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Houston County neighbors feeling disconnected from the outside world with poor service

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Posted at 9:08 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 23:25:51-04

HOUSTON COUNTY, Tenn (WTVF) — No home phone, no cell phone, no internet; this isn't the dark ages, but the reality many people are living in rural parts of the state because of poor connections.

The latest numbers from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development show more than 835,000 people in the state or 13% of the population don't have access to broadband.

It's an issue Houston County resident Monica DeRise-Lee has been facing for 10 years.

"I wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and how crowded it is and I moved out to rural America in Houston County. I wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and how crowded it is and I moved out to rural America in Houston County," said DeRise- Lee.

However, the peace and quiet is too quiet when she can't make a call.

"We have our phone service go out at least once a month and we’ve had technicians out here. They’ve explained that AT&T is not going to replace the phone lines, so they patch it," said DeRise- Lee.

The problem isn't just the landlines.

"We don't have cell service either," said DeRise- Lee.

Most of Houston County is also without internet and AT&T cell service. NewsChannel 5 reached out to AT&T and are waiting to hear back from the company. During our interview DeRise-Lee received a call from a technician about the landline. He told her crews would be out to fix the service.

"We have no communication with the outside world," said DeRise-Lee.

Which can make for some scary scenarios for her and others living off of highway 49 near Cumberland City.

"If something were to happen a fire, a heart attack, we will not be able to get in touch with anybody," said DeRise- Lee.

She says there are options but they would come at a high cost - one most people in the area can't afford.

"We're forgotten, nobody cares what happens to us, even our own county has even stated we didn't know there was an issue out there," said DeRise- Lee.

DeRise-Lee and her neighbors have reached out to Congressman Mark Green's office who offered to help and say this is their last resort.