cash and landlines in disasters

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mouses
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cash and landlines in disasters

Post by mouses » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:37 pm

These topics have come up before, but just to emphasize:

I've been following the California fire situation and one town I have friends in has no power and the local newspaper said as a result things can only be bought with cash - no credit cards, no debit cards.

Also in the area one friend is in, only landlines are working. I rant again about why phone companies should not be allowed to do away with landline service.

ji.isaacs
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by ji.isaacs » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:25 am

There are limited true landline providers nowadays and the cost is most likely a factor in their discontinuance.

Where I live, there is a single provider and the monthly cost was close to $35. I hung on for several years but finally cut the cord this year.

livesoft
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by livesoft » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:35 am

With no power and fires in the area, why haven't folks evacuated to a place with power and no fires?

In a place with power, how long can you go without needing to buy anything --- whether with cash, debit, or credit?
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DaftInvestor
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by DaftInvestor » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:56 am

It seems to me that if you live in a disaster-prone area (Hurricane coast-lines or California wild-fire or earthquake country) you are better off having two plans:
1) For Shelter In-Place - assure you have enough food/water and medical supplies to get you through. If you REALLY need communication continuity get a satellite phone.
2) Have an evacuation plan. Get out before disaster hits your area (works for hurricanes and certain wildfire scenarios - might not always be warned for earthquake scenario).

Personally - I see limited use for cash or a landline in both cases. I guess you are saying there are some "in-between" disasters whereby stores might be open (even without power/comm) and willing to take sales for cash and/or a landline might be useful (to call medical for an emergency maybe?). It seems the two above plans would provide much better coverage. Luckily I don't personally live in a disaster-prone area - if there is a 500-year event I will make due like everyone else - for other types of emergencies modern weather-forecasting provides a good heads-up for me.

bluebolt
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by bluebolt » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:44 am

Seems something like this might be an option. Allows you to send text messages via satellite and is a GPS. There is a monthly fee, but looks like you can suspend/resume. Not sure if you can do that from the device, which would make it hard to use without an ongoing subscription if a sudden disaster hit.

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/561286

smitcat
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:22 am

livesoft wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:35 am
With no power and fires in the area, why haven't folks evacuated to a place with power and no fires?

In a place with power, how long can you go without needing to buy anything --- whether with cash, debit, or credit?
During Hurricane Sandy we did not leave long Island for a place with power and no storms since we have our home and business's here.
It was not so bad with a small genset for heat/hot water and other uses.
We had cash which became valuable for many items where the credit card machines were down for many days.
We traveled about 8 miles to access data and phone lines to update our business needs.
PR is still a cash only situation even this many days after the storm.

N1CKV
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by N1CKV » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:33 am

I live in a hurricane prone area.
Communication:
Telephone lines are just as reliable as power, a tree can easily take both out at the same time.
Mobile phones have limited reliability and are routinely overwhelmed during large events, however in recent years those systems have been fortified to better handle it. My main communication is through my mobile phone, however I am also an Amateur Radio operator which gives me access to others without dependency on any utility.
Cash:
Keeping cash on hand is considered common sense. I do not keep any extreme amount, but a couple hundred dollars can get me a long way. I also have plenty of food/ water/ supplies in my home to last me through just about any disaster that can strike.
I have met a lot of people that claim to love money, but they also seem to be the same people that are in the biggest hurry to get rid of it.

soupcxan
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by soupcxan » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:43 am

If there is a wildfire, why do I need a landline? Am I going to call the fire department? I'm sure they already know.

I have not had a landline for over a decade. Don't need it. Don't want it.

mmarreco
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by mmarreco » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:26 am

I live in a hurricane area. Haven't had a landline in over 20 years and never needed it.
Cash at hand is important however. Immediately after a hurricane it is often necessary to hire workers to cleanup debris or to do emergency repairs to the house (such as roof) and they want to be paid in cash. Those can be easily cost a few thousand. Also as mentioned even if there is electricity, credit card machines can be inoperable and business will be only taking cash. This just happened now after Hurricane Irma.

ETA: A lot of people also need to pay to have shutters installed right before a storm and removed afterwards. That's also typically paid in cash, some of my neighbors pay $500 for each instance, so that's another $1K.
Last edited by mmarreco on Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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BogleFanGal
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by BogleFanGal » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:45 pm

I always believed a landline was critical during disasters - when everyone else I knew cut the cord a long time ago. And it used to be true - you could always depend on the landline no matter what - it stayed on thru hurricanes, tornados, you name it. It was the Ever-ready Bunny of disaster recovery.

But from what I understand, phone companies no longer maintain or prioritize copper lines these days - so many are in very poor condition. Our landline went out on us during the 1st hour of a 4 hour tropical storm last year (nowhere near even cat 1 hurricane winds) and 5 weeks later, still was an open trouble ticket with "unknown" as the resolution date, despite repeated calls, emails and chat to the company. I disconnected right then and there and never regretted it since. (Most of the calls I was getting on it towards the end were almost all scam companies, telemarketers, and charities - like 8-10+ day. Everyone else just called my cell.)

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CaliJim
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by CaliJim » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:51 pm

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celia
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by celia » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:17 pm

soupcxan wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:43 am
If there is a wildfire, why do I need a landline? Am I going to call the fire department? I'm sure they already know.
If you were sick or fell and broke your leg and needed help evacuating, would you want someone to come help you? Even if you couldn't speak, the emergency center knows exactly where your landline phone number is located, at least in my area. I've heard that the very old phones used as landlines still work even when the electricity is out so that might be useful for seniors who live alone. (That might not be true if your neighborhood has been converted to FIOS only.) And if you are sleeping or somehow unaware of what is happening in your area, they can reverse call you to notify you to get out. I have a relative who was reverse called recently where they were looking for a suspect in their neighborhood and they told everyone to stay inside with the doors locked. Wouldn't you want to be alerted to a situation like that?

