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Hurricane Crisis Response Actions

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When Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico in 2017, the entire island was without electricity. Cable and telephone lines went silent. Cell towers were destroyed. Businesses and residents were left without reliable communications. 

One of my clients, a big-box warehouse store, has four locations on the island. They, like many other businesses there, relied on wireline Internet connections, so when the storm hit and the communications infrastructure was destroyed, they were in trouble. 

This client provides stable items to sustain life. For many of those impacted by Maria, these stores were the only place to get critical items like medicine and water. Driven by the urgency to help, the client reached out to Hughes for a network solution capable of getting these stores up and operating immediately.

We knew it would be a challenge because our installers in Puerto Rico had lost everything. There would be no supplies or resources on the island, so we needed to mobilize a team and send help from the States, and everything we designed would have to be self-contained. We designed a satellite network from scratch, packed it up, and had it on a plane in only four days, and because there would be no communication from the mainland, our installer would be completely on his own. He would have to configure and test each site install without any of the usual assistance from our network support team. 

With each passing day, the situation in Puerto Rico worsened. Residents needed water, they needed food, they needed medicine and fuel, and to be able to communicate with their loved ones in the outside world. 

We knew we had to make this happen fast. Installing a network typically takes a day per location, but this wasn't a typical job: Lives were at stake. Our installer took off-road vehicles into flooded, dangerous conditions and installed three satellite locations in just one day. Then, once conditions allowed safe travel, he was able to reach the last site and complete the install two days later.

Hughes maintained a presence in Puerto Rico for months, and our network is still in place. Should another storm hit, that client will be able to keep its stores open and continue to serve the needs of its local customers and communities. 

Focusing on client success is built into all we do at Hughes. Our support to our client with the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico made a real difference in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Maria. I am so proud of our team's work and willingness to go the extra mile for our customers.