Verizon Wireless customers remain largely without service in Bay County and the Panhandle, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
“Citizens with family and friends in the Bay County and other areas severely impacted by the storm should not panic if they can’t reach their loved ones,” Patronis said.
“Verizon Wireless has massive outages. People in the area must stay off the roads and wait to hear from loved ones. Listen to local emergency officials and obey all curfew orders. Do not risk your life.”
Verizon issued its own update saying the company has staffed command centers, and that officials will assess which areas have been hardest hit by the storm.
“In the hardest hit areas where we are experiencing service interruptions, we are assessing damage and mobilizing pre-staged equipment and people needed for repairs,” reads the Verizon post. “Backup generators are running where needed and we are on standby to refuel generators to ensure our network facilities continue operating for our customers.”
The company is providing free calls, texts and data to all customers in areas affected by the storm once they get service.
The company has stressed it continues to monitor the storm as it tears through states besides Florida. The storm continues to prompt flash flood warnings in North Carolina and south-central Virginia according to the National Hurricane Center, and while it’s now dropped to Tropical Storm level (after the eye has passed through four states), it now threatens a region of the country still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
Patronis also Florida’s Fire Marshall, said the top priority for state officials in the wake of Hurricane Michael remains of public safety.
“My main focus is saving lives and the safety of those recovering and responding in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.”
The storm knocked out power for 359,000 in Florida’s Panhandle as of this morning.
Meteorologists now report Hurricane Michael was stronger than Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Andrew when it made landfall yesterday, according to USA Today.