Verizon is stepping up with $10,000 to assist Southern Californians who have evacuated their homes because of the recent storms that have caused floods and mudslides across the region. The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, is donating the funds to the Los Angeles County Chapter of the American Red Cross to support its shelters for residents.
In addition, Verizon is offering services to help its residential landline customers who have been affected by the storms stay connected with friends and family. Customers who have been evacuated can opt - at no charge - to have their telephone calls automatically forwarded to a working phone number at another location where they are staying, or to a wireless number.
Customers will not be billed for the one-time setup fees or monthly charges for call forwarding, although customers will be responsible for any toll charges on forwarded calls and wireless airtime charges.
"Our thoughts and hopes go out to our fellow Californians who are coping with the impact of this severe weather," said Julia Cooksey, external affairs director for Verizon. "Through this monetary contribution and by providing additional telecommunication services to those in need, we hope we can make their lives a little easier at a very trying time."
Support for Emergency Responders
Currently, Verizon is providing the following support to agencies assisting flood and mudslide victims:
- Forty wireless handsets and five Mobile Broadband cards for the Greater Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley chapters of the American Red Cross.
- Twenty wireless handsets for the Orange County Fire Authority
"The Verizon Wireless network is the most reliable in the nation and Verizon's wired network exceeds 99.9 percent reliability, so our customers know they can count on us to keep them connected anytime, especially during a crisis," Cooksey said.
Verizon is also urging residents and businesses to familiarize themselves with their county's early warning notification system, which uses a 911 telephone calling program to alert residents about potential threats, such as flash floods and mudslides.
Because the early warning systems use local telephone companies' databases, Verizon landline home and business customers' phone numbers, listed and unlisted, are automatically included in the systems.
This is not the case, however, with wireless phone numbers and voice-over-Internet- protocol (VoIP) phone numbers. Residents who want to receive emergency notifications via these alternative devices and services must register their information by following the instructions on the Web site for the county in which they live:
- Los Angeles County http://portal.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/alertla
- Orange County http://bos.ocgov.com/alertoc/alertoc.asp
- Ventura County http://portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page?_pageid=817,1258021&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
- Riverside County http://www.countyofriverside.us/portal/page/portal/cornew/Emergencies/ews
Verizon offers the following suggestions to help its customers prepare for emergencies:
Have at least one corded phone that doesn't need AC power in your home or business. If commercial power from your electric utility is lost, a phone that plugs directly into a telephone jack can still operate using Verizon's self-powered landline phone network. Every Verizon FiOS installation includes a backup battery unit that powers the in-home system for up to eight hours (depending upon the frequency and duration of use during a commercial power outage).
Have a wireless phone with charged batteries and car-charger adapters available. Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location and program the phone with emergency phone numbers including police, fire, and rescue agencies; insurance providers; and family, friends and co-workers.
Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate. Verizon offers free call forwarding for wired phone customers who have to leave their home under a mandatory emergency evacuation order. Evacuees should call 1-800-483-1000.
During an emergency, limit non-essential calls. To conserve battery power on cell and FiOS phones, and to free-up wireless and wired network circuits for emergency agencies and operations, try to limit your outbound calling. Consider sending brief wireless text messages instead of making voice calls.
Keep a battery-operated radio and a supply of fresh batteries at-hand. That way, you can stay up-to-date on local news, weather and emergency broadcasts.
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 89 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 230,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.