GATR Deployment: Day 2 (9/22/2008)

The day began in a hurry-up-and-wait mode.  The people at the courthouse wanted us to deploy with the FEMA group at the American Legion building.  There was a lot going on and FEMA wasn’t moving from the courthouse anytime soon.  I got tired of waiting on them, so I went and set up the 2.4m antenna in an open spot behind the AL building.  Here are a few pictures showing the stages of setup. 

 

 

 

 

 

I was set up on the Horizons-2 (74-W) satellite by noon.  For the next four hours I waited for FEMA to show up.  I went inside the AL building to see if anyone could use free wireless access.  The American Red Cross is operating this site providing food, washing machines, and bedding for over 50 people.  There were some FEMA employees inside the building.  They were trying to access the web through aircards, and weren’t very successful.  Most of the cell towers were damaged and cold only provide limited coverage of the area.  They were able to upload many of their forms through the wireless link.  Other than that it was pretty slow.  Here are three of my new friends (George, Trey, and JaCorey).  They were staying in the shelter and really wanted to check their myspace pages. 

 

 

There were a lot of people that stop by to ask what that “balloon lookin thing” is (pretty standard question for us).  The sheriff and his wife came by and asked if they could bring their laptop back to check email. 

 

At five PM, I was met by Philip Wilson, a volunteer from Mission Aviation Fellowship.  His is a volunteer that is trained at providing technology solution to devastated areas.  He is a really sharp guy that has responded and volunteered at disasters all over the world.  That evening we spent about an hour talking with the water truck driver who said we couldn’t leave until after he left because he was using our wifi to surf the web in his truck.  Interesting fellow – he drives around 250K miles per year.  That’s one tough job.  Anyway, tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.  I hope we can make a greater contribution to the relief effort.

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4 Comments

Filed under GATR

4 responses to “GATR Deployment: Day 2 (9/22/2008)

  1. Danielle

    Did you offer your successful technology for FEMA employees to use? If they were using a different system than you were and yours was successful, showing them could result in improved methods in the future…not to mention they could’ve had the technology they needed to communicate the needs of your area to the people who could help.
    I’m currently going through FEMA training and working with people on a state preparedness level and I can honestly say that they are very open to ideas as to how to be more successful. Post-Katrina, bureacratic relief efforts get a continually bad name, but there’s lot of good that could result from trying to work with them, rather than reference them as the cause of all that’s going wrong.
    In the end, no matter what organization or department you’re part of, it’s working together as a community that makes the difference in rebuilding.

  2. jdinsmore04

    Cool stuff Larry.

    Do you foresee a smaller, personal antenna that the general public could buy? Anything so that I don’t have to use Charter.

  3. Pingback: FEMA blog… « DanielleReeves’s Weblog

  4. sigmugi

    Danielle,

    I obviously didn’t articulate my mission very well. GATR was contacted by officials in Chambers County to help federal organizations with their comms. The FEMA people at the courthouse were slammed with regional requests. I wanted to go get the system set up and checked out. There were FEMA guys inside the shelter run by the Red Cross. I let them know that there was a high speed wireless option instead of just relying on the aircards. They were very appreciative. Other than those three guys, there were not many others in need of our system at this location. FEMA did show up yesterday in their mobile recovery vehicle. Pretty sweet setup. Again, I do not want anyone to think that I am denegrating FEMA. They are doing great things in this community and they have a lot of logistics they have to coordinate that most people are not aware of. We have made some good friends with the FEMA folks in this region. We are here to help, not compete!

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