Jennifer Matarangas-King, vice president of public relations and governmental affairs at Viya, gave an update on Saturday from on how the company is handling recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma.
The Customer Experience Center on St. Croix is open on Saturday, September 9th with normal operational hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Viya resumes normal operational hours on St. Croix today.
Viya’s Customer Experience Centers in St. Thomas and St. John are closed until further notice due to the severity of the damage on both islands. We will advise the community when we will resume normal operating hours in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
The assessment conducted since the storm reveals that there is a significant number of fallen poles throughout the Territory especially in St. Thomas and St. John. We are asking members of the community to advise us of downed lines in their neighborhoods. Customers should refrain from moving or cutting downed lines on their property or in the vicinity of their homes because they may be active power lines, telephone lines or cable TV lines. This is a severe safety hazard and tampering and or/ cutting Viya’s lines can lead to major communication outages that will directly affect the community and hamper the restoration efforts in your area.
We have a very collaborative relationship with the Virgin Islands WAPA and, prior to the storm, we discussed our companies’ disaster preparedness plans on a regular basis. We began coordinating recovery efforts prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Local and off-island contractors were mobilized and on stand-by in the event of a catastrophe, which Hurricane Irma turned out to be.
Each island was affected by the hurricane differently. At this time the network on St. John, which was hardest hit by Irma is completely out. St. Thomas also received a great deal of devastation and a majority of our subscribers are without service but we have been working through the last few days to restore service as soon as possible. St. Croix received the least damage and at this time the network is operational.
Although we lost cell towers on each island during the hurricane, overall Viya’s wireless service was able to weather the storm and proved to be the most reliable carrier in the Virgin Islands.
For those customers on the Hybrid-Fiber Coaxial network, during a commercial power outage, the eMTA battery back-up for telephone will provide up to eight hours of talk time. Viya urges customers to use telephone service during these times on an as-needed basis. Customers who have generators or a back-up power source will be able to maintain service. It is important for customers to understand that if they do not have an additional battery or a back-up power supply, the use of the telephone should be reserved for emergency purposes only to retain the maximum amount of talk time on the battery. Customers on St. Croix will be able to swap their defective batteries today when the Customer Experience Center opens at 8:00 a.m. at Estate Diamond.
Viya is using all forms of media to keep the public informed. Recently we created a dedicated online Hurricane Information page at www.viya.vi/hurricane. This is an interactive page designed for our employees and the public to post/blog any updates in your neighborhoods or throughout the territory that will be helpful to the community as we move through this storm. If Facebook is your social media favorite, simply post your message and include #hurricane and it will automatically post to www.viya.vi/hurricane. Best of all, these pages are mobile compatible if you do not have direct access to Internet.
Now that the hurricane has passed, for all customer care or service repair issues including outages, customers should call (340) 777-Viya (8492).
Viya reminds its employees and customers that it is important that they tune to local radio stations to stay abreast of updates from the Company.
Viya encourages everyone in the community to be safe and the Viya team will work diligently to restore all services as soon as possible and keep everyone posted on our efforts.
We are thankful for our employees who worked tirelessly before and during the storm. Some Viya personnel, including CEO Alvaro Pilar, were bunkered in the multiple Viya Command Centers during the storm and we applaud their efforts
The Viya team sends prayers and well- wishes to everyone who is facing devastating catastrophes, especially our neighbors in the region and our former sister companies St. Maarten Cable TV and BVI Cable TV.