Comcast says it can't roll trucks in Houston

Harvey
Jose Beltran (center) makes his way out of his flooded neighborhood with nephew Jonathan Beltran (left) and Abram Gutierrez.

With streets flooded and Harvey-drenched residents fleeing to shelters, Comcast Corp. doesn’t know when its trucks will be able to be used in the Houston area.

The cable giant suspended its cable and internet repairs for a second day Tuesday.

It could be days before it can make repairs as the water levels are not expected to crest until Thursday, a company official said. The National Weather Service recorded 51.88 inches of rainfall from Harvey at Cedar Bayou, near Houston. Up to 30 percent of Harris County was believed to be underwater, officials said. And abut 300,000 people are thought to be homeless, including the more than 9,000 people staying at George R. Brown Convention Center, the largest shelter created so far.

Houston is one of Comcast’s larger cable markets with about 500,000 customers in the metro area. Comcast has not said how many subscribers have lost service.

The nation’s largest cable-TV company says it is waiting for a green light from emergency management agencies to say whether roads are safe for its tech trucks. If people have not suffered downed telephone poles, they could still be watching their cable or accessing the internet.

“We are in close contact with folks in Houston and we will support them,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Moyer said Tuesday.

Charter, the nation’s No. 2 cable company, also has a substantial number of customers in the Houston area.

Once clearance is granted for trucks to travel on Houston-area roads, “Comcast’s maintenance technicians will be dispatched to begin assessment and restoration efforts throughout the greater Houston area including Galveston, Liberty, Brazoria, Harris, and Fort Bend Counties,” the company said in a statement Sunday.

As part of its response to Hurricane Harvey, Comcast has opened 53,000 Xfinity WiFi hot spots to the public throughout the Houston area.

Moyer said the biggest problem with the hurricane and subsequent tropical storm has been the flooding and not the winds.

Amy Yong, an analyst with Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc., noted that Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 led Cablevision to offer substantial credits to customers for lost service.