Verizon stands ready as Hurricane Ida threatens the storm-battered Gulf

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Tropical Storm

Network operations include preparing for potential commercial power outages and flooding.

The Verizon Response Team (VRT) stands at the ready 24/7 to deliver Verizon Frontline technologies to support first responders.

NEW YORK, N.Y. –  As Hurricane Ida makes its way to the Gulf, Verizon teams in the storm-weary markets prepare to once again provide critical communications before, during and after the storm. The likelihood of potential flooding is high and accompanying commercial outages are expected. Verizon engineers are topping off generators and pre-staging trucks with fuel, readying mobile network assets for rapid deployment, preparing satellite and microwave equipment as redundancy connections if fiber is impacted, and activating response teams to keep customers and first-responders connected. Despite numerous mobile assets being deployed in support of wild fire efforts in the west, flooding in Tennessee, assisting in processing Afghan refugees, and ongoing support for the pandemic response, Verizon has pre-staged numerous emergency assets outside of the storm’s projected path.

“We are actively preparing for Ida and our Verizon team is ready to support the community as yet another major storm impacts this area,” said Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer at Verizon. “We know our customers count on us, especially during tough times, and we will be there with them every step of the way to provide reliable connections to critical resources, colleagues, friends and family.”

Verizon is ready

Verizon has prepared to ensure the network is ready for Tropical Storm Idai:

  • Support for first-responders: More public-safety professionals rely on Verizon than any other network. Verizon Frontline is the advanced network and technology built for first-responders – developed over nearly three decades of partnership with public safety officials and agencies – to meet their unique needs. When seconds matter, Verizon Frontline provides network priority and preemption and a commitment to real interoperability, giving first-responders access to the network when they need it. The Verizon Response Team is also available 24/7 to deliver Verizon Frontline technologies including on-demand, emergency assistance for first-responders. We mobilize Verizon Frontline drones, charging stations, WiFi hotspots, devices, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to help enable mission-critical communications for local, state and federal agencies across the country. First-responder customers with wireless priority service should dial *272 or download the Priority Telecommunications Services app when placing calls.

  • COVID-19 considerations: With the ongoing pandemic, we have worked to ensure we have the necessary personal equipment and processes for our field teams who may have to enter highly populated areas like shelters or operations centers. We have virtualized many command-center functions to make it easier for our engineers working on network repairs and deploying mobile assets to remain socially distanced. We have also arranged for individual portable housing units for mission critical network engineers in the field.

  • Redundancy Equals Reliability/Backups to the Backups: We use different strategies — including backup generators and HVAC systems and redundant fiber rings for cell sites and switching centers — to keep the network running and customers connected when commercial power is lost or water damage occurs.

  • Refueling strategy: We pre-arrange fuel deliveries for our generators in case of a storm, with tankers poised and in position to quickly respond to hard-hit areas in the event commercial power is lost.

  • Year-round preparation: We run Emergency Operation Center drills throughout the year to ensure our team is ready and equipped to respond to emergencies.

  • Support for the community: Our mobile Wireless Emergency Communications Centers, Tactical Command Trailers, and Response Trailers are ready to deploy to support first-responders and community members with recovery efforts.

  • Drones at the ready: We have surveillance drones on standby to help assess and respond to damage from a storm.

  • Satellite assets: We have a fleet of new satellite-equipped portable cell sites and dedicated satellite links for connection. If sustained winds, storm surges or manual fiber cuts damage fiber or microwave during post-storm recovery, the network can continue to run without commercial power, thanks to satellite-enabled portable equipment, dedicated satellite links and our fleet of portable generators.

  • Comprehensive fleet management: In the days leading up to and during a storm, it’s critical for mobile businesses to know where to allocate people, assets and vehicles. The Verizon Connect fleet management platform provides greater visibility and situational awareness to help move people and assets out of harm’s way and plan a more coordinated return to business once the storm clears.

How you can prepare: Do you have a personal communications plan?

Especially in the context of natural disasters, having reliable connectivity and a personal communications plan are essential. We encourage you to take these steps to ensure you and your loved ones can communicate during a storm.

Device preparation:

  • Ensure all battery-powered devices are fully charged before the storm hits. These include wireless home phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, flashlights and radios.

  • Wireless devices can provide crucial information and communication in an emergency. Keep phones, tablets, laptops, batteries, chargers and other equipment in dry, accessible locations like re-sealable plastic bags, dry bags or waterproof cases.

  • In case of evacuation, make sure you can find your chargers (including wall and vehicle charging cords) and have portable device chargers fully charged and next to your device.

Know and back up your info:

  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses, including police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; and family, friends and co-workers. Program them into your phone, smartphone, tablet or laptop and also have a hard copy handy, someplace easily accessible.

  • Backup your information on Verizon Cloud. Verizon offers backup assistance through the Verizon Cloud to store your phone’s address book and contact information as well as pictures and other content on a secure server. Record video and take photos of your home possessions before severe weather hits.

Earmark resources:

  • Download weather applications and alerts that provide storm-related radar images, forecasts and severe storm warnings.

  • Program your smartphone to receive emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free wireless notifications delivered to mobile devices by local/national public safety organizations.

  • To prepare for potential evacuation, earmark your emergency resources on your phone so you can research any special restrictions, limitations or instructions if you need emergency shelter, medical care or other support that may be impacted by COVID-19.

How businesses and government organizations can prepare and stay connected

Businesses and governments know the importance of hurricane preparedness. This year, with so much of the workforce working remotely, contingency planning is even more critical. We offer customers products and services that can help disaster-proof communications and enable business continuity.

It’s also a good time to review readiness plans. Suggested steps for businesses and government organizations include:

  • Make sure you have contact information updated and readily available for all employees.

  • Make copies of insurance documents, review insurance coverages and update as appropriate.

  • Ensure employees working from home have documented all corporate equipment being used to work from home in case of damage or loss.

  • Ensure you have a backup plan to shift work in case work-from-home employees in a storm-impacted area have to evacuate their home or their home loses commercial power.

This storm season is predicted to be an active one, and Verizon is crisis-ready and crisis-proven.

**Editor’s Note: To access images and b-roll of past storms, Verizon equipment, recovery efforts and more, please visit Verizon’s Emergency Resource Hub at https://www.verizon.com/about/news/emergency-resource-center

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