Florida city turns to AT&T, FirstNet for connectivity during aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Published: October 26th, 2018 | Urgent Communications

Officials in Panama City Beach, Fla., relied on AT&T FirstNet for communications in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which caused outages in the jurisdiction’s broadband and LMR systems, according to City Manager Mario Gisbert.

“The day after the storm, we found out that we had basically no phone service through the current carrier that we have, which is Verizon,” Gisbert said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Having that knowledge, we found out that AT&T phones were functional, because my mayor and one of my council members both had AT&T phones. So, we quickly started to augment our system with AT&T burner phones, AT&T cards and AT&T phones.

“Being able to communicate after not having any lines of communication for three days was very helpful. All of the backups initiated by FirstNet and AT&T, so they could survive the storm, is what really helped us out, in that there was still a functioning system left.”

Panama City Beach was not an AT&T or FirstNet customer when Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle city during middle of the day on Wednesday, Oct. 10, Gisbert said. Although Panama City Beach “was really spared the brunt of the storm,” the city’s Verizon service continued to work that evening, but that changed quickly, he said.

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