Nearly two weeks after an ice storm cut power and cable service for thousands of residents across metro Augusta, Katie Howell is among the few waiting for cable and Internet service to be restored.
The National Hills resident lost both power and cable on Feb. 12. She regained electricity three days later, but a fallen limb that was pulled off the cable line from her home has left the household without Comcast service.
In the following days, Howell has grown increasingly frustrated with the outage. She and her husband have made 10 phone calls to Comcast, one of which took about three hours, Howell said.
The Howells were first advised by employees of the cable company that they didn’t need an appointment, only to later be told that one was necessary. They’ve also experienced no-shows from workers after being told to expect someone within a 12-hour time span.
“I know it’s a luxury, but I pay for it every month to be able to watch TV,” Howell said. “The most inconvenient thing about it is that my daughter’s reading through school is done online, so that’s been an issue because we don’t have an Internet connection.”
About 99 percent of local Comcast customers who experienced outages from the ice storm are back with service, said the company’s vice president of public relations for the Big South Region, Alex Horwitz, adding that customers in North Augusta remain the most affected.
Horwitz said the “vast majority” of cases involve customers who lost power during the storm and noted that Comcast is working closely with power companies to bring people online soon after they regain power.
“It’s a tiny fraction of folks that are still offline, but again those are the result of the power being out,” he said. “The city did suffer a huge amount of damage from the storm so it’s really a neighborhood-by-neighborhood thing, with some getting the storm worse than others. Service was restored pretty quickly to the majority of customers immediately after the storm. Obviously the final number of folks are being addressed at this stage.”
Horwitz said he was unable to disclose how many local customers have been affected by outages from the storm or how many remain without service, other than to say that less than 1 percent of customers are now affected.
Horwitz said he understands some customers’ frustration with the process but added that Comcast had extra crews on standby to address any outages immediately after the storm.
Although Horwitz didn’t know off-hand the number of additional employees brought in for assistance, he said “multiple crews” came in from South Carolina, Florida and other parts of Georgia.
“Unfortunately, it’s the impact of the storm that comes in and has that sweeping effect,” he said. “We do everything we can to get people back up and running as soon as possible because we understand that these are important services. In this case, there are still a few outliers that are still waiting to be addressed.”
Service provided through WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone that had been disrupted by the ice storm took about a week-and-a-half to fully resolve, said company vice president and general manager Abu Khan.
Khan said the storm caused about 16 miles of downed cable across the area that was either rebuilt or replaced by last Thursday.
Through the weekend, crews worked to field “a few” calls from customers without service who’d recently regained power, he said.
Khan said WOW! brought in about 60 contractors and in-house employees from as far away as Chicago to assist in restoration efforts. He said it’s still too early to gauge how many customers were affected by outages but said the Hill section was the hardest hit locally.
“It’s extremely disruptive,” he said. “It’s certainly not something we want to see very often.”