Residents along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard are struggling with voice and data services in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which has killed dozens and ravaged communication, transportation and utility infrastructure in the Northeast. Damages from the storm are estimated in the tens of billions. Millions on the Eastern Seaboard were left without power, cable or landline service in their homes, as well as spotty or non-existent mobile reception.

How could this happen when telecommunications companies had prepared for Sandy's fury ahead of the storm's landfall? Verizon and AT&T told the Associated Press earlier this week that preparations for the superstorm included "topping up fuel for backup generators and lining up disaster recovery trailers to move into flooded areas after the storm passes," in addition to readying backup generators for cell towers. Despite precautions, strong winds knocked over power lines and took out cell towers in the hardest-hit regions, while tidal surges seeped into underground facilities where sensitive and critical networking equipment was installed.

Verizon, which provides Internet and telephone services and is the largest wireless carrier in the United States, was hit extremely hard in New York and New Jersey. According to Reuters, flooding from the storm damaged telecom equipment in three of Verizon's major switching offices, located in lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island. The failure of these centers completely wiped out non-emergency service in those areas. Network issues persist in the Northeast.

Wind and flooding disrupted or knocked out service for AT&T Inc, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, and weather-related issues plagued the networks after the storm passed.

Power outages also knocked out Internet services for many customers of Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. In the New York City boroughs, power from major utility supplier ConEd was down for more than 600,000 customers, per the company's website on Wednesday evening. Con Ed estimates that users should have power back by the end of the week.

The very worst of the outages are centralized in lower Manhattan, where our own Jason Gilbert reports that residents without electricity in their homes or voice and data service on their mobile devices can be seen queuing up to use public pay phones.

The Federal Communications Commission reported on Tuesday that the superstorm had downed one out of every four cell towers in 10 states. On Wednesday the FCC issued a statement that affected communication infrastructure was recovering gradually, but that the biggest problems remained in states like New York and New Jersey. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Comcast have not yet reported on how many customers lost service or have had service troubles as a result of the storm.

Without stating how widespread network troubles were, AT&T and T-Mobile announced a temporary deal on Wednesday allowing customers in New York and New Jersey to seamlessly switch between both networks without incurring extra charges on their normal mobile bills.

Verizon representative Alberto Canal told The Huffington Post on Wednesday that damage has not been assessed in some areas because the storm had displaced customers to other areas. Though a release on Tuesday stated that service would begin returning to normal in a week or more, the company's website on Wednesday cited a "service emergency" for New York, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

According to a statement from Sprint given to Bloomberg BNA, the carrier is aware of network problems in Connecticut, New England, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Reps from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable told Reuters that service would return alongside electricity service that was knocked out by the storm.

Fierce storms in the future could cause even more damage, similar to or worse than that from Sandy.

"This will happen again," disaster management consultant Philip Jan Rothstein told The Huffington Post. "When you walk around NYC and you see all the gratings in the sidewalk, that’s where the transformers are, the fiber, the systems, there’s a lot of connectivity and it’s all underground. That stuff has to sit somewhere, some of it sits in buildings, some of it sits in basements, some of it sits underground. Basements flood."

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The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

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  • A casket floated out of the grave in a cemetery in Crisfield, Md. after the effects of superstorm Sandy Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Hundreds of people were displaced by floodwaters in Ocean City and in Crisfield. At the same time, 2 feet of snow fell in westernmost Garrett County, were nearly three-quarters of residents lost power. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • An ambulance is submerged in floodwaters in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Hoboken, N.J. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • A vehicle drives on a flooded street in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Hoboken, N.J. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • A firehouse is surrounded by floodwaters in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Hoboken, N.J. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • A vehicle drives on a flooded street in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Little Ferry, N.J. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • An emergency vehicle drives on a flooded street in Little Ferry, N.J. in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • An emergency vehicle drives on a flooded street in Little Ferry, N.J. in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • Rescue workers help stranded people out of their flooded homes in Seaside Heights, N.J., following the arrival of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • Rescue workers help stranded people out of their flooded homes in Seaside Heights, N.J., following the arrival of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • A runway at the Teterboro Airport is flooded in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

  • Homes in Bethany Beach, Del. are surrounded by floodwaters from superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Officials said Bethany and nearby Fenwick Island appeared to be among the hardest-hit parts of the state. (AP Photo/Randall Chase)

  • Floodwaters from superstorm Sandy surround homes in South Bethany, Del. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig) NO SALES

  • Floodwaters from superstorm Sandy surround homes in South Bethany, Del. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig) NO SALES

  • Downed power lines and a battered road is what superstorm Sandy left behind as people walk off the flooded Seaside Heights island, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • This photo provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows the South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/ Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

  • Debris litters the beach north of Indian River Inlet in southern Delaware after waves churned up by superstorm Sandy demolished hundreds of yards of beach dunes and left state Route 1, the major north-south coastal highway, covered in sand. (AP Photo/Randall Chase)

