Rising floodwaters. Hurricane-force winds. Rapidly spreading wildfires. These catastrophes all share one thing: they test the spirit. Throughout our entire Comcast NBCUniversal family, stories of selfless service and compassion have emerged from the recovery efforts. Our employees have an inclination toward action, so these are only a few of the hundreds of incredible examples of how we are Comcast strong.
Hope in Houston: Mike Piel
First-floor windows barely peek out of the water. Car roofs form small islands. After Hurricane Harvey, this was the scene in the neighborhood where Mike Piel assisted rescue efforts for almost 10 hours. A friend’s aunt and uncle needed to be rescued. Piel assembled a team of four men and two boats and went on to pull 20 people from the rising waters. Rescue operations are not included in Piel’s job description. But during the severe flooding in Houston, the Comcast Manager of Commercial Direct Multiple Dwelling Unit Sales stepped into a new role in his community. “Honestly, there are no words to describe all of the destruction. And to then rescue people and see the look in their eyes — that everything they had is gone,” Piel says. But he also saw hope in the community — in the outreach from friends and strangers throughout Houston. “It was very inspiring to see everyone help. It didn’t matter if you knew them or not. It didn’t matter what you believed or the color of your skin — everyone just started helping.”
Hometown Hero: Francisco Carmona
As the scenes of devastation from Hurricane Maria illuminated screens on the mainland, Francisco Carmona could not just watch. Puerto Rico, his birthplace, needed help. So the Comcast Social Media Analyst organized a relief drive at his office. The Digital Care teams donated approximately 28 cases of water and 100 cans of food, which were distributed across the island by FEMA and Puerto Rico’s government. Carmona’s co-workers could see he wanted to do more for his family, friends, and hometown. They surprised him with nearly $2,000, which Carmona used to buy crucial supplies. He traveled to his hometown, Arroyo, to distribute them. “I had to live without power because my mom’s house still did not have electricity,” Carmona explains. “It just reminded me of the harsh reality others were facing.” Carmona met a generous family of five who was sheltering five displaced neighbors. The family was forced to fetch water of questionable quality from down in a ravine. Carmona gave them a water filter and other supplies. “My teammates are the real heroes here,” says Carmona, expressing gratitude for the chance to help rebuild lives in the wake of the catastrophic storm. “Without them, I wouldn't have been able to give a helping hand.”
Waves of Volunteer Crews Bring Relief to Florida
After the hurricane devastation in Florida, Comcast employees from the Greater Chicago Region leapt at the opportunity to help. Two supervisors and 25 line technicians left to assist with repairs. The crews worked tirelessly for three weeks. When they returned, another team took their place. Efforts to restore service to the region did not stop there. An armada of 60 more technicians reinforced the work these crews started. These travel-weary volunteers were grateful for the experience. Their Florida counterparts and customers welcomed them excitedly. Appreciation followed the crews as they worked to bring normalcy back to devastated areas. Social media lit up with appreciative comments from our customers. Some customers even posed for photos with their volunteer technician.
Record Restoration from Our California Teams
The massive fires of Northern California severed both the primary and the redundant fiber connectivity in our Windsor hub, the local facility that transmits our cable signals to the community. Losing both links is rare. Repairs called for more than just physical labor. The hazardous conditions required research and planning to safely map out a new fiber connection and identify the quickest route to restoration. Daryl Rossi, Mark Locey, and Dan Leggett worked with the construction and technical teams to lead this effort. Thanks to hard work and quick thinking, service was restored to 18,000 customers in just two days. Kevin Sullivan, the Headend Tech for Rohnert Park, was in charge of maintaining and repairing hub equipment. He described the moment: “It was quite uplifting to be in the Windsor hub and see the transmitter lights turn from red to yellow as the fiber splicing was completed one by one.” Kalpa Subramanian, Vice President of Engineering for the California Region, summed up the experience, saying, “While the wildfires were disastrous, our team was resilient and will continue to thrive. I know they will help rebuild lives, rebuild confidence, and restore our plant. I am proud of each and every Comcaster!”
Hundreds of other stories echo those above. We are thankful for all our employees who embody the Comcast NBCUniversal spirit of service in the face of adversity.