NEW YORK - As Verizon engineers redesigned the company's network of wires and cables serving lower Manhattan and workers spliced tens of thousands of wires together to reconnect homes and businesses to America, Verizon employees are walking the streets, visiting housing projects, apartments and businesses to deliver updates on the restoration of phone service.
"We're in the community now, with information about what we're doing and how people can keep in touch while we get service back to normal," said Paul Crotty, president of Verizon New York. "Our goal is to get people connected quickly, but until that job is done, we're trying to connect with our customers to provide information that can help them in the interim."
Cables serving much of lower Manhattan were severely damaged during the World Trade Center disaster. Steel girders and other falling debris crushed or severed a large number of distribution cables in Verizon's switching center at 140 West St.. Water from broken water mains and fire hoses also flooded the building's five-story sub-basement, disabling the power supply.
Verizon's Community Affairs employees have held meetings with residents of at least a dozen public housing units to provide information about the restoration program. Verizon representatives are available to speak with community groups, seniors and tenant organizations. A special office to help residential customers has been established at 62 Mott St. at the Chinese American Benevolent Association hall.
A team of 32 Verizon employees from the company's Business Solutions Group is expected to visit nearly 900 small businesses each day, distributing flyers that offer referrals, tips and service updates. Verizon's emergency office in New York's Business Recovery Center at 110 Maiden Lane has been open for more than a week, taking in repair and service orders from more than 400 walk-in business owners each day. The center continues to support business owners so they can stay open and available, despite the loss of phone services or lack of access to stores and businesses.
Customers also can call special toll-free numbers to hear recorded reports in English (800-322-3480), Spanish (800-322-3551), Chinese (800-322-3884 ) and for TTY users (800-299-2610) on the progress of the telecommunications restoration effort.
Verizon also is providing information in ads in New York newspapers. The ads offer tips and phone numbers important to customers. A single toll-free number, 800-795-8742, can be used by both residential and business customers to report a service problem or request new service. Representatives are on duty to take calls from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A Crisis Communications Center on the Verizon Web site, www.verizon.com, is set up to help different type customers access information they need.
As noted in the ad, businesses that advertise in Verizon's online directory, SuperPages.com, can update their listings, for example, to publish temporary phone numbers or addresses. Also, customers who were using Verizon's voice messaging services before Sept. 11 can call 1-800-435-7986 to get a new access number and pass code. They can still retrieve messages left on or before Sept. 11.
Verizon's e-business team also has sent e-mail messages with service information to nearly 80,000 residential and business customers.
The Verizon Web site includes pages that offer suggestions on how residents and small businesses can continue to operate using various Verizon services.
More than 200 wireless payphones on trailers and trucks continue to serve the area, offering free three-minute calls to anywhere in the continental U.S. Verizon's curbside payphones below Canal Street still allow free calling citywide. About a million calls have been placed from these phones since the crisis began.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.