On Friday, Jan. 26, callers were dismayed to realize that many, many calls to numbers in Guilford County government weren’t working and residents who needed help from places like social services or the Guilford County Tax Department couldn’t get through.

The phone outage also meant that many workers in Guilford County government couldn’t reach one another to discuss county business.

This week, the problem has finally been resolved – but the outage has a lot of people asking how a critical local government phone system could be on the blink for about a week.

Guilford County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright said that, fortunately, emergency calls to the county weren’t affected.

However, many county residents who rely on key county services were unable to access the services they need.

On Thursday, Feb. 1 –  about a week after the problem first surfaced – Guilford County Manager Mike Halford told the Rhino Times that it was his understanding the phone system issues would be solved by the following day.

During the outage, Guilford County officials encouraged – via the county’s webpage and through email – that  clients of county services use email to communicate, and county officials also posted on the county’s website the limited number of direct phone lines to various department for which the direct numbers were working.

Some departments tried to handle the situation the best they could.  For instance, the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services realized that many unanswered calls were rolling over into voice mail, so county workers checked that voice mail frequently and contacted those clients.

Early this week, a message posted across the top of the county’s website stated that Guilford County’s telephone service had been restored.

However, the news wasn’t all great. The message added, “As phone lines resume normal operations, call volume may be higher than usual due to the disruption in service. We appreciate your patience as our call center agents work diligently to address customer requests.”

According to a vague statement put out  by county officials when the problems began, the outage was due to “a vendor system shutdown which resulted in an interruption to the County’s phone service.”