The devastating tornadoes that struck Arkansas killing dozens of people this week took down a 300-foot guyed cell tower in Vilonia, and a 250-foot self-supported cell tower in Mayflower. Both towers fell to the North, missing the equipment shelters. A generator was slightly damaged but still running.
American Tower owns both structures. The Mayflower tower had AT&T, Verizon and Cricket as tenants, and the Vilonia tower had five carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and an Internet service provider. The carriers were able to bring up service with temporary towers the day after the storm blew through.
“The Vilonia tower took a direct hit. The whole structure was full of debris. Anything you can imagine was in there. We found a kitchen sink next to it,” said Nicholas Toombs, project manager, AT&T Turf, Arkansas, Westower Communications. “We will end up scraping everything to the ground and starting over, maybe with a new foundation.”
Westower Communications is helping in the restoration of service and replacement of fallen towers in both locations for American Tower, and Toombs, who is from Mayflower, is the point of contact for restoration and repairs.
“Now we are going to coordinate with everyone to facilitate the rebuild of the towers,” he said. “The reconstruction is a really big deal, because the temporary towers only go up to 125 feet, which is a big impact on coverage and capacity at a time when we have lots of people involved in recovery efforts.”
As of today, however, Toombs and his crew are not yet allowed to touch the downed towers as insurance company adjustors survey the damage.
Along with its COW, AT&T brought in several mobile charging stations to help central Arkansas residents stay connected to family and friends during the aftermath of Sunday’s deadly tornadoes.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We are coordinating with local authorities, assessing damage and deploying resources, including a temporary COW tower near Mayflower,” AT&T officials said in a prepared release. “We are deploying generators to areas impacted by power loss and continue to closely monitor our network. We recommend text messaging for communications with family, friends and loved ones given heavy call volumes.”
Six AT&T charging stations are being placed across the damaged area, allowing citizens and responders to charge their wireless devices.