Verizon Wireless says it is prepared for Hurricane Irene, and is offering customers tips to be prepared as well, as the storm approaches the East Coast of the U.S.
The company says its wireless and wireline operations teams from Florida to Maine are completing the tasks necessary for preparation, and points out that since last year's storm season, has launched its 4G LTE network in numerous markets along the East Coast.
"Wireless communication is critical before, during and after hurricanes and other weather-related emergencies," said Nancy Clark, Northeast president for Verizon Wireless. "We work hard every day to enhance and maintain the nation's largest, most reliable wireless network and to deliver consistently superior service to our customers when and where they need it most. Preparation is key to staying safe. We have years of experience of planning for and maintaining service during severe weather and are very proud of how our employees and network have performed in meeting these challenges."
Verizon says its Business Continuity and Emergency Management team has activated its National Emergency Coordination CEnter, so that Verizon execs can quickly deploy recovery efforts. They're also preparing for possible flooding, power outages and downed trees and wires. They're reviewing the inventory of supplies like utility poles, cable and other equipment and are already staffing positions specifically for recovery.
"The Verizon communications networks require power to function properly," the company says. "If commercial power goes out, backup batteries and generators in Verizon's central switching offices, mobile units and field facilities keep power flowing so customers' phones ring even when the lights go out. The company is pre-arranging fuel delivery for these critical facilities to ensure they continue to function during possible extended power outages."
They're also moving trucks and other portable equipment out of low-lying areas where possible, while building sump pumps are being tested and drains and gutters cleared.
"At Verizon, we know how critical communications are during and after severe storms, and customers can count on our network to weather the storm," said Chris Creager, Verizon Telecom senior vice president of national operations for consumer and mass markets. "We've learned over the past 100-plus years what we need to do to minimize the impact of Mother Nature on our network so that service is maintained and we can respond quickly and effectively when problems do develop."
In addition to its own preparations, Verizon is encouraging its customers who may be in the path of Hurricane Irene to prepare as well. The company has provided the following tips:
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location. Consider waterproof accessories or simple zip-lock storage bags to protect devices.
- Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for backup power.
- Maintain a list of emergency numbers – police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Download applications from a wide variety of weather- and safety-related apps for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Many of these apps are free.
- Use a service such as Backup Assistant, the free Verizon Wireless application that stores a phone's address book on a secure server in case the phone is lost or damaged.
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you evacuate.
- Check weather and news reports on wireless phone applications when power is out.
- Customers who rely solely on cordless phones in their home should consider purchasing an inexpensive hard-wired phone that plugs directly into a wall jack. Cordless phones will not function without commercial power.
- While home answering machines do not work without power, Verizon voice mail service powered by the network will help families communicate.
The hurricane has already prompted evacuation efforts in New York. It's getting closer.