C&W Communications, operator of the retail brand Flow in the Caribbean, yesterday provided an update on the impact to its people, markets, and operations from Hurricane Irma which left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean and parts of the United States.
As the largest full service communications operator in the region, C&W reported that it saw impacts across the region including in the islands of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. US-based employees in Florida were also affected by the storm.
“Clearly Irma was an historic event, and we have suffered some damage to both fixed and mobile networks in our markets that bore the full force of the storm,” C&W’s CEO John Reid said in a statement.
“First and foremost, our initial assessment indicates that our people are fully accounted for in the affected countries. Our networks proved very resilient during the passage of the storm, and at times we were the only network operating in some of the impacted territories. I’m pleased to report that our mobile network in Antigua and Anguilla are back up to pre-Irma usage levels. There was, however, significant impact to our systems and services in Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
"C&W’s attention is now wholly focused on rapidly restoring services to impacted customers across the region. Teams across the region are working around the clock to return services to normal. The company has also established a Restoration Hub in Antigua, where technicians from across the C&W Group – Jamaica, Barbados, and Panama – as well as its parent Company Liberty Global will be dedicated to getting islands back online. The company also extended free credit across affected markets, enabling pre-pay mobile customers to get in contact with loved ones on their island or abroad without worrying about charges. The free credits allow customers to use SMS, social media or make calls. For customers on contracted or post-pay services (e.g. home broadband, telephone and TV and post-pay mobile) C&W announced that it will not disconnect services in affected areas until further notice to ease the burden on our customers during this difficult time."
Reid said that offices in affected markets are opening their doors to allow customers to charge their devices and access Wi-Fi services free of charge.
“If nothing else, the challenging events of this past week have only served to demonstrate the amazing spirit within C&W. Our mission is ‘Connecting Communities…Transforming Lives’, and the past seven days have seen us live this to the fullest. I would like to make special mention of our team members in the Caribbean and the U.S. who have been working night and day throughout this traumatic event to ensure continuity of our business. In the Caribbean especially, our amazing people came out in full force, despite personal loss and stayed late into the night to ensure customers could utilize our services to stay in touch with their loved ones. These selfless actions positively impacted thousands of others and provided a sense of calm and comfort during this difficult time. I have never been prouder to be part of this great company.”
Reid concluded, “C&W has operated in the Caribbean for over a century, and we are deeply intertwined with the communities that we are proud to serve. We are totally focused on helping these communities, and our customers, get back to normal, and are dedicating ourselves to ensure that we can make the biggest contribution possible to that end. We are working with local governments and agencies to get supplies and expertise into affected markets, and we will make further announcements in due course as to how we will be further helping our communities.”