NEW YORK - Verizon and its employees are stepping up their efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters in the nation's history. The company announced today that it is sending 100 technicians and up to 10 supervisors to help BellSouth restore landline telecommunications in New Orleans, one of the hardest hit areas along the Gulf Coast.
Verizon technicians and supervisors are expected to begin working in the New Orleans area on Saturday, Sept. 17, and will be available for four weeks. Additional Verizon personnel will be deployed to the Gulf Coast as needed under a mutual aid agreement among the nation's leading telecommunications companies.
"Rapid restoration of telecommunications is critically important to getting the city of New Orleans back on its feet, and Verizon employees have a proud history of responding to national emergencies, as we did in the 9/11 disaster," said Joe Tumolo, director of emergency planning for Verizon's Network Services Group.
"Our company is committed to do whatever it takes to help the people of New Orleans, and we're grateful to our employees for their overwhelming response to assist victims of this terrible disaster."
Verizon Wireless, the company's wireless joint venture, working around-the-clock since the storm began, already has restored service to more than 95 percent of its geographic coverage in the areas affected by the hurricane. The company also has provided more than 10,000 wireless devices, including wireless phones and data air cards, as well as free wireless service, to key organizations involved in disaster relief and recovery efforts.
Verizon and its employees have already made significant contributions to aid the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including:
- More than 10,000 Verizon employee volunteers answering calls at the Sept. 9 national telethon, which raised more than $30 million.
- Employee and Verizon Foundation contributions of more than $8 million to date through the foundation's special relief fund to aid Katrina victims.
- Provision of Verizon Wireless cell phones and 20,000 prepaid calling cards for use by hurricane victims and enabling Verizon Wireless customers to use text messaging to make donations to the American Red Cross.
- Deployment of pay phone trailers and phone banks for use by evacuees across 4 states in Katrina's aftermath.
- Creation of a matching gift program for customers who support the Verizon Reads campaign by donating books to Hurricane Katrina victims.
- Deployment of cell phone equipment on wheels (COWS) in Mississippi to boost cellular phone signals in areas near Kessler Air Force Base near Biloxi, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relief distribution center in Gulfport and in the Ocean Springs area.
- Donation of 20 laptop computers to the Red Cross in Fort Worth, Texas, and 45 laptops to the Red Cross of Dallas to aid hurricane victim relief.
With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.