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October 6, 2005

Hamilton Relay Participates in Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

From: Hamilton Relay - Oct 6, 2005

Aurora, NE, October 6, 2005 - Hamilton Relay Participates in Hurricane Relief Efforts

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have taken a devastating toll on Louisiana as well as many other southern states in the Gulf of Mexico. Hamilton Relay serves thousands of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled in the State of Louisiana, many of whom have been affected by these disasters. Hamilton Relay is offering assistance by providing free specialized telecommunications equipment to those affected and is taking every effort to ensure that evacuees know that there is assistance available to them.

Hamilton Relay Distributes Adaptive Telecommunications Equipment to Hurricane Victims
With the mission of providing communication access to displaced deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled individuals, Hamilton Relay staff members traveled from all across the nation to join forces with colleagues at the Hamilton Relay Call Center in Baton Rouge. In coordination with the National Red Cross, teams reached more than 20 shelters throughout the state of Louisiana, locating and assisting individuals in need.

As the Relay provider for the State of Louisiana, Hamilton Relay shares the goal of alleviating some of the stress and frustration involved with displacement from family, friends and daily life. "It was our desire to assist evacuees in connecting with others so they could begin the process of putting their lives back together," explains Dixie Ziegler, Vice President of Hamilton Relay. Outreach teams were touched by the many stories of people who had been unable to communicate with family members, service providers, and fellow evacuees.

TTYs, Voice-Carry-Over equipment, and videophones were distributed to shelters and individuals at no cost (recipients will retain the equipment). Generous donations of equipment from the states of Maine, Montana and Kentucky contributed to the success of this effort. Hamilton Relay added to the equipment distribution from its inventory, and the distribution of equipment will continue in collaboration with the Catholic Deaf Center and Deaf Action Center in Baton Rouge.

Hamilton Relay is working closely with the National Red Cross to provide training in supporting people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled in the midst of an emergency. This collaboration will ensure that the needs of deaf, hard of hearing and speech-disabled individuals are included in emergency relief efforts in the future.

Hamilton Relay provides additional resources
Hamilton teams also provided interpreting services at the shelters and the Catholic Deaf Center. This service was provided at no cost and will continue to be offered as needed.

As Hamilton Relay teams visited shelters, they provided writing pads and pens to individuals, as well as shelter personnel, enabling communication in daily exchanges. Hamilton teams also distributed stamped postcards to assist with written communication to family or friends across the country.

In cooperation with Gifts in Kind, Hamilton Relay is also distributing hearing aid batteries at shelters. Gifts in Kind's generous donation will meet the needs of individuals who rely on hearing aids to assist in communication.

Materials were left behind with shelter managers, providing contact information for Louisiana Relay Service staff to ensure ongoing assistance with communication access. Additionally, large signs were posted at shelters allowing individuals to find the communication assistance they need.

Hamilton Relay contributes financially to relief efforts

Hamilton Relay has made financial contributions to:

* Louisiana School for the Deaf Hurricane Relief Fund
* National Association of the Deaf Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
* Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
* Sponsorship of a Katrina Relief Benefit Dinner & Show in collaboration with the Wisconsin and Madison Associations of the Deaf

Hamilton Relay Baton Rouge Call Center
Hamilton Relay's Baton Rouge Call Center provided service throughout both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. "Our employees have done extraordinary things to ensure continuous call processing. We have had employees remaining in our call center to ensure they could process calls the next day in case roads were not passable. Our employees in Nebraska and Wisconsin have also worked many extra hours to ensure all relay calls were processed. Our technical team kept all equipment operational. It truly has been a team effort," said Ziegler.

Hamilton Relay continues to assess the needs of the communities which they serve, and will continue to respond as needed.

For more information or requests for assistance, individuals can contact Hamilton Relay Customer Service at 800-618-4781 TTY/voice or send an email to

About Hamilton
Hamilton offers a variety of features and services to further enhance relay communication including Internet Relay, Video Relay, Wireless Relay and CapTel. All services are available at Hamilton also provides traditional relay services to nine states, the District of Columbia, the Island of Saipan and the Virgin Islands. Established in 1901, Hamilton also provides local telephone and cable television service, call center services, Internet services, computer sales, network integration and much more to customers in Nebraska and across the country.

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