"All circuits are busy now. Please try your call again later."
It's not what you want to hear when you call 911. But that is what happened Tuesday afternoon for many Hays County, Texas, residents.
A construction worker drilling holes near an H-E-B in Kyle was attacked and stung by bees at about 1 p.m. As he jumped off the tractor, he hit the hydraulic lever, lowering the auger. The auger continued drilling until it cut a fiber optic cable, halting phone service, including 911 connections, to a large part of Hays County.
Crews were working to fix the cable for much of the afternoon, and service was restored at about 8 p.m.
Officials are asking residents not to call 911 to test the line for fear too many calls will overload the system.
"It is affecting service in pockets, in Austin, even down to San Antonio, and pockets throughout the state for people trying to make long-distance calls to Austin," said Jodi Bart, a spokeswoman for AT&T
Bart had no estimate of the number of customers whose telephone service was out. The biggest problem was in Hays County, however, where 911 calls were not working.
County residents were advised to flag down a patrol officer or go to the nearest fire or EMS station. All emergency stations have radio contact with the Sheriff's Office. Other numbers were given out to contact emergency services, but some were working only sporadically.There were no reports of missed emergencies because of the outage, officials said.