When a catastrophe such as Hurricane Harvey hits, cable companies respond, whether it’s all-hands-on-deck to restore service or through generous donations. In either case, it’s about community, not just customers. Often this dedication to service comes even as cable employees personally cope with the catastrophe’s impact on their own homes and families.
The investment of billions of dollars by cable operators into the most advanced technology allows cable operators to keep their customers informed and connected during dangerous storms. In addition, companies adopt disaster preparedness plans. But sometimes Mother Nature can prove to be too much, as has been the case during Hurricane Harvey, which is enfolding to be a catastrophe of epic proportions.
And sometimes restoring service is beyond control of the cable company, when local emergency management officials deem it to be too unsafe to go into the impacted region to restore service. Comcast faced that situation in the days after Hurricane Harvey began unleashing its historic rain and flooding in the Greater Houston area. An estimated 189,000 cable subscribers in several counties did not have cable as of Monday following the hurricane’s landfall.
On Wednesday (Aug. 30), Comcast finally had the go-ahead to begin the assessment and restoration efforts in the Greater Houston area, which includes seven counties.
Ahead of the hurricane’s impact, however, Comcast enabled communication for both subscribers and nonsubscribers by opening some 53,000 Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots around the Houston area to help people and emergency workers connect.
Altice USA, which offers Suddenlink service in part of South Texas including Victoria, has said its employees are “working around the clock” where physical access has been permitted, to assist affected Suddenlink customers, local communities and employees. The Suddenlink retail store in Victoria is providing free WiFi and charging stations for all residents.
Cable companies that serve the impacted areas prepared in advance for Hurricane Harvey, placing extra crews on standby.
Now, as the recovery process is just beginning, cable companies have announced generous donations to the Texas communities affected.
Comcast and NBCUniversal have committed more than $1 million in cash and in-kind contributions in the Houston area, including $500,000 in cash to be shared between Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the American Red Cross. Comcast also is donating advertising time to those organizations to run public service announcements.
Charter Communications is making a $350,000 contribution to Rebuilding Together to support relief efforts and specifically assist with home repairs and renovations needed in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Charter is also offering $1 million in public service announcements to air at no cost to assist organizations with fundraising and awareness efforts in their work to help residents in Southeast Texas.
Altice USA announced a $50,000 donation to the Red Cross of Texas. It also is providing the Red Cross with free advertising time across its Optimum and Suddenlink systems nationwide.