Morning of the Flood
When the community of 77 people flooded on Tuesday, May 12, 2021 they lost Internet and electrical power for three days. Luckily, Lyle Fabian from Katlo’tech Communications in Yellowknife was available to help.
Three years ago, Lyle worked with the community to install Wireless Access Points (WAPs) to distribute internet in the community from a connection provided by Northwestel. Since then Lyle has been involved in maintaining the system – and has always appreciated the value of being prepared — “whether it’s flooding, fire, tornadoes, or whatever it is,” he says.
The day of the flood Lyle travelled to the community. After surveying the damage, he contacted the Internet service provider. Northwestel made it a priority to send out a technician to ensure the community had a communications link. To keep connections intact, Northwestel was powering their cell tower by flying in daily fuel by helicopter to power a generator.
Next, Lyle scheduled a time to return to the community to fix the local wireless equipment. Due to severe flood damage, the Band office set up in the youth center and worked from a temporary work trailer loaned by the local MLA, Rocky Simpson. Since the youth centre was the only building with an Internet connection, Lyle developed a plan to create a wireless access point to share that connection with people working in the new work trailer.
When he arrived on Tuesday afternoon, Lyle learned that power still hadn’t been connected to the work trailer. Since the community had lost its normal power source, they were using backup generators that had damaged the Internet routers. Northwestel’s tower had been impacted by the flooding, but since it rests on high enough ground it was not physically damaged. Lyle also needed to find power to realign the access points to redistribute internet from the tower across the community.
Lyle fixed the system by setting up solar panels to power up the wireless system and realigned the local network’s Wireless Access Points (WAPs).
“So, (before I) drove back to Yellowknife, I said all you have to do when you get power to the trailer is plug (the power back) in, and the access points will carry Internet from the youth centre to the youth trailer.”
That Friday, Internet was fully restored in the community through the solar-powered WAPs.