Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

Genachowski Response and Recovery Efforts Hurricane Irene

Download Options

Released: August 28, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

August 28, 2011
Neil Grace, 202-418-0506



Washington, D.C. – The FCC issued the following statement from FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski regarding the Commission’s efforts following Hurricane Irene:
“I want to begin by offering my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones as a result of
Hurricane Irene. While we hope that the worst has passed, we continue to remain vigilant in our
evaluation and response to the situation as it evolves. Working with FEMA, our other federal and
state partners, and communications service providers, we’re focused on ensuring that people can
communicate with each other and with first responders during this difficult time.
Communications networks are of course essential for public safety and for the functioning of our
“As Hurricane Irene gets downgraded to a tropical storm, the FCC continues to evaluate the
damage from the areas affected in its aftermath. Based on reports to date, there have been some
wireline and wireless outages. The good news, based on these initial reports, is that there hasn't
been major damage to our communications infrastructure, except for damage along coastal
regions hit hard by the storm.
“We are pleased that current reports indicate no 9-1-1 center is without service, and we have
received no reports of public safety communications outages. Overall, broadcast and radio are
largely unaffected, though in North Carolina a significant number of cable customers are out of
“The FCC remains on active watch around-the-clock to assess and respond to outages where
necessary. We currently have four Roll Call teams deployed to conduct post event scans of the
radio signal environment. I have also spoken directly to the CEOs of wireless, telco and cable
companies, and we are working to ensure continuation of service, and that service is restored
quickly where needed.
“In the hours and days ahead, the hurricane’s impact is not over. The FCC will remain vigilant as
we address continued outages from flooding and commercial power outages. During this time
we have activated our 24-7 response capabilities and have resources deployed in the field and
monitor and respond, as appropriate, to outages.

“We also continue to work with our federal and state partners on key steps to ensure that our
emergency communications systems meet the needs of Americans in the 21st century – including
getting an interoperable mobile broadband public safety network funded and built; launching
PLAN nationwide, a new mobile alerting system which would provide a “fast-track” for
emergency alerts around network congestion; and accelerating the move to Next Gen 911 so that
people can send text, video or photos to 9-1-1 in times of emergency.
"I want to thank Ret. Admiral Barnett and the staff of the Public Safety Bureau and throughout
the FCC who have been working to anticipate, and now respond, to this hurricane. I’ve seen
first-hand, including this morning at the FCC Ops Center, the dedication and commitment of
FCC staff, and we owe them our thanks for their ongoing service.”
Limit non-emergency phone calls. This will minimize network congestion, free up
"space" on the network for emergency communications and conserve battery power if you are
using a wireless phone;
Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to use it only to convey vital
information to emergency personnel and/or family;
For non-emergency calls, try text messaging, also known as short messaging service
(SMS) when using your wireless phone. In many cases text messages will go through when your
call may not. It will also help free up more "space" for emergency communications on the
telephone network;
If possible try a variety of communications services if you are unsuccessful in getting
through with one. For example, if you are unsuccessful in getting through on your wireless
phone, try a messaging capability like text messaging or email. Alternatively, try a landline
phone if one is available. This will help spread the communications demand over multiple
networks and should reduce overall congestion;
Wait 10 seconds before redialing a call. On many wireless handsets, to re-dial a number,
you simply push "send" after you've ended a call to redial the previous number. If you do this too
quickly, the data from the handset to the cell sites does not have enough time to clear before
you've resent the same data. This contributes to a clogged network;
Have charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for backup power for your
wireless phone;
7. Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers in your phone;
8. If in your vehicle, try to place calls while your vehicle is stationary; Have a family
communications plan in place.

9. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain all family
members know who to contact if they become separated;
If you have Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your
wireless number in the event of an evacuation. That way you will get incoming calls from your
landline phone;
After the storm has passed, if you lose power in your home, try using your car to charge
cell phones or listen to news alerts on the car radio. But be careful – don’t try to reach your car if
it is not safe to do so, and remain vigilant about carbon monoxide emissions from your car if it is
in a closed space, such as a garage.
Tune-in to broadcast and radio news for important news alerts.
13. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. But if it's not an emergency, use other
More information on emergency communications during Hurricane Irene from the FCC can be
found at Residents can also find more information at, or
News and other information about the FCC is available at

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.


You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.