Hurricane Sandy One Year Later: A Look Back for Comcast and NBCUniversal
NBC News, the Weather Channel, our owned-and-operated local TV stations, and our other networks pulled together to deliver 24/7 unprecedented and up-to-the-minute news coverage of the storm across multiple platforms. Our journalists informed viewers on everything from transportation delays and shutdowns to mandatory evacuations and power outages, ensuring safety information was accessible to as many people as possible during the hurricane.
Before the storm, Comcast teams in the Northeast and other affected regions took every precaution they could to help area residents prepare. "We increased our staffing immediately and notified customers of our plan and what they should do after the storm hit," said LeAnn Talbot, Regional Senior Vice President at Comcast.
Afterward, Comcast employees immediately began assessing the damage, restoring communications services to our customers, and helping affected communities. "We worked with first responders, the New York City Office of Emergency Management, and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to get them restored first," Talbot said. "We then brought in generators and fuel to hard-hit areas — including places that went up to six weeks without power."
Comcast opened up access to approximately 20,000 XFINITY hotspots in 10 hard-hit states and the District of Columbia, providing free WiFi access for people to communicate with family and friends or receive crucial recovery information. These hotspots supported more than 250,000 individual sessions involving tens of thousands of unique users. And we opened our 15 New Jersey payment centers to provide free power-charging stations to anyone in need. "We saw the horrific damage firsthand and wanted to do anything we could to help," Talbot said.
In less than 36 hours, NBCUniversal employees — many with damage to their own homes — organized the star-studded Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together telethon. "We needed to help people as soon as possible and knew moving quickly would generate a bigger response," said Doug Vaughan, Executive Vice President of Special Programs and Late Night Programming.
Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Aerosmith were among the featured musicians, while celebrities like Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Whoopi Goldberg made guest appearances to urge viewers to donate.
The Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together telethon inspired unprecedented generosity. A record-breaking number of donations poured in through text messages, phone calls, and online channels. At any given moment during the telethon there were approximately 70,000 people waiting to donate to the American Red Cross. The telethon generated more than $23 million in pledges for relief efforts.
Comcast’s commitment to supporting our communities in need led us six months later to the New Jersey shore town of Highlands, a working-class community where flooding damaged more than 80 percent of the homes.
On April 27, 2013, about 250 Comcast volunteers traveled to Highlands to participate in Comcast Cares Day, our company’s annual day of service. They joined local business and community partners, and residents, for a community-wide cleanup that included restoring two local parks, repairing the boardwalk, cleaning up the beach, planting dune grass, restoring a community center and assisting residents moving back into their homes.
At Comcast, we use all of our resources to give back to the communities where our customers and employees live and work. At no time was that more necessary and more important than one year ago this month.