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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Cell phone service was disrupted on the east coast today after an earthquake struck in central Virginia, but more than that could be impacted here if Hurricane Irene hits this weekend.

From apps on smart phones to digital cable to the expansion of the Internet, folks in the Cape Fear are more aware and therefore should be more prepared for a hurricane than they were for Fran in 1996 or Floyd in 1999.

“With the news channels and weather channels going over what to be prepared for, there’s lists, there are cell phone apps that tell you how to be prepared, things to get, they kind of have checklists, so most people are able to come into retailers like this and get most of those things they need to be prepared,” said Ashley Leagan, who works in the electronics department at Target in Wilmington.

With all the advances in technology in the past decade people are more aware of a looming threat like a hurricane. But what if that hurricane hits and power goes out?

“If there are several power outages we may not know the extent of our plant damage and neither will our customers until that power comes back on and they see if cable comes back on or not,” Andi Curtis with Time Warner Cable said.

For many people, when power goes out and they don’t have cable, they become fully reliant on their cell phones. If cell towers go out Verizon says it has a fleet of mobile equipment, including generators and mobile towers as backup. So if power goes, you still should be able to use your phone until the battery dies, so people are buying accordingly.

“If people get car chargers for their phones they could do something like that and just have that as a backup and just run their car if that’s a safe option for them,” Leagan said. “You can buy extra cell phone batteries and that sort of thing.”

If you are intent on keeping the power on, you can buy or rent a generator, but that can be expensive and supplies at local stores are limited.

Also, if you had an old battery-operated TV you used to use during storms, it will not work because of the switch to Digital TV in 2008. You can buy a battery-powered digital TV at many retailers..


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