Verizon Worst-Case Scenario: Two Weeks to Restore Service

Verizon Communications said Thursday afternoon it is making “substantial progress” in restoring service knocked out by Hurricane Sandy, but based on how quickly power is restored it could take up to two more weeks before some customers in the hardest-hit Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions are back online.

The telco’s crews have been working around the clock since storm flooding took out several critical facilities on Monday (Oct. 29) night in New York City. Verizon said as of Thursday afternoon it had restored backup power to four facilities in Lower Manhattan and one on Long Island that incurred severe flood damage and lost commercial power, including the company's headquarters at 140 West St.

Based on restoration of commercial power, it could take anywhere from a few days to a “worst-case scenario” of up to two weeks, Verizon spokesman Bill Kula said, confirming a Reuters report but emphasizing that there will be a "rolling restoration of service" taking place on a daily basis.

“We have hundreds of central offices operating on backup generators, and we're already restoring service for some customers who were out of service,” Kula said, adding that many customers in Sandy's path never lost service.

The telco has not cited how many customers lost service after the storm plowed into the Northeast earlier this week.

Verizon cited availability of fuel to keep generators delivering backup power to switching facilities and other critical network equipment as an increasing challenge in the most severely affected areas such as New Jersey and New York.

The telco said it is coordinating with commercial power companies and local authorities to deal with issues such as downed power lines, trees and other debris; closed roads; persistently high water; and several feet of snow in some areas of the region affected by the storm.

"Thousands of our dedicated employees are bringing customers' services back across the affected area," Bob Mudge, president of Verizon's Consumer and Mass Business division, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the extent of the storm damage -- including lingering power outages and inaccessible roadways -- in harder-hit areas like New Jersey and the New York City metro area makes full restoration a marathon and not a sprint."

Verizon Wireless said it is letting customers charge their devices and providing free domestic phone calls at many stores in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and FiOS stores were also open to let visitors charge devices.

In addition, Verizon Wireless has deployed Wireless Emergency Communication Centers (WECCs) at Monmouth University in New Jersey and at two locations in Toms River, N.J. The WECCs offer public access to device-charging and computer work stations, as well as wireless phones and other devices to make free phone calls, recharge their personal cell phones regardless of the wireless provider, and access the Internet using the company's mobile broadband service.

The wireless carrier also set up mobile stores-on-wheels that serve as fully functioning Verizon Wireless Communications Stores in place at locations in Sea Girt and Howell, N.J.

Meanwhile, Verizon Enterprise Solutions is collaborating with clients in the healthcare, energy, utilities and transportation sectors to identify critical issues to ensure restoration of services. In many areas, Verizon Enterprise Solutions is enabling clients' business continuity plans with wireless backup and additional equipment to those in the government and financial sectors.

The Verizon Foundation has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to help provide immediate relief for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Verizon also is matching employee donations to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army two-for-one (up to $1,000 per employee).

Verizon Wireless announced a text-to-donate campaign, and so far customers have donated more than $230,000 to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, American Humane Association and the United Way of Hudson County, N.J.