IOWA DERECHO 2020

Fewer than 2,000 with no power in Linn County

Internet service providers working to restore damage to fiber network.

Lineman Todd Nyland of Manchester waits for his colleague to bring his bucket up to help him connect a new cross arm on
Lineman Todd Nyland of Manchester waits for his colleague to bring his bucket up to help him connect a new cross arm on a utility pole along Winslow Road in Marion on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Nearly two weeks after a derecho devastated Eastern Iowa and ripped down power lines for hundreds of thousands of customers, Alliant Energy said Sunday evening it was on the verge of restoring power throughout Linn County.

As of 5 p.m., 1,838 customers in Linn County were without power. Since Saturday, power was restored for Alliant customers in Johnson County and for MidAmerican Energy’s Iowa City area customers and Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative’s entire customer base.

According to a spreadsheet from the Iowa Utilities Board, the estimated full-power restoration time for Cedar Rapids is Monday. Marion’s estimation for restoration was still Sunday.

“We are certainly almost there,” an Alliant spokesman told The Gazette. “We’ve made great progress reconnecting homeowners this weekend.”

Internet providers were working closely behind Alliant to restore their customers.

ImOn has restored service to 72 percent of its customers as of Sunday afternoon, according to spokeswoman Lisa Rhatigan. Mediacom said its staff is working to restore internet to its customers in the Cedar Rapids area, which covers Fairfax, Hiawatha, Marion, Mount Vernon, Newhall, Norway, Palo, Swisher and Toddville as well, said spokeswoman Phyllis Peters.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, more than 12,000 of those customers remained without internet.

Peters said technicians are working to fix parts of the fiber-optic network including the nodes, which connect to provide internet services to customer’s homes.

“A node in one neighborhood may be without power or is under repair,” Peters said. “At the same time, homes on one side of the node may have their electrical power. But until the power or repair is made at the node, there will be customer locations within a radius of the node where internet signals are unable to be delivered.”

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Peters said another situation the company is finding is that there is damage to the hard line fiber or the last feet of the fiber-coax that connects after the node and closest to the home.

“So we repair or have power to the node, but some homes are still without internet because of the damage between node and home,” she said.

So to figure out where the problems lie, workers have had to walk every foot of the fiber-optic network, neighborhood by neighborhood Peters said. She said the internet will not always return 24 hours after power is restored because of various situations at the key network location- the neighborhood hubs.

“The routing of our network from these neighborhood nodes doesn’t mirror the power grid, which means that on one side of a block or street, power may be up and running but our internet service doesn’t yet have a clear path to reach the homes,” Peters said. “Meanwhile, on the other side of the block, everything can be functioning smoothly.”

Comments: (319) 398-8255; gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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