BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As June quickly approaches, AT&T shared how the company is preparing for hurricane season.

Hurricane Ida impacted thousands of people across the United States, Louisiana, and Venezuela. Homes were destroyed and blackouts in many areas with limited water supply.

On August 26, 2021, strong winds and rain formed into a Category 4 Hurricane named Ida.

AT&T Director of Sales and Operations in Louisiana, Titus Lewis explained how important it is to prepare for hurricane season.

“It’s extremely important to make sure that we know where our loved ones are and that they’re safe and secure under natural disaster circumstances,” said Lewis.

Hurricane Ida caused severe damage to many parishes between the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas, causing many powerlines to go down and lights to go out. This made it much harder to communicate using electronic devices for many days.

“We understood the technology,” stated Lewis. “We understood potentially what we could have gone wrong.”

Lewis said AT&T will partner with other electric companies and weather experts to assist with severe storms and major power loss.

“It’s a collaborative effort within the community to get everybody back where they need to be,” said Lewis.

When a storm hits, Lewis said everyone goes into action mode.

“We have in-house meteorologists tracking the information step by step, right? So, we can get that information to you as fast as possible,” said Lewis.

During a crisis, AT&T can deploy about 3,200 employees across the state of Louisiana. For safety, “First responders have the priority on the network so that their cellular devices don’t go down and that we can get to you as fast as possible,” said Lewis.

AT&T said they’ve invested millions of dollars revamping their infrastructure, moving fiber optics from the pole to the ground barriers below.

“Those buried fiber lines are reinforced, right? With piping on top of the fiber line. So burying them underneath, even if there’s a whole bunch of water, I would even say biblical flooding. It still won’t be able to penetrate those lines enough to be able to cause a disruption,” said Lewis.

With the improved technology, there are options available that allow you to track your loved ones on your cell phone or tablet, just in case something transpires.

“There’s even communication mechanisms within the application of your app to say ‘Hi,’ ‘Hello,’ ‘I’m okay.’ Those things are probably something that I would do under hurricane circumstances,” said Lewis.

According to the National Hurricane Center, about 50 percent of areas in River Parishes northwest of New Orleans experienced power outages.

“The best I’m sorry, Is not repeating the wrong action. And that’s something that we’re trying to do to make sure that we mitigate and ultimately do the right thing this time around,” said Lewis.

Lewis said AT&T put its money where its mouth is. The company learned from past mistakes and improved the technology that can reassure the network is strong enough to handle another natural disaster. 

“We deeply apologize. We empathize and we have learned more importantly,” said Lewis.

Hurricane season starts on June 1 and goes until November 30.

Hurricane Preparedness Tech Tips for Families from AT&T:

  • Try texting vs. calling. Because it requires fewer network resources, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls.
  • Keep your mobile devices charged. Be sure to have another way to charge your smartphone if the power goes out.  A car charger or backup battery pack can come in handy. If you have multiple devices to keep charged, consider a multi-port backup battery pack.
  • Save your smartphone’s battery life. In case of a power outage, extend your device’s battery life by putting it in power-save mode, turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, deleting apps, or putting your phone in Airplane Mode. This may prevent you from using certain features, but it- will ultimately save battery power.
  • Keep your mobile devices dry. Mobile phones can be a critical lifeline during a storm. To protect yours, store it in a water-resistant case, floating-waterproof case, or plastic bag.
  • Back up important information and protect vital documents. Back up insurance papers, medical information, and the like to the Cloud or your computer. With cloud storage, you can access your data from any connected device.
  • Have a family communications plan. Choose someone out of the area as a central contact in case your family is separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.
  • Store emergency contacts in your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station, hospital, and family members.
  • Forward your home number to your mobile number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is down. If the central office is not operational, services like voicemail and call forwarding may be useful.
  • Track the storm on your mobile device. If you lose power at your home during a storm, you can use your mobile device to access local weather reports.
  • Take advantage of the camera on your smartphone. Be sure to use the camera on your phone to take, store, and send photos and video clips of damage to your insurance company.
  • Use location-based technology. These services can help you find evacuation routes and track a lost family member’s mobile phone.
  • Be prepared for high call volume and keep non-emergency calls to a minimum. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion. If you get a “fast busy” signal on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone, hang up, wait several seconds, and then try again.