Charter kicks in $350K in Harvey relief, free public service ads

An aerial view shows significant damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Rockport, Texas.
Charter is also offering $1 million in public service announcements to air at no cost to assist with fundraising and awareness efforts.

Charter Communications today announced that it’s contributing $350,000 to Rebuild Together, a charity effort quickly assembled to rebuild homes and communities in flood-ravaged regions of Houston severely damaged this week by Hurricane Harvey. 

The No. 2 cable operator, which has extensive footprint in the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U.S., alongside Comcast, is billing its contribution as a $1.35 million effort. It’s also donating what it says is $1 million worth of free public service advertising to organizations leading the relief and recovery efforts in the southeast Texas region. 

Charter services around 2.3 million customers in Texas. 

"Charter serves hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents and businesses, and we are determined to aid the extraordinary rebuilding effort needed as a result of Harvey," said Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter Communications, in a statement. "Through Spectrum Housing Assist, our flagship philanthropic initiative, and our partnership with Rebuilding Together, this contribution serves as an extension of Charter’s longstanding multimillion-dollar commitment to improving the communities where our customers and employees live and work. Our thoughts are with the people and the communities throughout the Gulf Coast who have been impacted by this disaster."

The cable operator’s relief effort follows a commitment made several days ago by Comcast, which gave $500,000 to be split between Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the American Red Cross.

Verizon also put forth a package that it valued at $10 million. That included free data and voice usage for affected customers, as well as financial assistance for impacted employees. No specific cash donations were called out in the Verizon announcement, however. 

If telecom companies are being slightly coy about their relief charity accounting, it’s far more difficult to get a bead on how much operational recovery for their own systems will set them back. A Comcast spokesperson told FierceCable that the company doefsn't even have an estimate yet in terms of operational recovery cost. MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett also said his firm hasn't yet compiled such data. 

As flood waters finally began to recede, Comcast started to deploy hundreds of tech workers into areas that had clear roads and restored electrical power. These areas included Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Fort Bend, Harris, Liberty and Montgomery Counties, the operator said. 

“The assessment of Comcast facilities, services and network continues in high-impacted areas as flood waters recede,” the company said in a statement. “Comcast is working diligently to restore service to all impacted customers as quickly and safely as possible.”