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Hurricane Beryl damages cause 911 outage in South Dakota


South Dakota experienced another 911 service outage this week. The cause – a hurricane 1,300 miles away.

For about six hours over two outages, 911 services were completely offline Tuesday night.

Mike Gramlick is the assistant fire chief in Sioux Falls. He said the community handled the situation well.

“An unplanned disruption in 911 services is never ideal," Gramlick said. "However, our preparations in advance and our ability to adapt quickly locally ensured essential public safety services continued throughout the entire outage. During that outage, we had approximately 522 calls for service, and to our knowledge throughout the outage we were able to identify each call and follow up with them as we would regularly.”

911-text services were still online through the event, but this is the second such outage in three months. Gramlick said there is only so much local agencies can do.

“It’s probably best to think of it as a larger infrastructure concern," Gramlick said. "Imagine if the power goes out in your home – you have very limited options. You could provide a backup generator, but that isn’t a thing we can do locally. This is an infrastructure, a network infrastructure system for communications.”

He says it’s a large network that takes issues directly to the 911 service provider – company called Lumen.

“It really does illustrate how difficult the troubleshooting is, not only at a singular piece-app, but at a state level," Gramlick said. Because of the complexity of how these networks interface, there’s just a ton of different options and that’s how you create your messaging to help the public get to the right place.”

Lumen, with infrastructure in Texas, reported damages as a result of Hurricane Beryl, and 911 outages were reported in multiple states as a result.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture