Two earthquakes in Mexico and a trio of hurricanes in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Houston, Louisiana and Florida have left widespread damage.
In our efforts to restore service to these areas, we've had great collaboration with government officials and others. But our people — doing the difficult, exhausting work — are making a tremendous difference.
During Hurricane Harvey, AT&T technician Hector Carrillo hauled water out of the AT&T Southwest Houston central office — 5 gallons at a time — until it could be restarted. By the time EHS arrived, Hector had removed 140 gallons of water, totaling 28 trips in waist-deep water!
There’s no doubt these disasters were merciless — 4 disasters in 4 regions in 4 weeks is hard to fathom. Many people in these communities are hurting. And there's still massive restoration to be done. But we're dedicated to seeing it through for our employees, customers and communities.
See below for a summary on our response and ongoing efforts.
Across Mexico, buildings collapsed, and there were many fires and gas leaks. Transportation systems were shut down, including highways, parts of the subway system and parts of the Mexico City airport.
Our teams continue to work around the clock and have made great progress on our network. However, the country is still under a national emergency. We are supporting CENACED, an organization actively working to aid relief efforts in Mexico and have given our customers in Mexico an option to support those affected by the earthquake by donating to the organization.
Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands
As the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands face a long road of recovery, we’re bringing much-needed relief. Significant storm damage, power outages and flooding interrupted service throughout the regions.
In Puerto Rico, a total power outage has affected movement and distribution of relief supplies, but John Donovan, AT&T Communications CEO, and our Network team landed in San Juan to help assess damage, develop recovery plans and donate bottled water, generators and other supplies.
In the meantime, we set up a website that will let anyone stateside (regardless of carrier) to register the cell phone number of a family member or friend who is an AT&T wireless customer in Puerto Rico. Thus far, thousands of people have signed up. When the Puerto Rico-based customer’s cell phone connects to our network in Puerto Rico, the customer will be notified that their family or friends in the U.S. have been trying to contact them.
We are also focused on network restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands. We’ve set up a portable cell site in St. Thomas. Some network services have been restored there and throughout the rest of the Virgin Islands.
We continue to work closely with local authorities. And we're ready to begin work just as soon as we can do it safely.
Our wireless network is operating normally. The number of wireline customers without service is shrinking. We’ve brought in more than 100 additional technicians from outside Florida. More than 98% of affected network equipment is back in service. We’re adding power equipment where needed to maintain and restore wireline service. We have more than 180 wireline facilities on battery power and more than 90 on generator power.
So far, we’re working to replace more than 800,000 feet of cable. More than 1,500 utility poles have been broken or damaged and need to be replaced.
Texas and Louisiana
While Harvey resulted in terrible flooding, Irma left severe wind damage. The devastation wrought by these disasters will require a long-term effort to rebuild. The one bright spot in all this is that we're making solid progress restoring our operations in those areas. We've accomplished a lot in our response to Harvey.
All our stores are open in South Texas and Louisiana. Our wireline and wireless networks are business as usual. Accessibility and safety for our teams on the ground were a major concern. But in working around the clock with officials, we were able to find ways to get into many areas.
Be sure to check out a blog post by Joan Marsh, AT&T executive vice president, Regulatory & State External Affairs, titled The Tale of Three Storms.
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