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Press Release -- August 31st, 2020
Source: Verizon
Tags:

Verizon Response: Update following Hurricane Laura’s Landfall

Media contact(s)
Karen Schulz
864.987.2006
Karen.Schulz@VerizonWireless.com
Kate Jay
678.339.4828
kate.jay@verizon.com

For media: we have b-roll, images and additional information on our emergency response equipment available at our Emergency Resource Center - verizon.com/emergency

What you need to know:

  • The Verizon engineering team and vendors continue to make strong progress in restoration efforts. The areas of greatest challenge remain in Lake Charles, Sulphur, Shreveport, and the coastal markets.
  • For our consumer and small business customers in Louisiana and Texas most impacted by Hurricane Laura, Verizon is extending unlimited calling, texting and data through Tuesday, September 8.
  • Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.
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August 31 Update


Network status:

The Verizon engineering team and vendors continue to make strong progress in restoration efforts. The areas of greatest challenge remain in Lake Charles, Sulphur, Shreveport, and the coastal markets.

Using satellite and microwave technology as a temporary alternative to fiber carrying data throughout the network to cell sites, the Verizon Network team was able to get 27 cell sites back in service since yesterday morning, including 11 sites in Lake Charles, five in Leesville, and 11 others spread throughout the impacted areas, including Iowa, Alexandria, West Lake and more. Multiple microwave connections are already on air with more scheduled for deployment today to impacted cell sites.

In parallel, work continues to restore fiber connections to the remaining sites out of service.

With roads to some coastal communities still highly inaccessible, the Verizon team completed an initial survey of network equipment by helicopter. Subsequently, we were able to transport a satellite-linked mobile cell tower down to the coast, using heavy-debris moving vehicles to clear the way to areas that were previously inaccessible by vehicle. That mobile cell site is active and providing limited service to some coastal communities.

We continue a massive refueling operation to keep our generators running until commercial power is restored to run our cell sites and network facilities for our customers. We are also using our generators to help power some fiber companies in the area. Our engineers are confident we have the fuel and crews we need to keep that operation running 24x7 until commercial power is restored to the area.

Engineers supporting Operation BBQ Relief, which began this weekend in Lake Charles, have deployed an aerial cell site via a drone to provide additional coverage to community members gathered there. This “flying cell site” is tethered 100 feet above a Verizon vehicle and provides voice calling and texting. Weather permitting, the drone will remain in service today.

Unlimited calling, texting and data expanded:

For our consumer and small business customers in Louisiana and Texas most impacted by Hurricane Laura, Verizon is extending unlimited calling, texting and data through Tuesday, September 8. Those parishes and counties include:

Louisiana: Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Caldwell, Cameron, DeSoto, Evangeline, Grant, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, Union, Vermilion, Vernon, Winn

Texas: Orange

Customers can verify eligibility for call/text/data relief here:

Postpaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/

Prepaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/?type=prepaid

Text-to-donate:

Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.

Retail store operations

All Verizon retail stores in storm-impacted areas are open for business. You can find the nearest store by visiting: https://www.verizonwireless.com/stores/. All residents regardless of carrier are invited to come in to charge their devices at these locations.

August 30 Update


Network status:

We continue to work around the clock on network restoration efforts and have seen some positive movement, although power outages and fiber connections needed for cell sites and some mobile assets to work still pose a significant challenge.

Alternatives to fiber:

To date, our engineers have deployed nine satellite links to cell sites in the most impacted areas as a substitute for fiber connections to restore service at those sites. More satellite assets are in the process of being deployed today. In fact, we have deployed more satellite links in this emergency than ever before in the history of our company.

We are also working towards deploying microwave connections at impacted cell sites. Microwave is a second alternative to fiber for carrying data throughout the network A significant amount of microwave assets are moving into the market and designs are being built to restore connections to cell sites until fiber can be restored.

Alternatives to commercial power:

We continue a massive refueling operation to keep our generators running as we await the return of commercial power to our cell sites and network facilities. We are also using our generators to help power some fiber companies in the area. Our engineers are confident we have the fuel and crews we need to keep that operation running 24x7 until commercial power is restored to the area.

