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Pallone Presses for Improved Communications During Emergencies

January 20, 2016
Press Release

Joined Local & Federal Officials to Discuss Plan to Make Networks More Resilient

WOODBRIDGE, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) joined with federal and local officials at the Woodbridge Community Center to highlight the importance of having resilient communications networks, especially during emergencies.  He discussed his legislation, the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act – or the SANDy Act – which would help to ensure that cellular, television, and 9-1-1 services continue to operate, even when unexpected storms or disasters strike.

“These days, we are more connected than ever before, which means we are also more reliant on communications networks, especially during emergencies,” said Congressman Pallone.  “Fewer and fewer families have land line phones in their homes, so we count on our cell phones working.  We need to be able to call for help and reach loved ones to make sure they are safe during hurricanes like Sandy or during snow storms like the one we are expecting this weekend.”

Congressman Pallone was joined today by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and first responders at the Woodbridge Community Center, which is the federally designated Regional Emergency Evacuation and Medical Center in time of disaster.   Congressman Pallone also toured the Woodbridge OEM Emergency Operations Vehicle, a mobile command post for emergency events.  

“When the unthinkable occurs, reliable communications matters,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.  “Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy demonstrated this with painful clarity.  Now we need to take the lessons learned in the aftermath of this storm and make our networks more resilient—and our communities more safe.”

When Hurricane Sandy ripped through New Jersey three years ago, nearly one in four cell towers were knocked out.  In some of the hardest hit areas of the state, as many as half of the towers went down – many of them stayed down for weeks.

Since he became the top Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone has redoubled his efforts to make sure that never happens again.  As part of his effort, Pallone held a Superstorm Sandy Field Forum in September with local officials, industry leaders and senior FirstNet representatives to take a critical look at lessons learned and progress made with public safety telecommunications since the hurricane.