NEW YORK– Following the devastation Hurricanes Irma and Maria wrought on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in September, Verizon announced an initial pledge of $1 million to help with recovery efforts. Shortly following Hurricane Maria, and learning of the magnitude of the damage left by the storm, Verizon pledged an additional $4 million and a commitment to identify organizations that could provide significant long-term recovery assistance to the islands.
“We dove into the rebuilding effort in a concrete way,” said Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. “While Verizon doesn’t operate a wireless network in Puerto Rico nor in the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are deeply connected to the communities there, through our customers and our employees. In fact, Verizon employees with family and friends in Puerto Rico provided input about the organizations that are positioned to help with the necessary long-term rebuilding that needs to take place.”
Today, Verizon announced the four organizations that will receive grants as part of its $5 million pledge to fund Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The recipients are:
- World Vision, whose focus is on providing life-saving essentials and long-term support will receive $1 million to help families on the islands.
- Friends of Puerto Rico, identified by Verizon employees for its mission to build the future of Puerto Rico and its commitment to invest 100% of the funds in the islands, will receive $1 million.
- The Salvation Army, with a long-term presence in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Salvation Army was positioned to serve the residents immediate needs of clothing, food, cleanup kits and emotional assistance and will receive $1 million to help fund those efforts.
- American Red Cross, was identified following the storms for their ability to provide relief supplies, satellite phones and emergency shelters to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island residents, immediately following the storms and will receive $2 million for those specific needs.
Each grant will be directed entirely to the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Hurricane relief efforts and meets the Verizon Foundation’s grant requirements of being a recognizable charitable 501 ( c )(3).
“Recovery is far from over, and it’s heartbreaking to witness the disasters that have affected so many over the past two months. I’m proud of how our customers, V Team employees and the Verizon Foundation responded to the call for help,” said McAdam.
In addition to the $5 million going to the four organizations, Verizon is also supporting relief efforts in other ways, including:
- Verizon customers generously donated $1.8 million through a Verizon text-to-donate program from the Mobile Giving Foundation. .
- Verizon employees donated to select hurricane relief-focused organizations that were matched by the Verizon Foundation, dollar-for-dollar, for a combined total of nearly $1 million.
- Verizon engineers have been on the ground for weeks assisting our roaming partners on the islands, resolving roaming service issues, offering support to carriers and coordinating with federal agencies when requested.
- An efemto cell (miniature cell site) was shipped and set up in an emergency response team command center in San Juan to provide communications for officials helping coordinate recovery efforts, along with shared devices with leaders who were coordinating the recovery.
- A shipping container is expected to leave the port of Jacksonville, Florida in the coming days, and will include:
- Portable equipment, including several generators to supply our roaming partners, Claro and Open Mobile, with backup power for their cell sites.
- Another generator is designated for the University of Puerto Rico.
- Network equipment such as wireless antennas, and two mobile cell sites –a Cell on Wheels (COW) and a Cell on Light Truck, (CoLT) to assist agencies with the recovery efforts.
- 44 laptops to help local regulators with their initiative known as “Stop and Go” bringing Internet access to residents allowing them to apply for aid and communicate with friends and loved ones. Doubling the number of Internet access locations currently available to residents.
Verizon will continue to assist our roaming partners, and the residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the coming months as rebuilding continues.