Phone Lines Crossed But Bridge Built

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For the last three weeks, BellSouth has been working to restore phone service to its customers. The process is painstaking, and at times, due to the level of difficulty, it can seem rather slow.

"The difficulties associated with telephone restoration is the fact that the cables that are used to transmit voice communications have many, many wires. We have cables as large as a 1200 pair of cable with twice that many wires inside the cable," said C.D. Smith, regional manager of BellSouth.

With crews working practically around the clock, the majority of phone lines in our area have been repaired.

"As it stands right now, of the nearly 40,000 customers in the Meridian area, Lauderdale County, we've restored all but about a thousand," Smith said. "And of that, 1,000 we're continuing to work to get that restored."

But that's small consolation when your home number is also your business number and you stand the risk of losing business with every missed phone call.

This is the case for Keith Ballard, who has a home office as district manager for an insurance and investment company.

"What's ironic, throughout the whole hurricane we had phone service. But when the power came back on, the phone went haywire and I started getting phone calls from out-of-state, people looking for a Ms. Hayes," Ballard said.

Somehow the phone lines for Ballard and Hayes had gotten crossed. Ballard's number rings at Hayes' apartment and her calls ring at his house.

What's so amazing is that Hayes turned around and started taking messages from Ballard's customers.

"When you have someone calling you, you need for them to be able to get you, especially when you're in the insurance business," said Jessie Lee Hayes.

Ballard estimates that Ms. Hayes has saved his company literally thousands of dollars by relaying messages.

"It has been frustrating dealing with BellSouth, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever, I think I've picked up a friend for the rest of my life," Ballard said.

Ms. Hayes said the same thing. A situation that could have been disastrous had a nice turn of events.

BellSouth anticipates restoring service to all of its customers within the next two weeks. However some services, such as Ballard's could take longer to correct.