Wiping out internet for weeks, derecho made world smaller

Cedar Rapids man finds bright spots despite Mediacom 'nightmare'

Mitchell Levin stands Aug. 31 in the front yard of his damaged house in southeast Cedar Rapids. Levin hadn't been able t
Mitchell Levin stands Aug. 31 in the front yard of his damaged house in southeast Cedar Rapids. Levin hadn’t been able to blog or write a monthly column for an Israeli magazine since because he internet was out at his home for weeks after the storm passed. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — As Mitchell Levin was writing an article upstairs in his Cedar Rapids home, he noticed the August sky darken.

It was the beginning of a few minutes that changed the rest of his year. Then his house went dark.

After that, a loud thud came from above as a tree pierced his roof. Right after his generator kicked in, he heard the crashing of his dining room windows blown out from the wind.

While those few minutes made for “probably the worst moment” of 2020, something else made it even more problematic for Levin: a lack of internet for weeks.

He was one of the thousands of Cedar Rapidians to go an extended period without internet service following the Aug. 10 derecho.

At first, he thought it wasn’t such a problem. Mediacom service was not his top priority.

“Because we had to get the tree literally out of the house,” Levin said.

But the roof was getting fixed. His internet wasn’t.

“Dealing with Mediacom turned into a nightmare,” he said. “When things started to settle down, I realized the cavalry wasn’t coming, that Mediacom didn’t care.”

Levin, whose wife died in 2019, felt “cut off” from the world. He missed making three weeks of posts on his blog “This Day in Jewish History.” He missed his monthly column that has run in an Israeli magazine since 2010, too.

“All of a sudden, the blog was gone, and the column was gone,” Levin said. “When Deb died, one of the few things that gave me an anchor was doing this stuff. … The world was much smaller.”


Eventually, he hired an electrician to fix his service. Mediacom still hasn’t come to take a look at the line in his backyard.

He’s trying not to dwell too much on his derecho misfortune, though.

“Those are the dark moments,” Levin said. “But there have been other moments where people have been amazingly helpful.”

From the contractor fixing his roof to the staff at his doctor’s office, Levin said people have been exceedingly kind and helpful. A group of friends coordinates trips to the grocery store so that Levin doesn’t risk contracting the coronavirus while shopping.

“I have some friends who, as I told my brother, are conspiring to keep me alive,” Levin said.

He didn’t lose his sense of humor in the process during a challenging 2020.

“Somebody asked me, ‘How do you know that it’s a 30-year roof?’” Levin said. “I’m 76 years old. Do you think I really worry about whether it’s a 30-year roof?”

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

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