  • This photo provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows the South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/ Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

  • This photo provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows the South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/ Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

  • Streets around a Con Edison substation are flooded as the East River overflows into the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., as Sandy moves through the area on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and swamped underground electrical equipment at a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers were left without power. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, file photo, Consolidated Edision trucks are submerged on 14th Street near the ConEd power plant in New York. After a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and swamped underground electrical equipment at a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers were left without power. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Downed power lines and a battered road is what superstorm Sandy left behind as people walk off the flooded Seaside Heights island, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

  • This photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, shows what appear to be transformers exploding after much of lower Manhattan lost power during hurricane Sandy in New York. After a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and swamped underground electrical equipment at a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers were left without power. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof)

  • Peter Andrews removes belongings from his father's beachfront home, destroyed in the aftermath of a storm surge from the superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. Andrews, 40, who was born in the house, said "we had a lot of storms and the only damage in the past was when a national guardsman threw a sandbag through the window." He added, the house was in the process of being sold. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • A small shop that rents personal water craft rests in a huge sinkhole on the bayside in Ocean City, N.J. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 after a storm surge from superstorm Sandy Monday night. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

  • A beachfront house is completely destroyed in the aftermath of a superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • The entrance to a beachfront house is destroyed in the aftermath of a storm surge from superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • A second floor closet is exposed in a beachfront house in the aftermath of a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • People stop along the Brooklyn waterfront to photograph the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 in New York. Much of lower Manhattan is without electric power following the impact of superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Marcus Konner, 22, boards his home in the aftermath of a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • People walk through the houses destroyed in the aftermath of yesterday's storm surge from superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • Carlo Popolano stands outside his beachfront home, damaged in superstorm Sandy, on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. Popolano said he was watching the storm with his son and "everything was okay until about 7:30 and then one big wave came and washed away our whole backyard." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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  • A backyard is inundated with floodwaters in the aftermath of Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Lewes, Del. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Randall Chase)

  • A car is upended on a mailbox on Surf Avenue in Coney Island, N.Y., in the aftermath of Sandy on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Sandy, the storm that made landfall Monday, caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Ralph Russo)

  • This handout photo provided by NOAA, taken Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, shows post-tropical storm Sandy off the East Coast of the US. Campaign 2012 is rich with images that conjure the seriousness and silliness that unfold side-by-side in any presidential race. Who could have predicted that a superstorm would overshadow and scramble the presidential campaign in its final days? President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney revised and re-revised their campaign schedules as Hurricane Sandy, a most unlikely October surprise, barreled up the East Coast and then roared ashore in New Jersey. (AP Photo/NOAA)

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  • Damage caused by a fire at Breezy Point is shown Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. A fire department spokesman says more than 190 firefighters are at the blaze in the Breezy Point section. Fire officials say the blaze was reported around 11 p.m. Monday in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • Fire still burns at the scene of a fire in Breezy Point, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy

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  • Homes damaged by a fire at Breezy Point are shown, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy

    ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - OCTOBER 30: A man walks over debsris where a 2000-foot section of the 'uptown' boardwalk was destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding accross much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Ground Zero is seen on October 30, 2012 in the Financial District of New York, United States. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding accross much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

  • US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY

    Sailboats rest on the ground after being tipped over by Hurricane Sandy on City Island October 30, 2012 in New York. US President Obama declared New York a disaster area. The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 16 in the mainland United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people were still missing, officials said Tuesday. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY

    Boats rest on the ground after floating from their stands at dry dock on City Island , in New York October 30, 2012 following Hurricane Sandy's impact. US President Obama declared New York a disaster area The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 16 in the mainland United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people were still missing, officials said Tuesday. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Homes destroyed by a fire at Breezy Point are shown, in the New York City borough of Queens Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. The fire destroyed between 80 and 100 houses Monday night in the flooded neighborhood. More than 190 firefighters have contained the six-alarm blaze fire, but they are still putting out some pockets of fire. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

  • US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY

    Boats rest on the ground after floating from their stands at dry dock on City Island , in New York October 30, 2012 following Hurricane Sandy's impact. US President Obama declared New York a disaster area The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 16 in the mainland United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people were still missing, officials said Tuesday. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY

    Residents look at damage left by Hurricane Sandy on City Island, New York, October 30, 2012. US President Obama declared New York a disaster area The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 16 in the mainland United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people were still missing, officials said Tuesday. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY

    Boats rest on the ground after floating from their stands at dry dock on City Island , in New York October 30, 2012 following Hurricane Sandy's impact. US President Obama declared New York a disaster area The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 16 in the mainland United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people were still missing, officials said Tuesday. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: A truck drives through a flooded street, caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012, in the Lower East Side of New York City. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding accross much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)