power companies complete their work.
 An advance contingent of telephone troops moved out of South Carolina and into Florida Monday, the same day the historic storm hit. They were followed Tuesday by two dozen more, with an additional 25 Wednesday morning. Overall South Carolina is expected to have at least 80 emergency workers assigned to the Florida disaster.
 North Carolina's five operating districts ranging from the coastal plain to the Piedmont are committing 115 technicians. The five groups left their home locations this morning and will link up in Jacksonville, Fla., tonight. From Jacksonville, they will form a 114-vehicle strong armada heading south into Miami, expected to arrive in Miami Wednesday night.
 Georgia is sending 180 technicians, 137 of whom left in three waves Wednesday morning. This group will assemble into one large task force in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday night, moving on into South Florida on Thursday.
 The repair crews generally consist of Installation and Maintenance technicians, copper and fiber optic cable repair experts, and construction crews.
 In the South Central Bell territory, about 350 technicians will come from Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee who are designated to restore service in the South Louisiana area.
 Alabama is sending 96; Kentucky, 70; Mississippi, 66; and Tennessee, 115. These telecommunications experts began leaving their normal work locations today, and will continue streaming into Louisiana through the weekend.
 Southern Bell operates in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. South Central Bell provides service in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Both companies are part of BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta.
 -0- 8/26/92
 /CONTACT: Richard Miles, 404-529-8003, or David Rogers, 404-529-8053, both of BellSouth Telecommunications/
 (BLS) CO: BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc. ST: Florida, Louisiana IN: TLS SU:


EA-BN -- AT012 -- 3484 08/26/92 12:51 EDT
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Date:Aug 26, 1992
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