PANAMA CITY, FL – Verizon engineers and fiber crews have been working around the clock after unprecedented damage to our fiber infrastructure caused by the most intense storm in history to make landfall in the Panhandle. Services for our customers and first responders are back up and running today, providing wireless coverage essentially everywhere it was before Hurricane Michael hit.
“Verizon is back up and running in the Panhandle,” said Tami Erwin, Verizon Wireless executive vice president of wireless operations.
Avoid Fiber Cuts Critical to Maintaining Service
Your mobile connection requires fiber optic cables to carry the connection between a cell site and communication centers in our network that provide connectivity to other parts of the Florida panhandle and beyond. Fiber, damaged in multiple locations from the impact of Hurricane Michael, then from early debris removal and other restoral activities, is stabilizing in the area, but any new fiber cuts risk localized area outages.
Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s chief network engineering officer and head of wireless networks, asked residents and rebuilders to help in the recovery effort by steering clear from fiber optic cables. “Simply stated: please don’t cut any cables you may see. Those cables may be live utility or telecommunications fiber cables. We are coordinating with power companies, state and local response teams, and local authorities with the goal of significantly reducing fiber cuts. That reduction will speed our ability to stabilize the wireless services already restored, and accelerate progress across the Panhandle,” she said.
If you are working near fiber or utility cables, please call 1-877-652-2321 to coordinate on-site activities and ensure communications are available for first responders to continue to conduct their mission critical work of search, rescue and recovery, and those impacted by the storm can connect with loved ones and the communications resources they need. When in doubt, assume the cables are carrying live traffic. If you are clearing debris or working on storm restoration efforts that require digging, please call 811 before you dig to avoid severing critical cabling.
We aren’t going anywhere
While wireless services are restored, there is still much work to do. Recovery teams remain throughout Panama City in remote command centers and we will continue providing portable cell sites for additional coverage and capacity as they continue their important work. Our portable cell sites will remain in place for local shelters, Tyndall AFB, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Bay County Jail, FEMA, Bay County EOC, Panama City Veterans Affairs, Camp Marianna Airport, City of Parker PD, Jackson County EOC, and Callaway Fire Department.
We will also leave in place as long as they are needed our Command Trailer with the Bay County EOC, Gooseneck trailers with the Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, Tactical Command Trailer with the Panama City Police Department, Mobile Command Center at Tyndall AFB, Comfort/Relief Trailers at Harmon Base Camp for the National Guard, and Gooseneck and Accommodation Trailers for the Parker Park Fire Department.
We will also continue our work to support the community and residents impacted by the storm. For residents and visitors in the area needing support, we will continue having charging stations and water available at our store at 411A East 23rd Street, charging stations at shelters throughout the area, and our Wireless Emergency Communication Centers at Walmart North Tyndall Parkway, Marianna Walmart and Mexico Beach Baptist Church.
“We are committed to our Florida communities and we’re in it for the long haul with you,” said Krista Bourne, Market President of Verizon. “We know our neighbors in Florida have a long road ahead and we will be here every step of the way.”