Midwest Tornadoes Rip Up Cable - Multichannel

Midwest Tornadoes Rip Up Cable

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Cable operators in the Midwest are still computing their losses due to a flurry of killer tornadoes that swept through the region early last week, wreaking the most havoc in Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

"We're lucky they touched down at night," said David Farren, Classic Cable's regional technical operations manager. "No one was out."

Classic systems in Missouri and Arkansas lost only 10 miles of plant in the community of Shell Knob, Mo. Plant serving an entire subdivision will have to be rebuilt, but only after the poles are replaced.

Between 50 and 100 homes were damaged and another 100 to 150 were without power for the entire week. Cable technicians must follow emergency power crews, so video service won't be restored until this week.

Mediacom Communications Corp. was hit harder. According to operations director Bill Fischer, the MSO lost about half its cable system in Carl Junction and all of its system in Battlefield. Both franchises are in Missouri.

The Kansas City division of Time Warner Cable had 14,000 customers affected in Kansas City, Kan., and communities it serves in Platte and Clay counties, according to Carol Rothwell, vice president of public affairs.

Of those connections, 1,200 homes are either totally destroyed or badly damaged. The company will have to replace up to eight miles of plant.

The good news, according to Rothwell, is the company found a new use for a new diagnostic tool, iGlass. That equipment tracks non-responding digital boxes, affording the system a clear picture of the problem areas and even allowing it to track the path of the twisters.

Time Warner anticipated reconnecting its habitable homes by May 9.

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