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GTE KEEPS EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS 'TALKING AND THIRST-FREE'; PROVIDES SOME FREE PHONE SERVICES, WATER TO HIGH-DESERT AREA

       GTE KEEPS EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS 'TALKING AND THIRST-FREE';
    PROVIDES SOME FREE PHONE SERVICES, WATER TO HIGH-DESERT AREA
    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- To assist earthquake victims in the High Desert area of San Bernardino County, GTE California today said it is waiving phone relocation and reconnection charges for displaced customers.
    And to help families whose water sources have been disrupted or contaminated by the earthquakes, GTE is using three 4,000-gallon water trucks to bring water to High Desert communities of Yucca Valley, Pioneer Town and the mesa.
    "Our first water truck came last night from Palm Springs.  And two more are coming today from Indio and Redlands," said Lisa Paprocki, Morongo Basin division public affairs manager.
    "The water departments with 'good water' are letting us fill up our trucks and deliver water to people in need.  We plan to continue this until normal water services are restored."
    For customers whose phone service has been disrupted by the recent disaster, GTE will move their phone service to another location at no charge.
    Guidelines include:
    -- The customer must relocate within GTE's serving area.
    -- The "no charge" for the temporary move includes one phone number.
    -- GTE will honor the no-charge installation both to a temporary location and back to the original location, provided the customer returns to the original site within one year.
    "As business returns to normal, we'll also provide customers displaced by the quakes with free remote call-forwarding for one phone line," Paprocki said.
    "This means they can forward calls from their normal phone line to another.


This will enable physicians, dentists and small businesses whose buildings are uninhabitable to receive their calls and keep in touch with their patients and clients."
    Since the 7.4 earthquake struck the High Desert on June 28, those communities have been experiencing ongoing aftershocks.
    "We're continuing to feel about two aftershocks per hour," Paprocki said.
    "However, our network and switching centers here and throughout the company have continued to provide telephone service.
    "And we're very grateful that we've had no employee deaths or injuries."
    To assist in providing emergency communications, GTE has installed 30 emergency lines in the governor's State Emergency Service Center in Ontario, two lines in each of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office in Joshua Tree and the Landers Fire Dept., as well as 13 lines for the Yucca Valley California Dept. of Forestry.
    Ten of those 13 lines were installed in the La Contenta Jr. High School by the YVCDF to set up a cross-command center in Yucca Valley.
    GTE will continue to work closely with local and state emergency agencies and other utilities.
    "After the Sylmar earthquake in the 1970s, GTE reinforced all of its switching centers with special earthquake bracing," Paprocki said.
    "This bracing withstood the recent earthquakes and aftershocks, as well as the Palm Springs quake in April.  This preparation has protected our telephone network and kept our customers talking," she said.
    GTE, headquartered in Thousand Oaks, serves more than 3 million customers in 330 communities throughout California.
    -0-                    7/1/92
    /CONTACT:  Larry Cox of GTE California, 800-227-5556 (24-hour newsline)/ CO:  GTE California ST:  California IN:  TLS SU: AL-EH -- LA032 -- 5969 07/01/92 19:48 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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