IOWA DERECHO 2020

It may be 'several days' till power is restored in Eastern Iowa, officials say

As of Tuesday afternoon, little change to outages in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City areas

Electric utilities in Eastern Iowa are bracing for an extended outage as more than 100,000 residents in Linn and Johnson counties remain without power Tuesday.

A derecho storm, with winds estimated at 100 miles per hour, tore through much of the Midwest and downed power lines and other critical energy infrastructure across the state.

"The storm created damage beyond what we've seen before, and it could take several days before the majority of services are restored," said Terry Kouba, Alliant Energy's president of the Iowa utility, in a statement. "For some customers, especially those living in more rural areas, it could be longer."

As of Tuesday at 4 p.m., almost all of Alliant Energy’s customers in Linn and Johnson counties still were without power. In Linn County, 94,788 of 97,603 customers were without power, 4,509 of 9,827 in Johnson County didn't have power.

MidAmerican Energy Company has 15,537 of its 47,836 Johnson County customers without power. Spokesman Geoff Greenwood said it "may be several days" before power is fully restored in Iowa. "Dozens of crews" are coming from other companies to help MidAmerican restore power, starting with areas of "critical need."

Almost two thirds of Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative’s customers in Linn and Johnson counties— 18,417 of 30,531— were also still without power. Spokeswoman Carrie Langridge said Linn County REC is telling customers to “plan for an extended outage.”

Electric utilities asked customers to stay away from down power lines.

"Even if you think it is a cable or a telephone line, it might be in contact with a power line," Greenwood said.
Mediacom working to restore internet service.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

LATEST UPDATES:Check here for the most recent news on cleanup and more

Mediacom working to restore internet service

Mediacom spokeswoman Phyllis Peters said Mediacom has about 224,000 customers without service in Iowa, excluding the Dubuque and Quad Cities areas.

The company needs electric utilities like Alliant and MidAmerican to "take care of their business first" before Mediacom service can be restored.

"This is a layered process," Peters said. "We can’t skip a layer. There’s no reason that anyone can think they can have internet if they don’t have commercial power."

Mediacom's fiber line connecting Cedar Rapids and Vinton is damaged, Peters said, and technicians couldn't repair it overnight because of Cedar Rapids' curfew. Peters said most customers' internet service will resume once electricity comes back, though.

"Most people will have their modems active when power is restored," Peters said. "They may need to reboot or recycle that modem, but none of that happens until Alliant and MidAmerican can get their work done."

Mediacom identified three major cuts in its fiber network, Peters said. The cuts, near Vinton, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, mean some Mediacom customers still will not have internet after their electric power is restored.

"We understand this is frustrating," Peters said.

Peters said it requires "the rarest of rare" storms to cause three cuts of this size. The electric utilities get priority to make repairs before Mediacom's technicians can complete work on utility poles.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Peters urged customers to use the Mediacom's Mobile Care app or online chat functions, if they have mobile internet access.
"We respectfully ask for patience while the restoration efforts proceed on all fronts," Peters said. "There is a high volume of calls coming into our call centers, causing longer-than-normal wait times."

A spokeswoman from ImOn Communications did not immediately comment on the impact of the storm on ImOn’s services.
The storm damage also limited Iowans’ cell phone reception.

Verizon is experiencing "some network disruption" in the Cedar Rapids area because of Monday's storm, spokesman David Weissmann said.

"Fiber cable cuts during the storm and by third parties during recovery efforts afterwards are the main cause of network disruptions like these," Weissmann said in a statement. "While most of our sites have battery backup and generators, the eventual return of commercial power will also help alleviate capacity issues as more people will have access to home internet and rely less on their mobile devices for their internet needs."

A spokeswoman from U.S. Cellular was not immediately available to comment.

Nuclear power plant shuts down, sees damage to cooling towers

NextEra Energy shut down Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo as the nuclear facility lost power Monday, but spokesman Peter Robbins said the facility is “stable.”

The storm caused damage to the exterior of some buildings in the plant, including the cooling towers.

“The cooling towers there, which is part of the power production process which basically turns steam into water, were damaged pretty extensively,” Robbins said.

It is the only nuclear power plant in Iowa and is scheduled to permanently shut down in October. Robbins said it’s “too early to say” whether the damage will force Duane Arnold Energy Center to close early.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“The top priority is obviously keeping the site stable and supporting our employees,” Robbins said.

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.