Verizon responds to locals after hurricane response commercial is released

Verizon is responding to locals about its latest commercial addressing hurricane response. (Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0 )

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A new Verizon commercial has some locals upset.

The commercial depicts a man identified as a Verizon engineer talking about how the company is ready for hurricane season and their response to past hurricanes saying, "We're always preparing. We have hundreds and hundreds of portable assets that are ready to go."

Some locals say they were without Verizon service for nearly a month after Hurricane Michael.

We reached out to Verizon about the commercial. They released this statement:

"We know we didn't live up to our customers’ expectations immediately after Michael hit. We didn't live up to our own expectations. However, it was an anomaly for Verizon. We are proud of the way we responded to the situation, and proud of our longstanding track record of reliability following natural disasters -- like Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Florence.

"We communicated extensively with our customers, including federal, state and local officials as well as public safety and first responders, in addition to the media shortly after Hurricane Michael hit, posting our first network update on October 11, less than 24 hours after the historic storm made landfall. The following day, October 12, as our network team started to be able to gain access to the areas where the damage to our network occurred, we began posting twice-daily updates. Those continued through October 15. We went back to daily updates on October 16, and those continued through October 21, when we posted our final network update once we were back up and running. Verizon employees staffed multiple Emergency Operations Centers in order to quickly respond to needs from emergency response commanders in real time. We communicated multiple times a day with state and local leaders, providing progress reports, and we established single points of contacts with key leaders at every level of government to ensure consistent and timely communication.

"During this time period, we had multiple executives on the ground meeting with customers and giving updates to the media, including Chief Technology Officer Nicola Palmer, Chief Operating Officer Tami Erwin, Executive Vice President of Global Field Operations and Assurance David Small and Market President Krista Bourne. Additionally, Palmer met with the CEOs of Gulf Power and Uniti, our fiber vendor in the area, to discuss how to combine resources to expedite restoration, including embedding our crews with the power company crews to restore new fiber cuts as they happened.

"After service was fully restored, we had more than 200 employees on the ground, supporting the community and first responders in a variety of ways, including staffing Emergency Operations Centers, Wireless Communications Centers, charging stations and shelters and other community events, delivering meals to volunteers and first responders, and delivering needed supplies to community relief sites.

"With each storm we go through, we learn more and more, and we evolve our game plan. This storm, the worst to make landfall in the Panhandle in history, held some key learnings for us. In the last several months we have been evaluating and implementing new technologies which we used heavily in this storm's recovery including satellite as backhaul for mobile equipment like SPOTs (Satellite Pico Cells on Trucks) and COWs (Cells on Wheels). We have also carefully considered how and where we install fiber, which is critical to all network operations, and are working closely with local officials to bury more fiber than we have had previously in this area.

"As we said last October, we know our neighbors in the Panhandle have a long road ahead and we will be there every step of the way. Which is why we are investing $25 million into our network across the Panhandle to help the community rebuild with the most technologically advanced wireless infrastructure – including 5G. In addition to the $1 million donation to the American Red Cross and the Florida Relief Fund in the immediate aftermath of the storm, we provided grants to Feeding the Gulf Coast, United Way of Northwest Florida, South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department/Gulf County Beaches Volunteer Fire Department, Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association, Bay County Education Foundation, Education Foundation of Gulf County, Connecting Everyone with Second Chances (CESC)/The Kearny Center and the Junior League of Panama City on grants to support their critically important relief and recovery work. We are also working with Habitat for Humanity on a significant donation tied to a multi-year commitment in the Panhandle."

Copyright 2019 WJHG. All rights reserved.