Support for first responders:

We continue to deploy mobile satellite-linked cell sites in support of first responders and are providing service to numerous police departments, fire departments and Emergency Operation Centers. To date we have mobilized satellite-linked cell sites to

  • Jefferson Parish PD
  • Lake Charles PD
  • the LA Fire Marshal's office
  • Sulphur City Hall to support the Sulphur PD and FD
  • Calcasieu Emergency Management
  • the LA State National Guard

The National Guard will arrive today in Lake Charles and we have coverage ready for them at their main staging area.

We have completed site surveys for all sites we can access. The areas of Lake Charles, LA, Vernon Parish, Manny, TX and the coastal markets (which are not yet accessible) remain the most challenging areas from a service perspective.

In accordance with recommended social distancing policies, Verizon has activated virtual command centers in Louisiana and Texas and our employees are using additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they engage in recovery efforts. We have deployed accommodation and comfort trailers with showers and beds for our field teams working on the restoration.

Community support:

We are deploying several portable network assets to support the efforts of Operation BBQ Relief which began this weekend in Lake Charles. Those include a Gooseneck trailer with inflatable shelter that will provide WiFi communications using the Verizon Satellite Network.

Additional assets will be deployed today, including a FEMA Type One command trailer which is a mobile office on wheels with 11 workstations and a large conference room for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. A Wireless Emergency Communications Center (WECC) is also being deployed to support the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians in Trout, LA.

Text-to-donate:

Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.

August 29 Update


Network status:

While there is still a lot of recovery work to do in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, Verizon engineering crews and vendor partners have made good progress working throughout the night on restoration efforts in Louisiana and East Texas. They’ve been able to bring many cell sites back on air, deploy multiple mobile assets for temporary relief, and engage in massive refueling operations to keep generators running in the wake of commercial power outages.

Lake Charles and Sulphur areas:

Specifically in the Lake Charles and Sulphur areas, in addition to restoring some macro cell sites, crews have deployed 21 portable generators and provided seven satellite-connected cell sites to support first responders and public safety. There are significant impacts to fiber connections in the area (fiber transports data from our cell sites to network switch and core locations), so teams set up four satellite backhaul trailers to provide temporary connection to macro towers until fiber is restored. Engineers have also added significant capacity on cell sites that are back in service to handle a portion of the data and voice traffic from sites not yet restored.

Vernon area:

One satellite backhaul trailer has been deployed in Vernon to bring up service in that area.

Today’s focus:

Today crews are using multiple means of transportation - including air boats and planes - to complete site survey work in inaccessible areas. They will continue to deploy mobile assets as needed, work with our fiber vendors to repair broken fiber, and resume massive refueling operations to keep generators running until commercial power is restored.

In accordance with recommended social distancing policies, Verizon has activated virtual command centers in Louisiana and Texas and our employees are using additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they engage in recovery efforts.

Additionally, our Verizon Response team is deployed in the impacted areas and working 24/7 to coordinate with first responders. We are in contact with federal, state and local emergency management teams and are coordinating communication needs and efforts with them. First responder customers with wireless priority service should utilize *272 when placing calls.

Community support:

We are deploying several portable network assets to support the efforts of Operation BBQ Relief beginning this weekend in Lake Charles. Those include a Gooseneck trailer with inflatable shelter that will provide WiFi communications using the Verizon Satellite Network.

Text-to-donate:

Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.

Retail store operations

All Verizon retail stores in storm-impacted areas are open with the exception of our store in Lake Charles. You can find the nearest store by visiting: https://www.verizonwireless.com/stores/.

August 28 Update


Network status:

Our teams are working around the clock in continuing recovery efforts following Hurricane Laura's landfall to provide service for customers and first responders in Louisiana and Eastern Texas.

Verizon engineers worked throughout the night to deploy mobile network assets to support first responders. This was while work began to restore service to the hardest hit areas in Sulphur and Lake Charles. There are significant impacts to fiber connections in the area (fiber transports data from our cell sites to network switch and core locations), so our engineers mobilized satellite links on trailers to provide temporary connection to cell sites affected in downtown Lake Charles. While widespread commercial power outages continue, our engineers have deployed numerous portable generators to restore power to cell sites. They also deployed two mobile satellite-connected cell sites to support police and fire department operations.

