Phone service provider keeps fleet underground - KCTV5

In case of emergency, phone service provider keeps fleet underground

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LEE'S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) -

When severe weather hits, many turn to cell phones if they need help.

At times having cell service can be a matter of life and death and one company is making sure it can quickly restore service if it goes down.

Verizon Wireless keeps its emergency fleet in a cave. The cave's location is top secret because of the millions of dollars in equipment it holds, but they offered KCTV5 a tour.

Sixty feet of rock keeps Verizon Wireless' millions of dollars of high-tech emergency equipment for the whole region safe.

"All of our equipment used to sit in a parking lot out in Lee's Summit and we realized after several weather events that we were vulnerable," said Tony LaRose, the operations manager for the region.

Verizon moved into the 10,000-square-foot metro cave last year. The equipment inside is invaluable after a natural disaster so they can't risk it being destroyed in one.

One truck is a portable cell tower. If a tower goes down, crews drive it in and they can have cell service and the internet up in three hours.

The trucks went to Joplin, MO, and Moore, OK, to restore cell phone signals and help FEMA after tornadoes struck each area.

"One of those instances could have happened where they were out in the parking lot and we would have lost them," LaRose said.

The cave, located about 60 feet underground, doesn't just provide shelter from a storm for the trucks, but peace of mind for customers.

"People want to get a hold of their families. They want to be able to use that and they need to be able to use it and we understand that and want to be there for him," LaRose said.

Other major cell phone service providers like AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile each have response and recovery teams to restore service to customers during an emergency.

Verizon's may be the first one to secure their equipment in a cave.

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