Smith Point is a small community on the bay. A majority of the population is Hispanic, and the rest are cattle ranchers and retirees (most teachers from public schools). Phil, Caleb, and I spent the night in the firehouse with Lois. She is a lady in her 70s that loves to talk. We worked until about 12:30AM getting the antenna deployed and the wireless and voip phone system working. We woke up at 7AM. About five people in the community brought their laptops in to check email. At 9AM seven people from Alltel (FEMA) showed up. We got them configured on a secure wireless network. The people of the community started rolling in. FEMA needed interpreters to help with the registrations process. A few of the community ladies at the firehouse went out and recruited a college girl and a high school girl (school doesn’t start back until next week). These girls were a huge help. Red Cross delivered lunch at 11:30AM. This brought a large crowd in to register with FEMA. (The FEMA folks did not want to be photographed, so one of them stood up and visually blocked the other employees.)
Two of the voip phones worked right off the bat. The two CISCO phones had some issues working with the Digium box. Caleb spent about an hour with the service provider and with the tech help at Digium. He got the problem figured out. All four phones could dial out. We are a lot closer to having a disaster relief kit for the next disaster deployments. There are a few other pieces that we need to add including: analog phone line (FEMA property assessment touch pads with only connect through analog phone line) and a higher gain antenna and a telescoping tower to provide wifi over a greater geographic area. The experience we are getting exercising the system in disaster areas is invaluable.
The clients for FEMA slowed down after lunch. They left at 5:00PM. The plan was to leave the GATR system in Smith Point. Half of the FEMA team was headed to Oak Island. The FEMA mobile RV was moving from Anahuac to Oak Island to support the group there. We enjoyed the rest of the evening getting to know the people of Smith Point. We spent an hour after dinner getting their satellite internet hooked up. One person grabbed the antenna, cables, and modem from their house before the storm hit. The antenna was put up on a metal fence post. We used our Spectrum Analyzer to get the antenna pointed properly. This will be connected to a wireless AP once we leave. The firehouse/community center is the gathering place for the town. The people there are very supportive of one another.
Someone brought a small grey kitten up to the firehouse. It was found floating on a piece of wood. Lois was pushing the cat on me and Caleb. The cat jumped from cot to cot all night picking at our heads. I am not too keen on driving 12 hours with a little kitty picking at my head. Someone else will give “Ike” a home.