Two weeks after Isaias, Wilton neighborhood gets cable restored

Cablevision/Optimum facility in Shelton. Tom Shimko tried for two weeks to get a service truck to his Wilton home to restore cable and internet service after Tropical Storm Isaias.

Cablevision/Optimum facility in Shelton. Tom Shimko tried for two weeks to get a service truck to his Wilton home to restore cable and internet service after Tropical Storm Isaias.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — After 14 days without phone or internet service, Tom Shimko was reaching a breaking point with his unsuccessful attempts to get his service restored.

Shimko was concerned not only for himself but for his elderly neighbors who also were without a means of communication.

After Hearst Connecticut Media notified First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice of Shimko’s plight on Monday, she was able to contact an Optimum crew in town, and a few hours later, Shimko and his neighbors were back up and running.

“Trucks were here and everything is working! Thank you so much!!!!!” he emailed.

On Sunday, Shimko said Optimum was “torturing its customers that are trying to live and work at home during the pandemic.”

“If you call, they will hang up on you or put you on a 45-minute hold and never call you back,” he said, adding that when he finally got through to a person “they can’t tell you anything.”

His situation was further complicated by the fact his “cellphone service is out most of the time since the AT&T signal boost needed in Wilton requires internet service.” This made contacting emergency services, if needed, a potential problem.

The cause of the outage was a tree that came down and knocked out electric and cable wires. Electricity was restored after eight or nine days, Shimko said, but that left the cable still out.

At one point, he succeeded in getting a service person to come to his Pine Ridge Road home, but the worker who arrived was not equipped to resolve the problem, he said.

The worker said he would report the job as a priority and Optimum would send a ladder truck, but no one never showed up, he said.

Shimko finally talked to someone else Sunday morning, who said the earliest they could schedule an appointment would be Thursday — 16 days after the storm.

Eversource and other utilities have a priority list for senior citizens and other customers at high risk. Social Services Director Sarah Heath said she is unaware of any list of that sort among cable and internet providers.

Vanderslice has repeatedly expressed her frustration with the cable companies in her post-storm messages to the community.

She said police Chief John Lynch reported during Monday’s Emergency Operations Center meeting that Optimum was on Sturges Ridge Road, which is right around the corner from where Shimko lives.

She asked for Shimko’s address and contact information and said her office would reach out to see if Optimum had been there, and if not, executive assistant Jackie Rochester would call the company. Apparently, she was successful in getting Optimum to respond.

“We did have success in escalating Wilton Commons and families with school-aged children requiring remote learning,” Vanderslice said of the senior living facility.

She added that on Sunday morning, there were 32 Wilton customers without Optimum, although some had their service reconnected later in the day.

Also on Sunday, an Eversource fuse tripped across from 78 Spoonwood Road, resulting in “a large explosion and fire,” she said, that caused a power outage in South Wilton. Those residents had their power restored on Sunday afternoon.

“We think that outage caused additional Optimum outages because on Sunday evening 117 Optimum customers were without service,” she said. By Monday morning, 97 were still out.