Severed cable leaves San Juan islands cut off from communication

LOPEZ ISLAND, Wash. -- The remote San Juan islands are feeling a little farther away this week after a critical underwater communication cable was cut.

The county has now declared a state of emergency because 911 lines have been tough to get.

The critical underwater fiber line was mysteriously severed on Tuesday, leaving residents on Lopez Island and the rest of the county isolated like never before.

There are no landlines -- including 911 -- and Fire Chief Jim Ghigelione had to improvise to keep the island safe.

"We actually had some people drive to the station looking for help, and we were able to use our radio communications in all of our vehicles," he said.

Pharmacies can't call in orders, and cell phone coverage is spotty. Gas station debit and credit card machines don't work, which means residents can only use cash.

Many locals have headed to the Islander resort to wait out the nights, even if they can't pay their tab with a card.

Manger Lisa Steinbrueck said people can have IOUs if they don't have cash. She knows they're good for it.

"So we just do what we can do. Make do with that," she said.

Officials from Centurylink said 911 service was partially restored Friday afternoon, but dive teams will have to find out where the line was cut. There's no timeline for a full fix.