Mobile phones do not have those advantages unless your area has a system where you can register your phone number so you can be reached in a local emergency.

ztn
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by ztn » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:20 pm

mouses wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:37 pm
These topics have come up before, but just to emphasize:

I've been following the California fire situation and one town I have friends in has no power and the local newspaper said as a result things can only be bought with cash - no credit cards, no debit cards.

Also in the area one friend is in, only landlines are working. I rant again about why phone companies should not be allowed to do away with landline service.
I live in the NYC area and I learned lessons from both the 2003 blackout and 2012 Hurricane Sandy. In the blackout, ATM's didn't work and credit cards were useless. I was able to buy food/groceries with the cash I had at the time. Cash was extremely valuable! The power was out even longer after Hurricane Sandy and by that time I had been keeping several thousand dollars in 20's at home. The cash again allowed me to purchase all that I needed. I knew others who were stuck with no access to cash and had to 'borrow' provisions from others.
As to landlines, I had one for the blackout and it was very helpful as I was able to conduct work from home. By 2012's hurricane power outage I had ditched the landline and learned that my cell phone wasn't going to work if the cell towers were out of power! My hand cranked power source was nice but nobody was hand cranking the cell towers! Not sure I have a good solution to that since I'm not going back to the landline.

jebmke
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by jebmke » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:26 pm

A POTS landline in my area is as vulnerable as power. If a hurricane or ice storm take down a section of above ground lines, it takes everything.

Our IP phone service stays up pretty long. I think the provider has battery backup and solar to keep its grid up as long as the lines aren't down. My UPS can keep the cable modem and router going for about 700 minutes.
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likegarden
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by likegarden » Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:19 pm

In our development all cable, electricity is under ground. Our 'land-line' phone is via cable. We lose cable usually via a tree falling on above ground wires,

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just frank
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by just frank » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:45 pm

Landlines **used** to be reliable because the Feds required the telcos to have large battery backups to run the network if the power grid went down. Now half of houses don't have a landline, and most that do it is not really a POTS line, it comes off a cable modem, with limited backup battery life in case of a power outage.

As mentioned upthread, the Feds now require hardening of the cell network for emergency use. Compliance varies.

My parents were under Irma. Their landline (cable) went down before the power....but their iPhones never lost connectivity, and could be charged off the cars in the garage as needed. They could monitor storm progress, check in with family and call 911 if they needed help.

ncbill
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by ncbill » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:14 pm

copper line (from the CO to your home) is no longer guaranteed.

any problems and your local telco replaces the above with an unpowered fiber line to a box near your home from where the copper line now runs to your home (and your neighbors)

my neighborhood has had the above for the last 20+ years.

however AT&T finally ran fiber on the main road a few months ago.

hopefully they'll decide it's profitable to run it down the right-of-way into our neighborhood.

123
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by 123 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:59 pm

I've had doubts about the resilience of landline communications for awhile. POTS is only POTS as far as POTS goes. When my POTS gets connected in a switching center to "modern" equipment I likely lose the reliability I have know to rely upon from POTS.
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bligh
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by bligh » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:06 pm

A good handheld VHF radio + batteries. is a good option too.

Less expensive than a Sat phone, though also less capable.

btenny
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by btenny » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:59 pm

I am sorry but a pots phone or stashed cash in a drawer does not work in a burned up home. Same for tornadoes and earthquakes. These disasters happen in minutes and destroy your home and the phone and your cash. Your only safety net is something you can carry in your wallet like a few hundred dollars bills and a cell phone in your pocket.

Then you can have some chance of survival. And for an example my wife's cousin was evacuated Monday evening from the fire area. She has cash to buy stuff and is staying at a friends home. She texted us this am that she was ok. So the above worked for her.

Good luck.

gretah
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by gretah » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:25 pm

What is needed depends on your area's resources.

I used to live on an island. Phone / DSL lines are below ground. Electricity is via wires on poles in the air. Stupid, because we frequently had strong winds.

In strong winds, land line phones are terrific for emergencies. Over half the population is over 65 yo so medical emergencies is a big issue.

No electricity means no ATM/credit cards. You need cash to buy groceries, batteries, food, candles, etc.

Most people have electric and propane or wood stoves at home so warmth is covered.

Now I live in an all-electric home with no way to burn propane, gas, or wood. So I have cash and lots of candles. Plus I have some ceramics for making a candle-in-a-can-a-ceramic-baking-dish way to create warmth in a small room. The amount of heat generated is surprising. I just have to remember to crack a window. If the candle gets snuffed out due to lack of oxygen, I'm next to be snuffed out.

GAAP
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Re: cash and landlines in disasters

Post by GAAP » Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:53 am

In the case of a lot of the fire area in Northern California, landlines weren't working either. The city of Eureka lost it's internal phone system due to destroyed connectivity elsewhere.

Wireless systems depend on the same connectivity that landlines depend on -- unless you want to pop for a satellite phone. Sat phones have their own limitations also -- they don't work as well in a steep canyon as on a mountain peak, for example.

Nothing is perfect -- even the heroes of Star Trek have comm problems at times...

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