A week after the devastating derecho that struck Iowa with hurricane-force winds, carriers have reported to the Federal Communications Commission that nearly 60 cellular network sites across the state remain out of service.
As of the latest available update on Sunday morning, the most heavily impacted counties are Benton County, with about 23% of its cell sites down (10 out of 44) and Tama County, with 12% of its cell sites down (6 out of 50). Linn County — which includes the city of Cedar Rapids — has 19 sites down out of 262, or more than 7%. A dozen Iowa counties have at least one cell site out of service.
Those numbers represent significant progress in bringing sites back online, though. When the FCC initiated reporting on derecho-related network outages on August 13 — two days after the storm — Tama County had nearly half of its cell sites down, 43% of Benton County’s sites were out, and so were nearly 31% of the sites in Linn County. Six Iowa counties had 25% or more of their cellular sites down.
None of the outages that persisted on Sunday were due to direct site damage. Carriers reported that 35 sites across the state were down due to transport issues, and another 20 sites were down due to power problems. In the first report, five sites were down due to storm damage, but power issues dominated, followed by backhaul problems.
Cable and wireline companies, meanwhile, reported an increase of customers out of service on Sunday — more than 38,000 customers, up from 32,200 customers affected on Saturday. Those outages cover telephone, television and/or internet service. All television stations in the affected areas were still operating, but eight FM stations and two AM stations were out of service as well.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has estimated the state’s total damage at nearly $4 billion — including $3.77 billion in crop damage in 36 counties.