GATR Deployment: Day 3 (9/23/2008)

Let me start by thanking Danielle for her comments on my last post.  She is in training to take a job with FEMA.  I hope my last post did not come across as denigrating FEMA in anyway.  They are in this area and working very hard to assess damage and get housing assistance to those in need.  We are here with an ad hoc satcom network capability trying to provide internet and voip phone to any agency (local, state, federal) that needs it.  Danielle has additional comments on her blog. 


The GATR system ran off our little generator all night.  Pressures looked good, antenna was anchored well, and the modem was running.  We had the wireless internet working, but the voip phone capability required one more piece of hardware that one of the MAF guys was bringing.  


The FEMA mobile recovery unit showed up around 9AM.  They have an RV with a small satellite dish on top to provide their own network for phone and web access.  We helped them get chair and tables set up.  The mobile unit is set up with a bank of phones for people to talk to FEMA representatives about housing assistance and property damage.  Their mobile unit is self contained.  Some of the people used our wireless (FEMA, rightfully so, does not offer public web access).  We talked to the FEMA IT guy about our disaster relief solution.  He was really impressed with the technology.  He took my contact info and said he was going to try to get us hooked up with the FEMA technology folks.  We would love to demo our system to other FEMA officials.



Now that FEMA is here with their self-contained mobile system, we were not adding much value to the situation.  The GATR system really needs to be out on the fringes were the infrastructure is severely reduce or gone.  The power came back to this area around 7PM.  There are many, many needs that remain in Anahuac, but Satcom internet and voip are not one of them.  I called my contact at HISG to ask him if there were any other areas that are in need to communications, maybe those closer to Galveston.  He said he was going to contact other groups in the more devastated areas and get back with me.  He was planning on being in Anahuac tomorrow morning, so we decided we would make a plan then.  This is good.  It gives us time to get our entire network up and running.  Caleb Pal, with MAF joined us last night.  He brought a Cisco router and three Voip phones.  We should have a full disaster relief system running tomorrow once we get everything configured.


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