Gov. Rick Scott points out some damage caused by Hurricane Michael while flying somewhere over the panhandle of Florida Thursday. The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael the day before came into focus Thursday as rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews began making their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and CFO Jimmy Patronis have been taking aim at Verizon over the last 24 hours, apparently frustrated by how slow the cell carrier has been to restore service to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael.
During a Sunday press briefing, Scott mentioned Verizon's problems twice, while touting the company's chief competitor.
"There in Bay County, we’re still waiting on Verizon," Scott said, adding why it was important for cell service to be restored.
"We’ve put a lot of food and water out all across the state," Scott said. "Well, if you have no internet and you have no cellphone, it’s hard to get the information out. AT&T is working there, but Verizon is not."
Scott, continuing to dig at Verizon, has also been retweeting AT&T and praising the company on Twitter.
Thanks, @ATT, for working to get communications back online quickly & helping Florida communities following Michael," Scott tweeted.
Patronis, whose hometown is Bay County's Panama City, also took aim at Verizon on Twitter, complete with the hashtag #fixitnow.
"We are on Day 6 with no @verizon service in Bay County," Patronis tweeted. "Phones are critical infrastructure for Search and Rescue and First Responder communications. We need the same response from @verizon as we have seen from our electric companies."
Verizon in a statement said it's suffered "unprecedented damage to our fiber, which is essential for our network."
"Our fiber crews are working around the clock to make repairs, and while they are making good progress, we still have work to do to get the fiber completely repaired," the company said.
But the other three carriers are apparently not having the same problem. The Wall Street Journal quoted customers and company officials with AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint saying that all three carriers were up and running in the area.
The Panhandle suffered widespread cell service outages in the wake of Hurricane Michael, with more than 70 percent of towers down in the hardest-hit areas the day after the storm came through.
And the carriers have made little progress in Bay County since the storm made landfall.
All other counties hit by the storm have at least half of their cell towers back in use, but in Bay County, more than 65 percent of cell towers were still out Monday morning — down from 78 percent the morning after the storm, according to the FCC.
Both Verizon and AT&T have been big donors to the Republican Party of Florida for years, and Verizon has given more than $50,000 to Scott's campaigns since 2013, records show.
On Monday afternoon, Scott issued a press release noting that Verizon has opened an emergency communications center at their Panama City store and was also supporting the Bay County Emergency Operations Center.
Herald/Times staff writer Emily L. Mahoney contributed to this report.