Delivering hope, giving thanks.

By: Andy Choi

We share our gratitude as the V Team continues to step up for our customers and first responders.

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On today’s special Tuesday edition of Up To Speed Live, host Andy Choi and a number of guests — including CEO Hans Vestberg — shared updates on the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Ida across Louisiana as well as the wildfire situation in California.

Donation to Ida recovery

Up To Speed’s Diana Alvear shared the breaking news that Verizon will donate $100,000 to the Foundation of Louisiana. Verizon’s donation will support the Hurricane Ida Relief Fund for Evacuation and Recovery to help Louisiana communities that were impacted by this week’s storm. We hope this will give some comfort to the people there trying to recover.

Network update

Diana mentioned how heartening it is to see how our teams are responding as they deploy to affected areas bringing in temporary assets like back-up generators, cell sites, fuel, drones and satellites. As an example, we were able to bring up one cell site in Morgan City, LA, using satellite links to connect it, and we deployed two mobile sites in support of government and fire department staging areas.

Flooding is an issue in many areas as well, so some teams are using ‘High Boy’ trailers and airboats to assist in the recovery effort.

We thank everyone on the ground and online for assisting in this huge effort.

Retail stepping up to the challenge

Andy caught up with Doug Gillio, District Manager, based out of Metairie, LA, to get his perspective on the storm. Doug, who had stayed behind while his family evacuated, described how he heard the winds pick up as the storm track turned closer to his home. Alone at night, he could hear a transformer in the neighborhood breaking. Though he did lose power, Doug and his home came through safely.

Doug has been able to stay in constant contact with his team, many of whom evacuated, but some remained behind to help relatives. “We see all kinds of customers coming in to the store and thanking us for keeping them connected,” said Doug. “It’s a sigh of relief when you’re able to open the doors and see those customers. They’ll remind you of how the Verizon network stayed up and working during Katrina 16 years ago. It’s heartwarming.”

Thanks to Doug and our entire retail team for all of your efforts during this crisis.

One example of kindness

The V Team has been stepping up in all kinds of ways, large and small. One example comes to us from Joseph “Jos” Bowmaster, Manager - Account Services, who noticed a paramedic on the side of the road in Covington, LA, needing some gas. This was an off-duty paramedic who was trying to get home after a long overnight shift. Pumps in the area were closed so Jos, who happened to be delivering phones to first responders, stopped and gave the paramedic his spare gas. Jos also happened to learn that this paramedic, who spent hours in the hospital helping folks during Ida, was a Verizon customer. Thank you Jos for helping in ways that truly matter.

It’s a great reminder for all of us to think about ways we can help. As we talked about yesterday, our VtoV Employee Relief Fund is an incredible way for all of us to give back to our colleagues who need our help. We hope you all of our V Teamers take a moment and make a donation. For those of you who have already given to VtoV, thank you so much.

Calling, text and data relief

A reminder that Verizon is offering unlimited calling, text and data to our customers in the hardest hit areas in Ida’s path. To see if you are eligible, head to our emergency resource center. We will be updating the site regularly.

California wildfires

Our Communications colleague Heidi Flato said emergency services teams have responded to over 100 wildfires this season, including the Caldor Fire which is currently impacting the Lake Tahoe area in California, forcing thousands to evacuate. Despite the challenges, our teams have done an amazing job as we continue to see great performance from our network.

A special guest

Hans stopped by to share his thoughts on both weather-related crises. He remarked on the large number of people struggling due to these events, whether it’s losing power or being forced from their homes, and how important it is that they are able to stay connected to loved ones. He personally thanked all of those keeping our networks and stores up and running in both areas.

“To all those on the ground, whether it’s in California or dealing with the hurricane, thank you for being there, for taking care of our customers, for keeping first responders connected, and for helping our fellow V Teamers via our VtoV fund. It’s times like these we understand the importance of our infrastructure.”

Share your story

Andy shared a dramatic image of a rainbow framing one our Verizon Response vehicles in Louisiana, a sign of light and hope amidst the wreckage. Please share photos and updates and let us know how you’re doing, how we’re doing and how we can help by sending them to live@verizon.com.

Click here for a transcript of the webcast.

Get the latest information on our Coronavirus Resource Page (Inside Verizon, The Street).

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