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Cable Operators

Storms Smash Mid-Atlantic MSOs

7/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Employees in Comcast’s Beltway Region
(Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.) — the areas
hit hardest by the devastating storms that swept through
the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions last week — have
been working around the clock to restore service to customers,
fighting sweltering heat and lack of sleep.

Thousands of Comcast employees — including technicians
from the region whose own homes were damaged
and left without power during the storms, and those from
other Comcast divisions outside the region — have been
working tirelessly since the storms hit, the company said.

According to Comcast officials, several technicians began
immediately canvassing their own neighborhoods,
assessing damage and offering to pitch in with the restoration
efforts almost immediately after the weather cleared.

One employee, according to Comcast Beltway Region
spokeswoman Alisha Martin, returned to the restoration
effort immediately after the birth of his daughter.

BATTLING HEAT , TOO

Others went above and beyond their job descriptions,
helping neighbors and residents remove tree branches
blocking streets and driveways.

With temperatures climbing well above 100 degrees in
the days after the storms, Comcast managers and supervisors
both within and outside the region have been pitching
in, providing water, Gatorade and boxed lunches to workers
in the field, as well as finding places for employees to
shower and sleep.

Some workers were forced to sleep on porches during
parts of the restoration effort, Martin said.

The storms brought heavy rains and high winds that
knocked out trees and power lines, cutting off electricity
to more than 4.3 million homes and claiming at least 26
lives, according to the Associated Press.

States of emergency were declared in Maryland, West
Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia,
where the most damage occurred.

All in all, the storms cut a path through 10 states from
Indiana to southern New Jersey, traveling nearly 700 miles
in about 10 hours on June 29, according to the Edison Electric
Institute, a trade group for the electric-utility industry.

As of the morning of June 6, about 416,000 homes
were still without power, according to the U.S. Energy
Department.

While Comcast wasn’t the only service provider affected
— Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Verizon
Communications all had crews working around the clock
to restore service in their territories affected by the storms
— it was the hardest-hit.

The vast majority of issues were related to power outages,
Comcast Northeast division spokeswoman Beth Bacha
said. Workers from outlying Comcast regions poured into
the Beltway area to help, she added.

That included workers from Comcast’s Central Division,
said spokesman Brian Farley. It sent teams to the East
Coast to support those areas affected more severely than
the Midwest. While some areas in that division — Indiana
and Michigan — were hit by the storms, most of its outages
were power-related.

“We are quickly restoring service, once areas are safe
and power is returned to affected areas,” Farley said in an
email. “We’re using generators to help maintain services
where necessary, especially in neighborhoods where
some homes may be affected, but others still have power/
our service.”

OHIO HIT HARD

Time Warner Cable spokesman Justin Venech said that the
storms hit the MSO’s central Ohio division the hardest, but
that plant damage and impact were minimal. Venech said
most of the damage was power-related, and while a number
of customers were still without electricity, their cable
service is being restored as their power returns.

Cox Communications spokesman Todd Smith said
employees are working around the clock in Northern
Virginia and Roanoke, with help from Cox crews across
the country.

“Our restoration priorities call for us to restore core infrastructure;
critical medical, government and publicsafety
customers; and then commercial and residential
entities,” Cox said in a statement. It publicized the availability
of free Internet and device-charging stations at the
Cox Solutions Store in Roanoke.

Verizon said it continues to gain ground in restoring service
to the Mid-Atlantic region, adding that incoming repair
reports are trending downward, and the number of
repairs it is completing each day is now exceeding the volume
of new-repair reports coming in. As of the morning
of July 5, Verizon workers were responding to 156 downed
utility poles and 897 downed copper wires or fiber-optic
lines in the region.

September