Cable operators across the south and southwest are currently assessing the damage to their systems caused by Hurricane Laura, the storm that raged through parts of Louisiana and south Texas earlier this week.
According to reports, Laura made landfall on Aug. 27 at about 1 a.m. near Cameron, La., 35 miles from the Texas border, leaving a path of destruction with winds of up to 150 mph, heavy rains and flooding. At least six lives were lost in Louisiana. Cities and towns in the path of the storm -- one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the area -- are still assessing the damage. Some reports have as many as one million residents in Texas and Louisiana are without power.
While it could have been worse -- initial predictions called for storm surges of more than 20 feet and flooding as far as 40 miles inland, which didn’t happen -- cable operators and municipalities continue to dig out of the damage from the storm.
At Sparklight, formerly Cable One, systems in Jasper and Sour Lake, Texas and in Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana were affected by the storm. Sparklight said it is still in the process of assessing the damage. “Thankfully, and most importantly – all of our associates are accounted for and safe,” the company said in an email message.
Altice USA’s Suddenlink Communications has operations in Louisiana and Texas -- including the heavily hit Lake Charles, La. area -- and CEO Dexter Goei told employees in a memo that the company is currently assessing the damage. He added that Altice USA began making preparations for the storm early, ensuring that employees had the resources necessary to stay safe and ready themselves for restoration efforts. That included encouraging local employees to heed mandatory evacuation warnings, closing down and boarding up its local retail stores and other buildings, fueling generators and vehicles, placing out-of-state field teams on standby to assist, and more.
“While we are still waiting to gain access to many of the hardest hit areas, we know that hurricane-force winds have caused extreme damage and there will likely be a long road of recovery ahead for many of the communities we serve,” Goei said in the memo.
Altice USA added that it has dispatched resources to ensure customers are educated on its restoration efforts, and is in close coordination with local utilities and authorities so it can address any issues with its network when the power comes back.
For its employees who have been displaced, experienced destruction of property or are facing hardship resulting from the storm, Goei noted the Altice USA Employee Disaster Relief Fund is available to provide financial assistance to employees who have been impacted by natural disasters. The program is funded by employee contributions, which are matched by Altice USA up to $50,000 annually.
Cox Communications said the storm represented a significant power outage in its Acadiana, La., system where its retail stores remain closed, adding that it too is assessing damage.
“Once power is restored and it is safe for our employees, we’ll be working in neighborhoods as needed to reconnect customers,” Cox said in an email.
Comcast also is assessing the damage from the storm, adding that so far it has had power outages in areas like Shreveport and Monroe, La. and Little Rock, Ark.
“Our teams are out today assessing plant and drop damage today where it’s safe to do so,” Comcast said.
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