Supporting Communities in Eastern Kentucky Impacted by the Devastating Flooding
Accelecom, a Kentucky-based high-speed fiber optics provider and exclusive wholesaler of the KentuckyWired Project, and Rajant Corporation, the pioneer of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks with operations in Morehead Kentucky, have teamed up to launch six free Wi-Fi sites throughout the Eastern Kentucky region that has been devastated by major flooding. Since the flooding hit the region, communications have been sparse at best. Families affected and those traveling to the area to aid relief efforts are struggling to get communication points up and running. The two companies realized there was a huge opportunity to help support those impacted and got to work on Friday, August 5th. By Monday, August 8th, Accelecom was able to establish six working Wi-Fi sites using 14 LX5 units donated by Rajant. Each zone covers an arc of approximately 200 meters from the installation point.
These zones are open to anyone and can be found at the following locations:
Letcher County Health Center
115 E Main Street
Network: FEMA Rajant
Knott County Health Center
880 W Main Street
Network: Knott Rajant
Perry County Health Center
239 Lovern Street
Network: Redcross Rajant
Kentucky River District Health Department
441 Gorman Hollow Road
Network: Rajant – Perry Co. – 5Ghz
Leslie County Health Center
78 Maple Street
Network: Rajant – Leslie Co – 5Ghz
Owsley County Health Center
282 KY 28
Network: Rajant – Owsley Co. – 5Ghz
“The KentuckyWired project started as an Eastern Kentucky idea, and Accelecom’s reach has grown the most in this region. When we heard about the devastation from the floods, we wanted to help and knew we could turn to Rajant for support. Wi-Fi is a critical yet often underrecognized necessity. Finding a way to provide access to Eastern Kentuckians was an easy decision,” commented Kathryn Robertson, Accelecom Director of Business Development.
“The free Wi-Fi zones are already helping with cleanup and recovery efforts. The first zone activated was the Letcher County Health Center, and the people working with the FEMA operation located adjacent to the building were the first to connect. We knew these zones would benefit the community, but it feels great to see it in person and know that we are helping,” stated Justin Warren, Rajant Sales Director.
Since the flooding occurred, over 1,300 people have been rescued, but crews are still struggling to reach people who remain cut off. Telephone landline services have also been disrupted, adding stress to those desperately searching for their loved ones. Being able to offer Wi-Fi to these communities swiftly is a powerful and advantageous tool for those in the area to provide aid, to continue search and rescue efforts, and to be able to let folks know they’re safe.
Before the devastation, the two companies had already been working hard together to provide broadband access to underserved communities throughout Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia. “By extending Accelecom’s fiber network via the Rajant Kinetic Mesh networking, underserved communities can now quickly deploy services, which until now, only major cities could afford. They include such things as public safety cameras, smart meters, smart parking, public event Wi-Fi, and more,” noted Warren. It’s because of this infrastructure that the Wi-Fi spots went live so quickly. “We’re a fiber business built by locals to support local communities; we’re invested in the wellbeing of our communities and this is Kentucky’s network. These Wi-Fi zones are just one more way we are proving our commitment to our fellow Kentuckians and communities,” said Robertson.
The Kentucky River District Health Department, which suffered damages to their offices along with having staff impacted by the flooding, has also been hard at work since the flooding occurred. According to Scott Lockard, Director of Kentucky River District Health Department,
“The health department has always focused on identifying the needs of the community and working with partners to meet those needs. We recognize that many members of our community have lost internet and communication services. The ability to connect to the free Wi-Fi established by Accelecom and Rajant at each of our health departments will help the members of our community during this crisis. Entities responding with services to our residents such as FEMA and the Red Cross will also be able to do so more efficiently with the high-speed internet these networks offer.”
This project wouldn’t have been possible without the coordination of The Center for Rural Development (who partnered with Accelecom for our infrastructure throughout EKY), the Eastern Kentucky Health Departments and Rajant