Flooded data center takes down websites

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Car sits under trees downed by superstorm Sandy, Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York

Car sits under trees downed by superstorm Sandy, Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York (AP photo)

NEW YORK (AP) – Water welling into southern Manhattan drenched one of the world’s densest communications nodes, taking out popular websites and forcing carriers to reroute international traffic.

As commercial power was cut to the southern tip of Manhattan, data centers and phone-companies facilities in the Wall Street area were forced to switch to diesel generators. Data centers that failed to keep running on backup power brought down news and gossip sites Gawker, Huffington Post and many popular New York-based blogs.

Gawker was still down Tuesday afternoon, but Huffington Post was back online. Their webhost, Datagram Inc., said power was out and flooding in their basement was preventing their backup generators from pumping fuel. Internet connectivity from three providers was also down, Datagram said.

Verizon Communications Inc., the biggest phone company in the region, had some of its nodes in downtown Manhattan flooded, shutting down phone and Internet service.

Further uptown, data centers hosted in a “telecom hotel” that spans a whole block and houses Google’s New York headquarters were reporting outages as well, apparently because backup power failed when commercial power was cut Monday evening.

Renesys Corp., which monitors the pathways of the Internet, said the storm caused major outages in New Jersey and New York. The city is a major transit point for international telecommunications traffic, and the firm said carriers were scrambling to route traffic around it.

Cablevision Systems Corp., which serves parts of Long Island, New York City and New Jersey, said it’s experiencing widespread outages due to the loss of power. The company said it doesn’t yet know the extent of outages in New Jersey, which bore the brunt of the storm.

Time Warner Cable Inc., the other big New York-area cable company, said it had no reports of significant damage to its network, but customers without power had no cable service.

AT&T Inc. said there are “issues” in hard-hit areas, and it’s in the early stages of checking for damage and restoring service.

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