SANTA BARBARA, CA — Firefighters in the field and evacuees at shelters in Santa Barbara County are relying on the Verizon Wireless and wireline networks to stay connected during the Jesusita wildfire.
The company has donated wireless modems for Internet access, and mobile phones with airtime to help fire fighters battle wildfires and evacuees to contact loved ones and get updates on their homes and communities. Verizon has also installed extra landline phones and high-speed Internet connections at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's (CAL FIRE) command center.
Verizon Foundation has contributed $10,000 to the Santa Barbara County chapter of the American Red Cross to further its relief efforts for the wildfire evacuees.
Keeping customers connected
Verizon technicians are waiting for permission from fire officials to enter the burned area and assess any damage to its networks from the fire, which has been burning in Santa Barbara County since Tuesday. Verizon Wireless technicians have added capacity to area cell sites to keep customers connected as mandatory evacuations of residential and commercial neighborhoods generate spikes in call volume. Backup batteries and generators have powered several sites during intermittent commercial power interruptions caused by the fire.
Support for emergency responders
Verizon has donated equipment and service to CAL FIRE and the American Red Cross. To date, the company has donated:
- 300 cell phones to help battle fires and to keep in touch with family members
- 80 wireless USB modems with Mobile Broadband service for Internet access
- 20 BlackBerry® smartphones to make phone calls and provide Internet and e-mail access
- 10 netbooks to provide Internet and e-mail access
- 50 landlines and eight high-speed Internet connections at the firefighters' command center
Support for relief efforts
To assist residents displaced by mandatory evacuations, Verizon Wireless volunteers have staffed a communications booth at the Red Cross Emergency Shelter located at Dos Pueblos High School at 7266 Alameda Avenue in Goleta. Resources for the booth include:
- 50 cell phones to make free phone calls
- 15 wireless USB modems with free Mobile Broadband service to access the Internet
Volunteers are also placing a wireless phone bank at a second emergency shelter, being opened at the University of California Santa Barbara Multi Activity Center on the UCSB campus. Information about emergency shelter is available at www.sbredcross.org.
"The devastation caused by the Jesusita Fire is heartbreaking. It's affecting our customers, communities and employees," said Kevin Zavaglia, Verizon Wireless regional president. "We are committed to making a difference for those who've been affected by this crisis."
Verizon landline customers who have lost their homes or who have been evacuated because of the Jesusita Fire can add call forwarding to their accounts at no charge as part of the company's efforts to help those in need cope with the disaster. Residential customers affected by the fire who want to set up call forwarding should call Verizon at 1-800-483-1000. Business customers should call 1-800-483-2000.
The Verizon Wireless Communications Store located at 2980 State Street is temporarily closed due to mandatory evacuations in the area. To find the nearest alternative retail location, please visit www.verizonwireless.com and click on "Store Locator."
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon's wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.