C Spire ready for 2021 Atlantic hurricane season
Ridgeland, Miss., (June 1, 2021) –C Spire’s bolstered network and highly-trained staff is ready to respond to emergencies and widespread natural disasters if they occur this summer during the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
The official federal outlook calls for an above average season of up to 20 tropical storms (wind speeds of 39 mph or higher), 6 to 10 hurricanes (74 mph or higher) and three to five major hurricanes (111 mph or higher winds) forming in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins today (Tuesday, June 1).
C Spire hardens its extensive wireless and wireline networks and prepares its workforce for a wide range of potential disasters, including major weather events such as hurricanes. The company routinely reviews and updates its emergency preparedness and crisis communications plans and conducts drills throughout the year to test the readiness of its network and employees.
“As we saw with a record year in 2020, it remains critically important that everyone prepares for the upcoming hurricane season,” said Carla Lewis, Chief Technology Officer for C Spire. “Our preparations are designed to give customers maximum communications reliability at the time of greatest need.”
2020 was a record year in the Atlantic with 30 named storms and 14 hurricanes, seven of which were considered major, including Laura, whose 150-mile-per-hour winds battered Louisiana and produced 77 fatalities and $19 billion in damages. Six other major hurricanes killed 296 people and caused $26.5 billion in damages.
2021 has already proven to be an unprecedented year for severe weather with record rainfall, 15 tornadoes, six deaths, damages to homes and businesses and widespread flooding. With multiple federal disaster declarations and more pending for Mississippi, first responders are preparing for the worst during the upcoming hurricane season.
“These destructive and deadly weather events are stark reminders of how powerful Mother Nature can be,” said Stephen C. McCraney, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “It’s important for everyone to remain vigilant and stay prepared. Pay attention to weather warnings, evacuation notices, check your evacuation kits and develop an evacuation plan before a disaster happens,” he added.
Lewis said all C Spire employees and contractors, along with an extensive suite of network resources, will be on “high alert” throughout the 2021 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. The company also is ready to activate its Emergency Response and Crisis Communications plans, which guide the use of resources and personnel during a crisis and the overall response to a natural disaster.
C Spire routinely takes precautionary steps and puts restoration teams through various training and test scenarios and masses equipment and materials to protect critical network facilities and cell sites. The company uses back up batteries and diesel generators at mobile sites and switching centers and arranges for replacement fuel supplies in case normal fuel delivery options are interrupted by commercial power outages or road closures.
The company operates multiple hurricane-ready “super switches” that provide added protection and service assurance for customers. The high-tech telecommunications switching facilities are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 155 miles an hour, connect millions of calls, wireless data transmissions, video content and other critical services daily for consumer and business customers. In addition to hardened and reinforced shells, the all-steel and concrete buildings house large-scale 500-kilowatt diesel power generators, a grid of back up batteries and other redundant back-up systems, operations and technologies.
Some of the structures feature a 9-inch think external steel-reinforced precast concrete walls welded to 6-foot-wide spread footings. In addition to multiple redundant power feeds, the buildings also boast giant diesel generators each capable of producing 1.65 megawatts of continuous power, enough to light thousands of homes and businesses.
C Spire also relies on an extensive network of microwave technology that can circumvent damaged or destroyed landline systems and ensure that communications can be routed to their final destination, Lewis said. “Microwave technology can assist with communications during natural disasters when landline systems are down,” she added.
In addition, C Spire Business, the company’s business IT division, offers firms of all sizes data protection services with cloud backup and disaster recovery. The division also will be hosting a series of in-person and virtual online sessions for business owners to learn how to better protect their critical data.
C Spire Home, the company’s fixed broadband division, also offers highly reliable and virtually weather-proof fiber-based, ultra-fast Gigabit internet access and related services to consumers and businesses in Mississippi and Alabama.
“This infrastructure, our continuing network investments and our dedicated, customer-inspired workforce will help ensure that essential communications continue for our consumer and business customers even when we experience severe weather events, natural disasters and other life-threatening situations,” Lewis said.
The company is coordinating its emergency response efforts with local, state and federal agencies and organizations, including the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
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