As Hurricane Rita Approaches, Texas Gulf Coast Residents Urged To Make Emergency Communication Plans Now

TEXAS GULF COAST — After an extraordinary hurricane season that has delivered severe damage and disruption to numerous communities across the Gulf Coast this year, residents of the Texas Gulf Coast are urged to prepare an emergency communications plan before Hurricane Rita makes landfall.

Verizon Wireless, which owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network serving 47.4 million customers, offers residents these tips to help them be safer during storms and other times of crisis:

  • Keep wireless phone batteries charged — in case local power is lost — well before warnings are issued.
  • Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
  • Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers — police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. — and program them into your phone.
  • Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
  • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home for an extended period or have to evacuate.

"With several major hurricanes impacting the Gulf Coast this year, we have seen first hand how important wireless service can be before, during and after a storm," said Katherine Greene, president for the Verizon Wireless Houston/Gulf Coast region. "Proactive planning is key to staying safe during an emergency."

Additional tips for Hurricane Rita include:

  • Send brief TXT Messages rather than voice calls, to help keep networks clear.
  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
  • Keep up with weather and news reports using internet-connected wireless phones when power is out.

"Verizon Wireless technicians prepare for emergencies year-round," said Luis M. Cruz, president of the Central Texas region for Verizon Wireless. "Planning for emergencies is an important part of our commitment to build the most reliable wireless network for all of Texas."

About Verizon Wireless' Hurricane Preparation and Response

  • In Texas, Verizon Wireless has invested $660 million in its network in the past two years. Verizon Wireless has invested more than $1 billion in its Houston/Gulf Coast wireless network in the past six years, including more than $180 million on the Houston/Gulf Coast network in 2004 and an estimated $220 million in 2005.
  • The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back-up power at most facilities, as well as generators installed at all switching facilities and many cell site locations. This capability is critical when power goes out and if roads are impassable in the wake of a storm.
  • The company has a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), which are mobile cell sites that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.
  • Verizon Wireless is prepared to quickly set up Wireless Emergency Communication Centers (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.

Video footage with helpful tips for consumers to prepare for hurricanes and other severe weather is available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at  

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at