Updated 10:00 p.m. Central Time
Law enforcement agencies around Nashville and as far away as Knox County and Kentucky, reported their 911 lines were down, though some are back up. Most flights out of Nashville International Airport are taking off again after departures were suspended. And hospitals report having difficulty making or receiving calls.
The explosion of a recreational vehicle in downtown Nashville this morning damaged an AT&T transmission facility on Second Avenue North. Customers around the region are still experiencing outages. AT&T tells WPLN News it’s still working to restore services and updating this page with any progress.
Roughly 24 counties and local municipalities in Middle Tennessee and some eastern parts of the state are having trouble with 911 operations, including Sumner, Putnam, Coffee and Franklin. Around 8 p.m., Murfreesboro Police reported communications had been re-established.
Maureen Culberson, executive director of the Tennessee Emergency Number Association, which supports emergency response teams throughout the state, says most places are using their contingency plans in hopes of preventing service delays.
“The 911 professionals on duty will have to ask additional questions so the callers’ location can be verified,” she tells WPLN News. “This is more time-consuming and callers get upset thinking that they aren’t getting the emergency service they need. In some agencies, the 911 phone will ring, but nobody is on the line.”
Culberson has worked in emergency response since 1988 and says she’s never seen an outage this widespread.
A list of alternative phone lines for residents appears at the bottom of this post.
A spokesperson for AT&T says the company is “in contact with law enforcement and working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service.”
Hospitals are also having trouble with communication, at a time when they’re taking care of more COVID-19 patients than ever.
“Many of our phone lines are not working right now due to the AT&T disruption from the explosion in downtown Nashville this morning We are working closely with AT&T to restore service as quickly as possible,” Vanderbilt University Medical Center said in a statement, encouraging anyone who considered calling to just go to the nearest emergency department.
At 2:22 p.m., Nashville’s airport said it expected about an hourlong flight suspension. This evening, most flights were taking off as scheduled.
UPDATE: Most flights are resuming, but there may be some delays. Be sure to check with your airline for flight updates or at https://t.co/ZyVvOExQq5.
— Fly Nashville (@Fly_Nashville) December 25, 2020
A tourist staying downtown, Weldon Miller, was startled by the blast early this morning.
“Thought it was a loud clap of thunder. Looked outside. It was nice and clear. Started hearing all the sirens,” he told WPLN News.
Now he’s considering cutting the trip short and driving back to Dallas. He’s not sure if he can easily find a place to eat — and his cell service was out.
“AT&T is completely out. We had it earlier and about two hours ago we lost it.”
Earlier, Nashville WeGo suspended all bus service as a precautionary measure to help law enforcement. The service said it would help downtown customers in other ways, with service expected to resume Saturday.
Law enforcement believe the blast this morning from an RV was intentional. A spokesperson from Nashville police says verbal warnings were issued from the vehicle before it detonated. The explosion sent three people to the hospital and charred several cars and damaged blocks of historic Second Avenue in downtown.
Alternative emergency lines
Authorities experiencing 911 outages are sharing alternative phone lines. They include:
Williamson County: 615-790-5550
La Vergne: 615-471-1103
Rutherford County Sheriff: 615-546-5793
Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services: 615-546-5801
Middle Tennessee State University: 615-898-2424
Middle Tennessee Electric: 615-571-0297
Overton County: 931-871-0292
Pickett County: 931-871-0292
Cannon County: 615-563-4322
Mt. Juliet: 615-406-5849
Sumner County: 615-712-4335
Putnam County: 931-261-6219
Springfield: 615-384-8422, ext 3
Clay County: 931-243-3266
Cumberland County: 931-484-2203
DeKalb County: 615-215-3000
Fentress County: 931-752-0911
Jackson County: 931-239-7524
Smith County: 615-735-2121
Trousdale County: 615-374-3994
White County: 931-738-7111
Trigg Co, Ky.: 270-522-4636
Christian Co, Ky.: 270-852-2731
Calloway Co, Ky.: 270-753-3151
This is a developing story that will be updated.