TNBA Members Recovering After Historic Storm System Devastates Area

Posted: December 17, 2021

Telcos come together to offer support

Tennessee Broadband Association (TNBA) members are recovering after a historic quad-state tornado struck Northwest Tennessee late Friday night during what is considered one of the most powerful and damaging December storms on record.

TNBA member cooperative WK&T, headquartered in Mayfield, Kentucky, was hit hard by the storm, destroying much of downtown. The National Weather Service surveyed the damage and graded the storm an EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. According to the NWS, the storm’s winds peaked at an estimated 190 mph and the tornado had a maximum width of a mile or more.

“We are devastated for those in Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee affected by this storm,” says WK&T CEO Trevor Bonnstetter. “Our members are and always have been our top priority. We are here to serve them.”

Bonnstetter added, “Generators were used Friday night and for the next four days to ensure our network was up and running. This experience showcased the reliability of WK&T’s 100% buried fiber network. That’s important because our members need the internet to connect with loved ones.”

WK&T’s entire team has worked diligently with members who suffered connectivity issues due to the effects of the storm.

WK&T established a special fund for donations, with 100% of the proceeds going to families in Western Kentucky and Northwest Tennessee. Contributions received before Christmas are going toward providing holiday gifts to children affected. The fund will stay open for donations to help families recover in the coming months.

You can contribute in the following ways:

  1. Checks can be mailed or dropped off to WK&T at 100 WK&T Technology Drive, Mayfield, KY 42066. Please include a note that it’s for the WK&T Tornado Disaster Relief Fund.
  2. Give by credit card on the WK&T website and click on the “Donate” button. This payment type will incur transactions fees.

“My heart is heavy for WK&T, Mayfield, Dresden, and all those affected by the storm,” says TNBA Executive Director Carrie Huckeby. “For years when I was at WK&T, Mayfield was my home away from home, and to see it like this is truly heartbreaking. But I know they are resilient and strong. They will recover and we are here to help them any way we can.”

Similarly, the service areas of TDS Telecommunications LLC in Decatur, Hickman, Henderson, and Perry counties were impacted by the storm.

“Our facilities were spared major damage, but equipment hubs are without commercial power,” says Bruce Mottern, the TDS manager for state government affairs in Kentucky and Tennessee. “Generators were deployed to power critical equipment locations. We were fortunate to be far less affected than others, and our thoughts are with those struck by this unprecedented weather event.”

The NCTC locations in Lafayette, Tennessee, and Westmoreland, Tennessee, were spared heavy damage. The company’s neighbors in Bowling Green were struck pretty hard.

“We were lucky this time and dodged a direct hit to NCTC’s immediate service area, but our electric partner Warren RECC in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has been working around the clock to restore power to 28,000 of their members,” says NCTC President and CEO Johnny McClanahan. “We are still assessing the damage and will be able to tell more once all the power is restored. We know all too well the value of assistance when something like this happens, so we are prepared to help where we are needed.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee visited Dresden, Tennessee, which is also served by WK&T, shortly after the devastating storm. Lee said it was, “a very heartbreaking and difficult day for the state of Tennessee, tremendous devastation in multiple places.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and activated over 180 National Guard members.

“I want to thank every local emergency management employee, police officer, firefighter, and first responder. This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history. It’s hard to put into words,” Beshear said. “Remember, each of these lost lives is children of God, irreplaceable to their families and communities. But we will make it through this. We will rebuild. We are strong, resilient people, and we’re going to be there every step of the way. This is one state standing strong.”

If you want to help further, United Way of Kentucky is coordinating donations. Please visit the United Way of Kentucky website for more info.