TAMPA, FL and BEDMINSTER, NJ — Residents of Florida and emergency crews that are in the path of Hurricane Ivan can count on Verizon Wireless to help them stay connected during the storm. The Verizon Wireless network, in the areas hit hardest by the most recent hurricanes, has weathered the storms and continues to remain strong at 98.4 percent capacity.
In addition to hundreds of Florida-based Verizon Wireless personnel already in place, the company today began mustering additional trained technicians, customer-support personnel and emergency equipment, including cells on wheels and cells on light trucks, to be ready when and where Hurricane Ivan makes landfall in Florida.
Verizon Wireless has helped thousands of residents during recent hurricanes, Charley and Frances, and is prepared to offer assistance again:
- More than 7,000 people were assisted by Verizon Wireless Emergency Communication Centers (WECCs) during Hurricanes Charley and Frances. The WECCs were set up in centrally located areas to provide residents the use of wireless phones for free calls to loved ones, disaster relief agencies and insurance companies, and also made available technicians to fix broken phones and replace and charge batteries all free of charge and regardless of the phone's carrier. Verizon Wireless is prepared to set up additional WECCs as needed when and where Hurricane Ivan hits.
- More than 1,000 wireless phones and equipment have been provided to local and statewide emergency responders including FEMA and the Florida National Guard during hurricanes Charley and Frances. This number is in addition to 8,000 Verizon Wireless lines and 50 NationalAccess Aircards that were recently purchased by the state of Florida, including Florida's State Technology Office, which handles disaster communications for the governor's office. Verizon Wireless has an additional 700 devices ready to support emergency response teams during Hurricane Ivan should any organization require network coverage.
- To prepare for possible damage to cell towers, the company has 28 COWs (cells on wheels) and COLTs (cells on light trucks) and more than 200 portable generators at the ready. Should damage occur with Hurricane Ivan, technicians will begin repairs as soon as it is safe to do so. Repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Frances began as the storm was still moving across Florida. Throughout the year, Verizon Wireless prepares comprehensive disaster recovery plans to test emergency generators and back-up batteries to keep the network online in the event of a power outage. In Florida alone, more than 85 percent of the individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless have their own on-site generators.
- Additional Verizon Wireless technicians from across the country have traveled to Florida to help the Verizon Wireless Florida team keep the network running and to assist in relief efforts. More relief, including emergency power generating equipment and customer service personnel, is on the way in preparation for Hurricane Ivan.
As Hurricane Ivan approaches, Verizon Wireless offers Florida residents the following emergency communication tips:
- Keep wireless phone batteries and extras charged whenever possible, such as with a vehicle charger or an outlet with safe, available electricity.
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers and program them into your phone.
- If having to dial 9-1-1, remember to hit the "Send" key and state your location.
- Use TXT Messaging as an alternative way of getting quick messages to individuals or groups.
Families and friends outside of the storm area hoping to reach victims also are urged to first call the American Red Cross at 866-GET-INFO, rather than trying to call the victim directly, to relieve demand on the wireless and landline networks in the storm-struck areas.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 40.4 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.