AT&T Offers Free Phones to Gustav Evacuees
More Than 2,000 GoPhone Devices with $15 in Air Time Available to Residents from Mandatory Evacuation Areas
Dallas, Texas, August 31, 2008
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced the availability of at least 2,000 GoPhone devices with $15 in air time to residents who have been ordered to evacuate their homes due to Hurricane Gustav. The phones will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last to residents who live in any area that government has declared a mandatory evacuation area
The phones will be available at all company-owned AT&T retail locations in Houston and San Antonio, both cities seeing large numbers of incoming evacuees from Louisiana and far southeast Texas. AT&T is rushing extra shipments of GoPhones to the Houston and San Antonio stores, and they are expected to be available as early as Monday evening. AT&T company-owned stores can be found at http://www.wireless.att.com/find-a-store
"In times of crisis, the ability to connect with family and friends is a necessity and, at the same time, comforting," said Chris Penrose, vice president and general manager for AT&T's wireless unit in south Texas. "Hopefully, this offer will allow many of those forced from their homes by Hurricane Gustav to take care of critical needs or simply reconnect with loved ones."
Residents eligible for the offer must be 16 years or older and show a valid photo identification, including ZIP code from an area declared a mandatory evacuation area. The offer is good for one phone for each person.
Penrose encourages all wireless phone users in the affected areas to try text messaging when possible instead of making voice calls. During an emergency situation, text messages will often go through quicker than voice calls because they require less network resources. All of AT&T's wireless devices are text messaging capable.
- Have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know whom to contact if they become separated.
- Be sure you have a "Hurricane Phone." It's a good idea to have a wireless phone on hand and at least one corded (landline) telephone that is not dependent on electricity in case of a power outage. Cordless telephones usually have receivers that are electrically charged, so they won't work if you lose your power.
- Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.
- Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as charging your wireless device by using your car charger or having extra mobile phone batteries or disposable mobile phone batteries on hand.
- Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.
- Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get incoming calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted at your home. In the unlikely event that the central office is not operational, services such as voice mail, call forwarding, remote access call forwarding and call forwarding busy line/don't answer may be useful.
- Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a wireless device that provides access to the Internet, you can watch weather reports through MobiTV® or AT&T Mobile TV or keep updated with local radar and severe weather alerts through My-Cast® Weather, if you subscribe to those services.
- If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos — even video clips — of damaged property to your insurance company from your device.
- Take advantage of location-based mapping technology such as AT&T Navigator, available on some wireless devices, to seek evacuation routes or to avoid traffic congestion from downed trees or power lines.
Small Business Tips:
- Set up a call-forwarding service to a predetermined backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, employees' families, customers and partners, as appropriate, to call so that all parties know about the business situation and emergency plan. For this to be most effective, maintain an updated contact list, including mobile and home phone numbers and e-mail addresses, for all employees.
- Protect hardware/software/data records/employee records, etc. Routinely back up these files to an off-site location. Use a generator for supplying backup power to vital computer hardware and other mission-critical equipment. Prearrange the replacement of damaged hardware with vendors to ensure quick business recovery.
- Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place plans. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.
- Assemble a crisis-management team and coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Be aware that disasters affecting your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business essentials.
Maximizing Service During and After a Hurricane:
- During an emergency, more people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to "fast busy" signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.
- Try wireless text/short messaging service (SMS). During an emergency situation, text messages will often go through quicker than voice calls because they require less network resources. All of AT&T's wireless devices are text messaging capable. Also, if you have a wireless data device such as an Apple iPhone or a BlackBerry® smartphone, you can use its messaging capabilities to communicate. Depending on the call plan, additional charges may apply.
- Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.
Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness can be found at www.att.com/vitalconnections.
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