Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on February 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm
Authored by Bill Smith, AT&T’s President of Network Operations
By all accounts, Superstorm Sandy was a massively destructive event that resulted in more than $70 billion in damage and caused devastating losses for many in the impacted area. More than eight million people lost power, which was a record for a storm-induced power outage. AT&T has a $600 million, 300-vehicle network disaster recovery organization that has a 30-year history of preparing for the full spectrum of “all threats” and that conducts full-scale field exercises across the country and overseas several times each year. We utilized these critical resources to prepare and respond to Sandy in the most effective way possible.
No matter the disaster at hand, in every case, the key to an efficient response is planning and preparation. This includes prepositioning assets and leveraging the flexibility to address different events – a blizzard is a very different challenge from a hurricane, an earthquake or terrorist attack. We try to anticipate, plan and prepare for the entire spectrum of possibilities, and we regularly train and re-certify our employees and partners that support this process. A key focus at AT&T is our ongoing post-event process to identify lessons learned from our experience and from others during each event.
As Sandy headed our way, AT&T began monitoring the projected path, intensity, and impacts with our on-staff meteorologist – that’s right, we have a dedicated Weatherpro. With our presence in Puerto Rico, we have experience with Atlantic hurricanes before they make landfall on the mainland. Resources prepositioned throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic and eventually the entire Northeast region included Emergency Communications Vehicles, Cells-on-Wheels (COWs), Satellite Cells-on-Light-Trucks (COLTs), over 3,000 generators, and a convoy of fuel tanker trucks to keep our network equipment going. We set up more than 100 staging areas across the projected impact zone, out of harm’s way, but close enough to the projected storm landfall to allow for rapid deployment. In addition to equipment, AT&T prepositioned additional personnel and provided emergency credentialing to ensure we could move throughout the area to rapidly restore communications. We had multiple command and control centers and even set up international communications channels for our overseas customers with assets in the affected areas.