Verizon Keeps Southern California Wildfire Evacuees Connected with Free Telecom Services

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Verizon customers displaced by California's wildfires can add services such as call forwarding and voice mail at no charge as part of the company's efforts to help those in need cope with the disaster.

"Staying in touch with family and friends is more important than ever during times of crisis, and these free services will help our customers do that," said Verizon Pacific Region President Tim McCallion.

Verizon customers who have lost their home or business in a fire, or have been forced to evacuate, 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 can also choose to set up a voice-mail box that they can access remotely from any telephone. Customers will not be billed the one-time set-up fees or monthly charges for call-forwarding or voice-mail services for an entire year, although customers will be responsible for any toll charges on forwarded calls.

Customers who are displaced or evacuated can also choose to have their existing local phone service moved to another location without paying the normal one-time charge to do so.

[Residential customers who have been affected by the fires and want to obtain the free services should call Verizon on 800-483-4000. Business customers should call 800-483-5000.]

In addition to the free services, Verizon has taken other steps to meet the needs of wildfire evacuees. Verizon Foundation yesterday made a $25,000 grant to the Inland Empire chapter of the American Red Cross in San Bernardino, which is caring for thousands of people displaced by fires. Verizon has also set up banks of phones at Red Cross evacuation sites, which allow evacuees to place toll-free calls to relatives and friends anywhere in the United States, and the company gave prepaid calling cards to the Red Cross, which will distribute them to evacuees as well as firefighters who are battling the blazes.

Despite the widespread fires, Verizon's Southern California network remained largely unaffected Tuesday. Approximately 9,000 phone lines were reported out of service. Some outages were the result of direct fire damage to Verizon lines and equipment, and others were attributed to drained backup batteries in electronic equipment in areas that had lost electrical power. Verizon technicians are stockpiling materials and preparing to enter the affected areas to restore service as soon as fire department officials declare it safe to do so.

The company's overall network continued to operate normally throughout the rest of the state as some switching systems and other electronic equipment switched to emergency backup power when commercial power was lost.

Verizon Communications

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues and 221,000 employees. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.