As roads are cleared and it is safe to move around, teams today are continuing site assessments and restoration, including repairing broken or displaced antennas, mobilizing additional portable generators and temporary cell sites, coordinating with power and fiber restoral teams, and responding to the needs of first responders.

In accordance with recommended social distancing policies, we have activated our virtual command centers in Louisiana and Texas (in accordance with recommended social distancing policies) and our employees are using additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as they engage in recovery efforts.

Community support:

Yesterday the Verizon Foundation announced a $1 million donation to support immediate relief efforts across communities in Louisiana and Texas impacted by Hurricane Laura. The funds will be donated to the American Red Cross and the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, with each charity receiving $500,000 to aid in their emergency response and recovery.

We are deploying several portable network assets to support the efforts of Operation BBQ Relief beginning this weekend in Lake Charles. Those include a Gooseneck trailer with inflatable shelter that will provide WiFi communications using the Verizon Satellite Network.

Additionally, our Verizon Response team is deployed in the impacted areas and working 24/7 to coordinate with first responders. We are in contact with federal, state and local emergency management teams and are coordinating communication needs and efforts with them. First responder customers with wireless priority service should utilize *272 when placing calls.

Unlimited calling, texting and data expanded:

For our consumer and small business customers in eight additional parishes in Louisiana most impacted by Hurricane Laura, beginning Friday, August 28, through September 1, Verizon is providing unlimited calling, texting and data:

Louisiana: Caldwell, Grant, Jackson, La Salle, Lincoln, Ouachita, Union, Winn

Customers can verify eligibility for call/text/data relief here:

Postpaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/

Prepaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/?type=prepaid

Text-to-donate:

Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.

Retail store closures:

Verizon retail stores may be closed or have reduced hours due to the storm. You can find the nearest one that’s open by visiting: https://www.verizonwireless.com/stores/.

August 27


BATON ROUGE, LA As Hurricane Laura continues inland, it has left commercial power outages and significant structural damage throughout the area in its wake. Despite all of this, Verizon’s network remains resilient. While we are seeing some sites out of service in the heaviest hit areas – primarily in and around Lake Charles - our network has backup generators and batteries running to keep our cell sites in service throughout the area to allow our customers to remain connected as clean up begins.

Once the storm subsides and it is safe to do so, our crews will begin site assessments and repairs, move mobile assets into place as needed, and activate a massive refueling operation to keep sites running until commercial power is restored.

Our Network teams and vendor partners are staffing our 24x7 virtual wireless command center and we are in contact with federal, state and local emergency management teams and are coordinating communication needs and efforts with them.

Unlimited calling, texting and data expanded:

For our consumer and small business customers in nine additional parishes and counties in Louisiana and Texas in the path of Hurricane Laura, beginning Thursday, August 26 through September 1, Verizon is providing unlimited calling, texting and data:

Louisiana: De Soto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine

Texas: Angelina, Nacogdoches, Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby

Customers can verify eligibility for call/text/data relief here:

Postpaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/

Prepaid: https://www.verizonwireless.com/featured/relief/?type=prepaid

Text-to-donate:

Verizon customers can help the American Red Cross or World Central Kitchen in their disaster relief efforts by texting the word LAURA to 90999 for American Red Cross, or FOOD to 80100 for World Central Kitchen, and $10 will be added to their Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation of the billing zip code.

Verizon Response Team deployed:

Our Verizon Response team is deployed in the impacted areas and working 24/7 to coordinate with first responders. We are mobilizing charging stations, devices, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to support local, state and federal agencies in the impacted areas of Louisiana and Texas. First responder customers with wireless priority service should utilize *272 when placing calls.

Retail store closures:

Verizon retail stores may be closed or have reduced hours due to the storm. You can find the nearest one that’s open by visiting: https://www.verizonwireless.com/stores/.

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