Biloxi residents urged to prepare emergency communication plan for 2016 hurricane season

Biloxi residents urged to prepare emergency communication plan for 2016 hurricane season

BILOXI, MS - This is a news release from Verizon Wireless

Last week marked the start of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, reminding Biloxi residents that preparation is key to keeping their families safe and ready for severe weather.

Verizon Wireless, which operates the nation's largest and most reliable 4G LTE network, offers these tips to help stay in touch and out of danger during hurricane season:

  • Store phones, tablets, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.  Simple zip-lock storage bags will shield devices, and today there are many waterproof phones, cases and other protective accessories.
  • Keep phone and tablet batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
  • Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power. Numerous chargers, including solar-powered devices, make it easy to stay powered up.
  • Maintain a list of emergency numbers – police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your wireless devices before an emergency arises.
  • Use a free service such as Verizon Cloud, which provides 5MB of data storage, to save your contacts and other important information on a secure server in case your phone or tablet is lost or damaged.
  • Use your tablet to photograph and catalogue your valuables and other household belongings for possible insurance claims.
  • Choose from hundreds of free weather-, news- and safety-related apps and services for smartphones and tablets, such as Hurricane, by the American Red Cross, Weather: Universal Forecast, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, and NOAA Now and other mobile resources from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This year, we've already seen extreme rainfall and heavy flooding in many cities throughout the southern part of the U.S. and that's a strong reminder that a disaster can  occur anytime," said Leo Perreault, executive director of network, South Central Market, for Verizon Wireless.  "Having a family emergency communication plan as part your hurricane season preparation is a smart idea, especially here in Biloxi."

To ensure reliable wireless coverage for customers across the state Verizon has completed extensive storm season preparation as part of its ongoing network enhancements.  Since 2000, the company has invested about $111 billion to reinforce coverage, capacity and services, including activating XLTE on sites throughout the nation.  XLTE is Verizon's latest high-speed network technology that is especially effective in high-demand locations – such as an area threatened or hit by a storm – where residents are relying on wireless devices to stay in touch.

Anchoring Verizon's network coverage in Biloxi are the company's network switching centers. These facilities are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and can serve as Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) for Verizon and first-responders.  These facilities – handling tens of millions of wireless connections even on a crisis-free day -- feature hardened shells, large-scale on-site power generation and other back-up systems to ensure the company's network remains strong, running and reliable.

Based at the super-switches are fleets of Cells On Wheels (COWs), Cells On Light Trucks (COLTs), Cellular Repeaters On Wheels (CROWs) and Generators On A Trailer (GOATs) that can be deployed quickly to hard-hit locations or areas needing extra wireless capacity.

Verizon also has installed back-up generators at more than 99 percent of cell sites in the Gulfport-Biloxi area to maintain wireless communication even in the event of a prolonged power outage. In conjunction with the generators, Verizon has pre-arranged fuel delivery in case of a storm, and will have tankers poised and in position to quickly respond.

"Reliable wireless service is critical in emergency communications," Perreault said.  "And we take preparation very seriously."