TAMPA, Fla. - The cellular company Verizon Wireless says it managed to stay intact after Hurricane Charley, and it wants to make sure its network continues to be reliable at all times, no matter what the weather.
"For Verizon, network reliability is everything," explained Chuck Hamby, public relations manager for Verizon Wireless.
Taking us on a tour of his company's mobile telephone switching office, or what they call their Super Switch because it was built to withstand a category five storm, Chuck explained the site, "is the busiest in the United States as far as cell sites it serves."
And the super switch is supposed to keep running, no matter what the weather brings. While Chuck says Verizon's network held up during Charley, his company learned a lot and fine-tuned its emergency plans.
"We prepare by checking our network constantly," Chuck explained. "When a storm is threatening, we're pre-positioning equipment."
And on top of placing generators on site at their cell towers, Verizon Wireless has an arsenal of "farm" animals to help out.
"We also have COWS, and COLTS, and GOATS, which sounds like a farm but it's actually cells on wheels, cells on light trucks and generators on trailers. And those can go in on the aftermath as well and bring-- whether there's power or connectivity, bring that cell coverage back up," said Chuck.
But besides all the technology they have in place, Chuck said it takes something else to really get things moving after a storm.
"I can honestly say that we have a couple of thousand employees throughout the state of Florida and it takes virtually every single one of them wherever you work," he said.
Most importantly, Chuck says the company recognizes that each storm is different and they have to be prepared for anything.
"This is what we plan for and we won't rest on our laurels. We're not foolish enough to think we got it all figured out. We're going to try to stay ahead of mother nature."
No matter what cell phone provider you have there are some tips to surviving a storm, with your cell.
--Have an extra battery or two on hand, in case the power goes out and there's no way to charge your phone
--Consider getting a car charger.
--Pre-program important numbers, so you don't have to search through soggy papers after a storm.
--Try using text messages after a storm. They won't tie up the network and you don't have to keep trying to send the message if the network is busy. It will just queue up and eventually send itself.