BellSouth vs. Katrina
First off, BellSouth is matching donated funds at a rate of 2 to 1 (for up to 1 million dollars) if you donate to the BellSouth Pioneers Disaster Relief Fund, which provides aid to employees and retirees of the company. So if you have a BellSouth connection and you want to help, you can make your donation money go really far!
Other stuff BellSouth is doing for its employees and retirees, from a letter by CEO Duane Ackerman:
-- We are accounting for employees in the impacted areas through the BLS-I’m OK number at 1-877-257-4665.
-- Updates are being provided to employees through the Info-NOW number at 1-877-257-4669.
-- "BellSouth Cities" will be set up in affected areas. These tent cities will offer displaced employees, retirees, and their families lodging, meals on site, take-away meals, water, ice, coolers, showers, toilets and laundry facilities.
-- Volunteers are already in route to help at the Tent Cities.
-- Loans are being made to affected employees.
-- Our Employee Assistance Program is providing counseling to help employees and retirees cope with the disaster.
-- Disaster Supply Kits are being assembled to be distributed to affected personnel.
As for the wider world (that whole telephone/Internet company thing), you can read about BellSouth's repair efforts on a link right off their homepage. As of today, the latest news release was from Tuesday, September 6:
Based on data from BellSouth's field survey teams, an estimated 810,000 lines remain impacted in the hardest-hit areas along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In this same area, BellSouth has 131 central offices, with all but 19 operating. These 19 central offices serve approximately 187,000 access lines, with 166,000 of these lines being in the New Orleans area. Restoration plans for these 19 offices are being developed.
"Restoration begins with our central offices and high-capacity trunk lines and the vast majority have been repaired. We are making steady progress as we gain access. Most customers will be restored within 30 days," noted Smith. "However, some communities may take longer to rebuild in certain cases depending on when residents and businesses are able to return to these most affected areas and the time it takes to rebuild needed local infrastructure. New Orleans is an atypical situation given the floodwaters and access issues, and because of this, we will track restoration activity in New Orleans separately."
As it gains more access to the most heavily impacted areas, BellSouth continues to assess the full impact on its network operations. It is too early to project the total magnitude of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, but based on the information available today and without the opportunity to survey and physically assess the entire area, BellSouth's initial estimate is a cost of $400-600 million, including both capital and expense, for network restoration.
BellSouth has about 13,000 employees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - and approximately 6,500 of these are in the hardest hit areas affected by the storm. In order to help our employees continue to work in the face of this hardship, BellSouth has set up BellSouth "tent cities" in Baton Rouge and Covington, Louisiana; and Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Jackson, Mississippi. An additional location will be established this week in Kenner, Louisiana. These cities will provide BellSouth employees and their families with necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, financial support and employee assistance programs. The cities will also serve as deployment areas for BellSouth technicians and engineers that will be sent back into impacted areas to restore service for customers.
It still ain't pretty, but things are getting done.