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The Aegis
Harford County

Harford County government loses Internet service after Sunday's storm

The Harford County government lost the Internet connection to some of its facilities, including the main office building at 220 S. Main St. in Bel Air, following Sunday night's thunderstorms. The service, which affected the county website and internal and external emails, had not been restore as of 2 p.m.

Harford County government's Internet service was restored late Monday afternoon after not having web access or email for about 16 hours, an apparent casualty of the thunderstorms that swept through the area around midnight Sunday.

The county website went down around midnight, and no external emails could be sent or received, Information Technology Director Ted Pibil said.

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The website was back online shortly before 4 p.m., just before the business day ended, he confirmed.

The county uses a circuit through Verizon, Pibil said.

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The situation left local fire company members unable to get text messages, Harford County Department of Emergency Services spokesman Bob Thomas said.

The outage did not affect the 911 dispatch system or response to calls by firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, Thomas said, noting a number of personnel from five fire companies responded to fire inside a Belcamp building around 9 a.m. Monday.

Shortly after the fire call was dispatched, the county's emergency radio network also made an announcement regarding the Internet outage.

"The companies are still getting alerts in a timely manner without interruptions," Thomas said, explaining that other types of messages to the fire companies were not affected.

"It has not affected the operation of the fire departments getting notification of the calls and responding to calls," he said of his department.

Once the service was restored Monday afternoon, Fire and EMS personnel were notified via the emergency radio system and given a phone number to call if they were still encountering difficulties.

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The Harford County Sheriff's Office, which like the county government is headquartered in downtown Bel Air, had Internet and email service, spokesperson Cristie Kahler said. The Harford County Public Library's website was also working.

Pibil said he received a call from his monitoring service at 6 a.m. Monday about the Internet problem.

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He said the circuit has been affected by storms once or twice before, "but it has never lasted that long, as far as getting it back up."

In previous incidents, "it was an hour or two," he said.

According to Pibil, the county does have a limited redundant connection as part of its disaster recovery plan that it could switch to, but that is only likely to be used if the outage would have dragged on longer.

County officials have plans for a fully redundant connection through the new HMAN network but that is not running yet, he said.

"Verizon is not experiencing any service issues in Harford County as a result of the recent storm," Verizon spokeswoman Sandy Arnette wrote in an email early Monday afternoon, about two hours before the county said its Internet access was restored.


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