WANAKENA Hamlet residents assume when it starts to rain that their phone or that of their neighbor soon will go on the fritz.
Its almost comical, Ranger School Director Christopher L. Westbrook said. Its so bizarre because some phones will be working while others are not.
Verizon customers have suffered with the problem for years, routinely registering complaints with the state Public Service Commission, but have grown tired, especially since Wanakena is in a part of the Adirondacks that does not have cellphone coverage.
I want phone service. I need communication, said resident Sherman L. Craig, an Adirondack Park Agency commissioner. I have been without a phone 15 times in the last two months.
The outage is often spotty and intermittent. It might last 10 minutes or a day. One persons phone may be out while a neighbors is working. Reception is often crackly even when the phones are working.
It makes everything come to a screeching halt, said Angie K. Oliver, proprietor of the Wanakena General Store.
Ms. Oliver and her husband, Rick F. Kovacs, also run Packbasket Adventures, a lodge and tour guide service. On a recent day when the lodge phone was not working, Ms. Oliver could not run credit card charges, which inconvenienced her and her customers.
Verizon customers are not the only ones affected by the outages.
The General Store maintains a private pay telephone on its porch that is commonly used by campers and hikers. When the phone system sputters, the visitors are more out of luck than residents who can knock on a neighbors door, Ms. Oliver said.
The Ranger School also relies on two pay telephones in its building that are used mostly by students.
Aside from the usual iffy phone service, the pay phones which are supplied by a vendor other than Verizon stopped working altogether a few months ago, Mr. Westbrook said.
They went out on us and we have not been able to convince anyone to touch them, he said.
Verizon is aware of the communitys concerns, company spokesman John J. Bonomo said.
The root cause of the service interruptions is multiple lightning strikes along the cable route from Star Lake to Wanakena. The length of the route between the two communities increases the likelihood of lightning strikes, especially during the summer season, he said in an email. The cable that serves the community is intact, and there are no open splices that would cause water damage and result in service outages.
Residents have their own theories about what is wrong with the Verizon system, which include a reluctance on Verizons part to make repairs as Slic Network Solutions is ushering in a fiber-optic network, which will include broadband and phone.
By the time Verizon crews arrive for a service call, the problem has often corrected itself, Ms. Oliver said.
The permanent fix is not happening, she said.
Mr. Bonomo said the company is considering options for providing service.
Wanakena has about 70 full-time residents. Its population more than doubles in the summer.
Senior citizens particularly need their phones in case of an emergency and often have a difficult time going through procedures required by Verizon before it sends out a repair crew, Ms. Oliver said.
Residents talk among themselves about holding back a portion of their bills. Mr. Bonomo said customers should automatically see a credit if they go more than 24 hours without service and inform an operator.
We dont necessarily know if someone is out of service, he said.