When Hurricane Irene hit New York in August 2011, the Mohawk River overflowed its banks suddenly, flooding the town of Rotterdam Junction and Pattersonville, N.Y. to a depth of about 42 inches, completely flooding Pattersonville Telephone’s central office and business office, as well as submerging pedestals in the outside plant.

As a result of the 42 inches of standing water inside the central office,, the existing Siemens switch failed completely on Aug. 29, said Pattersonville Telephone Plant Manager Mike Lawler, leaving 900 subscribers completely out of service.

On Aug. 31, Pattersonville Telephone issued a purchase order to Metaswitch Networks for a new VP2510 switch, which was shipped the same day. The gear arrived on site on Sept. 1, and installation began that day, at an alternate location, on higher ground, in a 10′ by 20′ concrete building a couple of miles up the road from the central office, where there was rack space.

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Installation was complete and commissioning began on Sept. 3, restoring all A-links and trunks.

Configuration was complete on Sept. 4 and the first subscribers were returned to service. From Sept. 5th to Sept. 7th service gradually was restored to the rest of the area.
By typical provisioning standards, the emergency restoration was very quick. From order on Aug. 29 to to commissioning on Sept. 2, with first subscribers back in service on Sept. 4 took six days, where a normal new switch commissioning can take four to nine months, according to Andrew Ward,Director of Customer Support, Carrier Systems Division.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better, or anything more,” said Mike Lawler, Pattersonville Telephone plant manager. The first subscribers were back in service just four days after the purchase order was issued.

There were some unusual circumstances. The backup tapes couldn’t be read. The paper records had been located in the same building as the old switch, and were soaked. Despite all that, the paper records were used to reconstruct point codes, DS-1 and trunk circuit identification codes.

“Luckily they had a text dump of their subscriber configuration,” so the restoration team was able to put together a spreadsheet of the directory numbers and carrier codes to do a bulk import of the subscribers, says Ward.

Access to the record location also had to wait until the flood water receded. Outside plant electronics also had to be repaired or replaced. And from the time of the outage it was four days until the old CO could be reached.

Also, says Ward, Pattersonville Telephone had been using TR-08 for their access equipment, which Metaswitch Networks does not support, so all subscriber lines had to be converted to GR-303, which in some cases required extensive re-wiring, which became the major gating factor to restore service.

“The customer had tape backups of their DCO, but we can’t read them, so instead we ended up sorting through filing cabinets of wet paper trying to find out what point-codes, DS1s and TCICs to use in configuring the new switch,” said Ward.

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