With Tropical Storm Alberto Impacting Georgia, Residents Urged to Make Emergency Communications Plans

ALPHARETTA GA — With the first named tropical storm of the 2006 season bearing down on the Georgia coast today, Georgia residents are urged to include emergency communication plans in preparation for severe weather. Alberto is expected to dump heavy rain in Georgia, possibly through Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Verizon Wireless, owner and operator of the nation's most reliable wireless network, offers residents these tips to help them be safer during storms:

  • Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged — in case local power is lost — well before warnings are issued and have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.

  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers programmed into your phone.

  • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.

  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations. Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same reason.

  • Check weather and news reports available on many internet-connected and other wireless phone applications when power is out.

"Unfortunately, we saw last year just how important wireless communication can be before, during and after a severe storm, and Verizon Wireless worked tirelessly to make sure critical communication was quickly restored," said Jim McGean, President of Verizon Wireless-Georgia/Alabama region. "We are battle-tested and well-prepared to provide Georgia residents and rescue agencies strong, reliable wireless service."

In the aftermaths of hurricanes that swept through Florida and Louisiana last year, the Verizon Wireless network significantly outperformed the competition. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina last year, Verizon Wireless drive tests found the company's network averaged an impressive 90% call completion rate in impacted areas after the storm, compared to rates of 79% and lower among competitors. As a result, thousands of hurricane victims and emergency workers turned to Verizon Wireless, which set up its Wireless Emergency Calling Centers to enable calling for communities devastated by the storm and to distribute wireless phones that worked to disaster relief agencies and other community groups. The Verizon Wireless commitment paid off in hurricane seasons the past two years.

Verizon Wireless preparation for the 2006 hurricane season includes:

  • Verizon Wireless has invested more than $63-million to date in 2006 in the Georgia and Alabama network.

  • The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back-up power at all facilities, as well as generators installed at all switching facilities and at more than 70% of our cell site locations in Georgia.

  • The company has in Georgia a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWs), which are self-powered transmitters that can be quickly deployed into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. Network teams also have hundreds of generators ready to go to further strengthen the network.

  • Verizon Wireless is fully prepared to again quickly set up Wireless Emergency Communication Centers (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.

  • The company has developed and practiced a comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers in the case of a storm or crisis.

"Staying in touch is essential in times of crisis, and we take our public safety role very seriously," said McGean. "We are proud to work with residents, and local and state officials to help keep lines of communication open."

(Editor's Note: Video footage with helpful tips for consumers to prepare for hurricanes and other severe weather is available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man or to visit one of the company's Emergency Command Centers in preparation of a storm, contact Caran Smith at 678-339-4891).

About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 53 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. 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 www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.