Community rallies after fire

When a fire breaks out in an old wood building—destroying a popular community steakhouse and melting TDS equipment leaving residents without phone or internet service—what can a community do?

In the case of Big Creek, Mississippi, the answer was “a lot.”

For nearly 48 hours, TDS technicians and contractors from Southern Diversified Technologies worked around the clock to clear the completely melted equipment cabinet and get services back up and running. Residents, officials, and local businesses in this community were extremely helpful, supportive, and chipped in to help in many unexpected ways.

The initial challenge was just beating back the remains of the fire, but Mayor Dwight Devall lent a hand. He brought in his tractor to move rubble and smoldering embers that were creating so much smoke it was extremely difficult for technicians and contractors to breathe (let alone work). Then, he had the fire truck brought in and helped spray down the area until the hotspots were completely extinguished.

Since billowing smoke was no longer filling the air, the technicians began the process of installing and connecting a new cabinet in order to restore communications services.

As it happens, the TDS equipment was located very close to a busy road, so this phase of the restoration work posed a different safety challenge. Thankfully, Police Chief David Payner blocked off a lane of traffic for most of the 48 hours—using his own his official vehicle—so there was room for our technicians to work.

The remains of the melted equipment cabinet.

If that wasn’t enough, one afternoon, Chief Payner and his sister Minnie Bell Winters, owner of Martin’s Grocery, stopped by with hamburgers, fries, and brownies for all the workers. Another time, the mayor delivered biscuits and sandwiches. In addition, the team was provided with a key to the fire station. This way, they could access the building anytime to get fresh water, use the bathrooms, and simply cool down from the 100+ temps.

“I’m proud of the way our team worked with the community,” said Donnie Jimerson, field service manager at TDS. “The way we were treated was awesome—and truly appreciated. We look forward to continuing to be your communications provider!”

And, thanks to everyone in Big Creek who helped us get services back up and running!

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