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Storm-Ready — Smithville Planning Pays Off During Severe Weather

Storm-Ready — Smithville Planning Pays Off During Severe Weather

ELLETTSVILLE – Beginning in March 2023, severe storms and tornadoes disrupted or even eliminated power infrastructure across southern Indiana on three separate occasions, temporarily isolating rural homes and businesses. Despite widespread damage and outages, Smithville crews tapped pre-positioned supplies and advance preparation to keep internet and phone service live in the storms’ aftermath, earning accolades from customers.

With several thousand customers on landlines because of cell-blocking hills in southern Indiana, physical restoration of service from an outage is always a high priority at Smithville, according to Darby A. McCarty, chairman and CEO of Smithville.

“We fully appreciate that broadband connectivity and telephone service represent critical essential services for residents and businesses,” she said. “We invest considerable resources to be prepared for storm-related damage to restore services quickly.”

Customers Express Appreciation 
Just before the Fourth of July weekend, two senior citizens in their late 80s were understandably anxious when state-spanning derecho straight-line winds annihilated infrastructure across Indiana. They later wrote: “We lost our phone service on Saturday night, July 1, at about 9 p.m., when a vicious storm brought down a huge tree along with the phone line! Cell service in our area is unpredictable at best, so we were fraught with anxiety as we are 89 and 87 with serious heart conditions.”

Their justified anxiety was relieved when Smithville construction crews showed up “to rescue us. They were concerned, kind, courteous, patient, and efficient…We wanted you to know how much we appreciate all their efforts on our behalf.”

Expressing their gratitude, the couple further noted how they understood the efforts and expertise required for rapid restoration: “Having survived forty-six years of killer hurricanes in south Florida, we know the training and skills required of the women and men who provide and maintain the essential services we so often take for granted. We admire their courage and willingness to solve monumental problems…[regarding] our former home, often in a hostile environment as Hurricane Ian wreaked on the area. Smithville is fortunate to have these fine gentlemen on staff to ease our fears and fix our phones!”

Pre-planning And Teamwork Ensure Customers Stay Connected

“This has been a challenging year of severe weather, but our crews have proven themselves ready and up for the task,” said Casey Smith, Superintendent of Smithville’s Outside Plant Services. “Beginning with the storms on the last day of March, our crews have had their hands full – it’s been a tough stretch of inclement weather.”

According to the National Weather Service, 23 tornadoes were reported in the March 31 storm. Power was extensively knocked out across the state, plunging thousands of power customers into darkness and isolation.

“Our professionals remain ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, especially when we’re tracking storms the magnitude of what impacted Indiana earlier this year,” Smith said.

“When the storms hit earlier this year, Smithville responded quickly, and it took a team effort to do so. We had portable or fixed generators up and running to power our telephone and internet facilities,” Smith explained. “We had planned for possible storm-related outages, and our Central Office team worked with our crews in the field to keep our customers connected to what matters most to them.”

In severe weather, aerial poles supplying power can be destroyed, sometimes carrying Smithville fiber connectivity. “Where there was utility pole damage, our crews followed immediately behind the power companies to restore physical fiber connectivity, often working around the clock,” Smith said. Smithville maintains its aerial pole structure in some areas, handled directly by Smithville crews.

Smithville physical facilities are designed and built with battery backups to handle short-term power outages, but batteries can be quickly drained when a power outage is extended.

“It’s important that we get generators – whether fixed or portable – up and running very quickly,” Smith said. “We keep our diesel tanks topped off and ready to go.”

Ready to Serve
What was a high point during the storms? “I personally appreciated the fact that our professionals were ready to go, even when they had scheduled time away in advance, especially during the Fourth of July severe storm.”

Smith remarked that Smithville professionals called him to volunteer for emergency service even before all the damage reports were in. “You can’t ask for better talent,” Smith concluded. “We’re all very pleased with our teams and their commitment to keep communities connected and enrich our customers’ lives.”

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About Smithville
Nationally recognized for more than a decade as a Top 100 Broadband Company, privately owned Smithville is Indiana’s largest independent telecom company with more than 200 employees. As a fifth-generation, family-owned business, Smithville has been committed to delivering fast and reliable connectivity and legendary customer service for over a full century. The company is well-known as an industry leader and community supporter for rural Indiana. Since the early 1990s, Smithville has constructed more than 3,000 miles of high-speed, high-capacity fiber across more than 22 Indiana counties, representing private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars, including a $4.5 million, 100-gigabit fiber ring.

In addition to its residential services, Smithville provides commercial fiber-based connectivity for businesses, university campuses, biotechnology companies, healthcare providers, government offices, residential centers, communities, and other entities, including the WestGate@Crane Technology Park and the Purdue Research Park. The company serves about 23,000 businesses and residences in southern and central Indiana. For more information, please visit

Media contact: Michael Snyder, MEK