After Hurricane Harvey left parts of Texas battered and flooded, Verizon sent help to the town of Port Arthur in the form of one very large truck.
The white big rig is a mobile communication center, lined with semi-private desks and topped with a pair of satellite dishes. Each desk has a port to connect to the internet, a plug to charge a cell phone or other devices, and a telephone. Verizon says more than a hundred people, including evacuees from shelters and emergency personnel, have been using the truck daily.
The truck is one of the ways cellular companies try to get customers service after a storm or hurricane disrupts service. When a natural disaster hits, the ability to make a phone call can be critical. In the aftermath of a storm, people need their phones to call 911, check available evacuation routes, get news and tell friends and family they are safe.
Cell towers are built to withstand strong hurricane winds, but Harvey's 130-mile-per-hour gusts were rough on some. According to the FCC, 320 out of 7,804 cell sites were down in affected areas in Texas. In some areas, like Aransas county, almost every tower was out of commission following Harvey.
To restore service, carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile use a combination of specially trained repair crews, generators, drones, mobile communications centers like Verizon's big rig, and cellular sites on wheels called "COWs". They are still recovering from Harvey, but with hurricane Irma pressing on towards Florida, the companies will reset and do it all over again.
Each major carrier has emergency plans in place for before, during and after an emergency like a hurricane. The first step is getting service up and working as quickly as possible. They're already have experience deploying hardware to beef up networks for non-emergencies, like sporting events or the presidential inauguration.
If you're preparing for a hurricane, your survival plan should include your smartphone. But you'll want to do a few things in advance to make sure it will work, and actually be helpful in an emergency. And it's a good time to remember: you won’t be able to rely on your mobile device for everything.
1. Download emergency apps prior
2. Charge laptop don't use for anything except as a extra emergency charger for device
3. Purchase portable chargers
4. Fully charge your cell phone
5. Use wi fi for calls cell towers will be congested
6. Use social media tell people your safe or where not to go , look for major updates
7. Use your phone for gps even with out wi fi ect it will work ,download maps prior to the chaos
8. Waterproof your device
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