Following the severe weather and tornadoes that devastated the Southeast on April 27, SouthernLINC Wireless is working closely with state and local Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) in Alabama and Georgia to aid ongoing restoration efforts.
The carrier is providing critical wireless communications services and additional support for utility and government personnel who are continuing relief and rescue efforts, as well as individuals who are trying to contact friends and family. Presently, 99.5 percent of SouthernLINC Wireless cell sites in its Regional Service Area are operational.
"We are all sad for the damage and losses our neighbors have suffered," said Bob Dawson president and CEO of SouthernLINC Wireless. "SouthernLINC Wireless is doing all that it can to help support the restoration effort; this is an all-hands-on-deck mission.
"Since early Wednesday afternoon, SouthernLINC Wireless representatives have been on the ground in Tuscaloosa and northwest Georgia and stationed in the Emergency Operations Centers of the Alabama and Georgia Emergency Management Agencies. We are prioritizing actions in conjunction with Alabama Power, Georgia Power, and state and local EMAs."
By 4:30 p.m. Thursday, deployment had begun on a Cell on Wheels (COW) with an Emergency Microwave Unit (EMU) at Snow Hinton Park near the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and Hargrove Road in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The COW and EMU are providing additional coverage and capacity in and around the tornado-damaged area. Additional COWs are being deployed in conjunction with Alabama Power and EMA requirements.
SouthernLINC Wireless also engaged state and local emergency management agencies and departments of transportation to clear downed trees and other debris blocking roads, so that the carrier could deliver supplies and gain access to its cell sites. Generators were mobilized to various cell sites running on batteries to keep them operational until commercial power was restored, and base radios, which increase the site's capacity to handle increased call volume, were added at a number of critical cell tower sites.
Equipment, including nearly 1000 handsets and batteries, was hand-delivered by SouthernLINC Wireless employees to the affected areas to meet the needs of first responders and other customers involved in restoration efforts. From April 27 through May 1, nearly 1400 new lines of service were activated. In fact, one Alabama school system added cellular service to more than 250 existing Push To Talk (PTT) two-way radio only plans because their calling provider's service was not accessible.
Less than 48 hours after the storms moved through the area, only 2 percent of SouthernLINC Wireless cell tower sites were experiencing service issues. The issues were due to damaged landline circuits that are leased from local, wire line telecommunications companies. SouthernLINC Wireless is working with these wire line providers to restore service to all sites as quickly as possible. In areas like Cordova, Ala., where there is extensive damage to the landline circuits and central office, SouthernLINC Wireless deployed a satellite trailer that bypassed the damaged circuits owned by the local telecom provider and restored service.
As SouthernLINC Wireless continues to assist with the restoration efforts, customers are reminded to become familiar with their phone's features and how to use alternate methods of wireless communication, including PTT, text messaging and LINCaround off-network push-to-talk two-way radio. These services may be the best option available to stay in contact with others during an emergency.