Emergency Communications Support Offered To Tornado Victims, Central Floridians

LADY LAKE, FL — To help Central Florida tornado and storm victims reach family, friends, insurance companies and other important contacts, Verizon Wireless has set up a Wireless Emergency Communication Center (WECC) at the new shopping plaza at 870 North U.S. Highway 27 in Lady Lake.

With power outages and other communication networks hit hard in much of the area, the WECC will have wireless phones and computers available, allowing storm victims to make free calls and send emails over the Verizon Wireless digital network, which continues to operate in the region and across the state.

The WECC and Verizon Wireless stores in surrounding areas also will have special teams of technicians available to check, clean and charge phones that have been storm-damaged or have lost power. Central Floridians with phones from any wireless carrier will be helped.

In addition to serving residents, Verizon Wireless has prepared hundreds of wireless phones to deploy if needed to emergency workers and agencies in the area.

The company also has deployed teams of technicians, mobile power generators and powerful mobile transmission sites called COWs (Cells on Wheels) into the hard-hit areas to handle any possible spike in wireless traffic.

"Wireless communication is critical for public safety, and we take our role very seriously," said Pamela Tope, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. "So much of our work and investment is to make sure our network and services are there for citizens when they are most in need."

The Lady Lake WECC will be open and assisting those in need from 7:30am to dusk. For more information, call 352-350-2861.

About Verizon Wireless Emergency Preparation

  • The company has spent more than $1 billion in the past six years in Florida to upgrade its digital network.

  • In 2006, a $40-million, 36,000-square-foot network switching facility, designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes, was opened in Orlando to better handle calls across Central Florida and to serve as an emergency operations center in the case of storms

  • Nearly 80 percent of the individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless have their own on-site generators. 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 dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. Network teams also have nearly 200 portable generators ready to go to further strengthen the network.

About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving more than 59 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 60,000 employees nationwide. The company 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.