Verizon reported on Monday (Sept. 12) that it had made significant progress in reducing trouble reports in its wireline network that were up last week due to the impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
Following the unprecedented series of storms over the past two weeks, there was a spike to three times the normal level of trouble reports in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Downed trees, power outages and severe flooding not only caused the increase, but also made for extremely dangerous conditions for repair crews.
Given normal weather patterns, the company would expect trouble reports to return to normal levels in these states in about two weeks.
The impact of the storms began days after 45,000 union-represented wireline employees in the nine states returned to work on the evening of Aug. 22, after going on strike when contracts expired on Aug. 6.
During the two-week strike, Verizon suspended the installation of new FiOS Internet and TV services in the region to focus on managing repairs and maintaining other operations. This resulted in a backlog of more than 100,000 FiOS orders by the time striking employees returned to work. Verizon management employees stepped in to cover the repair workload, and most Verizon wireline customers noticed minimal, if any, impact to their service during the strike. Employees, eager to return to their jobs, began to reduce the FiOS installation backlog during the first week of their return.
After Hurricane Irene made landfall in the Mid-Atlantic on Aug. 27, technicians in the region have been working up to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week, to clear trouble reports caused by electrical outages, wind and water damage to outside network facilities, and flooding. The soaking rains of Tropical Storm Lee exacerbated the situation just as repair volumes due to Hurricane Irene had fallen.
There have been more than 20 inches of rain in some Verizon service areas over the past two weeks, and Verizon technicians have had to repair fallen lines and other storm damage - repairs that often had to be delayed until local power companies restored power. Verizon has incurred other extraordinary maintenance expenses - for example, having to reinforce 31 central offices in Pennsylvania with perimeter sandbags to protect the buildings from flooding.
Verizon Wireless was not impacted by the strike, and its network performed well throughout the storms and their aftermath. Through the use of backup batteries and generators, many cell sites in communities that lost commercial power continued to serve customers.
Verizon provided wireless and wireline support to emergency responders in their recovery efforts. The Verizon Foundation, Verizon's philanthropic arm, also announced direct and employee-matching donations to the American Red Cross, and Verizon Wireless provided customers with a free, convenient way to donate to relief organizations by sending text messages.
(NOTE: To view a video of Verizon helping public officials and community members in New Jersey stay connected in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGjFjKxeFhw.)
Residential customers with landline-based Verizon services should contact Verizon at 1-800-VERIZON (1-800-837-4966) or online at www.verizon.com/support to report any service-related issue. Business customers should contact their regular customer service centers or account teams, as needed. Verizon Wireless customers can call *611 form their wireless device or 1-800-922-0204 to report any service-related issue.