Overnight 911 call outage affected seven counties in Southeastern Minnesota

Winona, Wabasha, Freeborn, Dodge, Steele, Olmsted and Mower counties could not receive emergency calls

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) – At around 9:30 last night, Winona county’s 911 service temporarily stopped working.

It was caused by a technical issue with CenturyLink, which transfers calls to the dispatch center.

When 911 calls stop working, it causes the dispatch center to scramble.

“When that’s down, that’s very stressful and very worrisome for us,” emergency management coordinator Ben Klinger said. “So, that’s why we try to get the word out right away.”

For hours Sunday night into Monday morning, Winona County’s dispatch center could not take emergency calls.

“Winona County has about 60,000 people,” Klinger said.

And Winona wasn’t the only county affected.

“Wabasha, Olmsted, Mower, Freeborn, Dodge, Steele,” Klinger said. “So it was a big chunk of southeastern Minnesota that it affected.”

Winona County emergency management immediately sent out alerts through social media, cell phones and cable TV. Its Facebook post has been shared more than 450 times.

“We try to cover as much as we can,” Klinger said. “But, people also need to be proactive to make sure they’re able to get alerts.”

Klinger says to always have a backup plan.

“They should call a non-emergency number.”

The outage was resolved in about six hours, but not without some added stress.

“We’re gonna get to the bottom of what caused this, and figure it out, and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Klinger said.

CenturyLink says it is still investigating the cause of the technical issue.