IOWA DERECHO 2020

Some Mediacom, ImOn customers still waiting for internet 17 days after derecho

'In some areas, the network is simply gone'

Chris Noble of Cedar Rapids charges his electronic devices and uses the free Wi-Fi on Aug. 15 at the U.S. Cellular Cente
Chris Noble of Cedar Rapids charges his electronic devices and uses the free Wi-Fi on Aug. 15 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Mediacom and ImOn reported progress in restoring cable and internet connections in Cedar Rapids but also noted the heavy damage systems took in the Aug. 10 derecho. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Many residents in the Cedar Rapids area continued to be without internet Thursday as crews come in from other states to restore service.

Fifteen percent of Mediacom customers in the Cedar Rapids area did not have internet as of 4 p.m. Thursday, spokeswoman Phyllis Peters told The Gazette.

ImOn spokeswoman Lisa Rhatigan said almost 23 percent of customers are without internet, as of 2 p.m. Thursday.

Neither disclosed how many households those percentages represent.

“I understand your frustration, as many ImOn employees are trying work from home due to COVID-19 without internet service,” ImOn president and CEO Patrice Carroll said in a Thursday news conference.

Mediacom and ImOn are both bringing in help from across the country, including crews from hurricane-prone states like South Carolina.

“We completely understand it’s frustrating without internet service,” Steve Purcell, group vice president for Mediacom, said at a Thursday news conference. “We’re working hard to get services back up.”

Carroll said areas still without service — 17 days after the Aug. 10 derecho — are places with the most damage.

In some cases, flying debris shredded ImOn cabling.

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“In some areas, the network is simply gone,” Carroll said. “It blew away, and we need to rebuild from scratch in these sections.”

Telecommunication companies like ImOn or Mediacom had to wait for electric utilities to first restore power before they could work on damaged lines.

For its part, Alliant Energy reported 22 customers still without electrical power in Linn County as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

More than 2,000 Alliant customers in Marion temporarily lost power Wednesday, when a tree limb fell on power lines, but power was restored for most in less than an hour.

Alliant spokesman Mike Wagner told The Gazette that crews from other utilities helping Alliant restore electrical service left earlier this week. No Alliant crews will go to Texas and Louisiana for outages from Hurricane Laura, he said.

ITC Midwest is keeping its crews in Iowa “to restore resiliency and reliability to the electric transmission system,” spokesman Rod Pritchard said.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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