NEW YORK, NY - 2017 was an extremely destructive and costly hurricane season with Harvey and Irma rolling through the southern coastlines and Maria devastating Puerto Rico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts this hurricane season will be active again and could bring 10-16 named storms, as many as nine hurricanes and up to four major ones. While Verizon wireless and wireline engineers prepare our network for extreme weather year-round in all parts of the nation, we are especially attentive to hurricane season, taking extra steps to ensure we’re ready if a major storm hits.
Our engineers have been busy at work preparing our networks to ensure you are able to connect with loved ones and help when you need it most. Here are just a few things we do to get our networks ready to support you:
- We have backup generators, HVAC systems and fiber rings at cell sites and switching centers to keep the network running and customers connected when commercial power is lost.
- We have built our network structures in hurricane-prone areas to withstand category 5 winds.
- We place our cell sites and our switch facility HVAC systems on elevated platforms in flood-prone areas.
- We pre-arrange fuel deliveries in case of a storm, with tankers poised and in position to quickly respond to hard-hit areas in case commercial power is lost.
- We own a fleet of portable emergency equipment that can be deployed quickly to keep customers connected or restore damaged connections as soon as possible.
- We have surveillance drones on standby to help assess and respond to damage after a storm.
- We run Emergency Operation Center drills throughout the year to ensure our team is ready and equipped to respond to emergencies.
- We built a Public Safety Private Core to support public safety, especially during times of high data traffic.
- We bring in extra personnel to help with any downed pole and wire issues that result.
- In areas served by our copper landline network, we order additional nitrogen tanks which power our air pressure systems that keep copper cables dry in wet weather.
- Working closely with logistics to ensure adequate supply of replacement poles and cables.
And when disaster strikes, we coordinate with first responders and can mobilize charging stations, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to support local, state and federal agencies across the US, just like we did last year during Harvey and Irma.
We take our preparation seriously, because we know you and your family depend on our wireline and wireless networks to be there when you need us most.
What you can do to prepare
We encourage you to take these steps to ensure your loved ones are ready to communicate during a storm:
Ensure all battery-powered devices are fully charged before the storm hits. This includes wireless phones and smartphones, laptops, tablets, DVD players, flashlights and radios.
Program your smartphone to receive emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free wireless notifications that are delivered to your mobile device with messages from local/national public safety organizations.
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 Wireless 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.
Download weather applications and alerts that provide users with a variety of information such as radar images, forecasts and severe storm warnings.
Wireless devices can be a key source of information and communication in an event of an emergency, so be sure to 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 know where your chargers are, both wall and vehicle charging cords, and have portable device chargers fully charged and next to your device.
Videotape/take photos of your possessions in your residence before severe weather hits.
If you have an old corded phone, keep it handy. Cordless phones need their own source of electricity, so they won't work in a power outage unless you have a generator.
Landline customers can use the digital self-help tools in the My Fios App to trouble shoot and resolve most basic service issues. They can also use the app to message with customer support if additional help is needed.
We want you to be safe this hurricane season. Being crisis-ready and crisis-proven is central to who we are at Verizon. Reliability is in our DNA and we will continue to work year-round to ensure you can count on us to stay connected.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If a member of the media would like to attend a behind-the-scenes tour at a local network switch location, the “brains” of the network, to see first-hand how our engineers prepare for severe weather, please contact Karen Schulz.