I travelled to Houston yesterday with John Donovan and members of his leadership team to survey the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey, which was unimaginable. We visited a central office (CO) that was swamped by six feet of water in the middle of a neighborhood where piles of debris flanked the curbs in every direction.
We toured the NRG Center, where thousands of evacuees fled to find food and shelter and protection, many of whom suffered the total loss of their homes. And we visited a retail store that was destroyed by flood waters, but which popped back up within 48 hours in a trailer in the parking lot to provide service, charging stations and even hot food to the local community.
Houston found itself in the eye of the storm, and Harvey bared its teeth. But when the storm blew through, it must have left its heart because heart was on full display in Houston yesterday. We saw it in the engineers who were splicing massive fists full of copper pairs to recover the central office, working 14-hour shifts to get service restored. We saw enormous heart in the league of volunteers gathered at the NRG shelter, working to provide food and clothing and respite and communications support for the thousands of residents there.
And we saw real heart at our retail store, where AT&T employees from around Texas volunteered to come to Houston to aid in recovery efforts and to serve the community from a parking lot trailer. They said they didn’t want our customers to need help and find the door closed.
It is said that when you weather a storm, you emerge a different person. Houston and southern Texas are without a doubt forever changed by Harvey. But as the waters recede, the Texan heart still beats strong.
Our thanks and gratitude go to all the public safety officials, first responders, network technicians and engineers, sales representatives and external affairs personnel who rose to the challenges Harvey doled out and responded with nothing but heart. The need is great and your service is very much appreciated.