Hurricane Florence Response

8 October – IEEE-USA’s MOVE team has completed its deployment for Hurricane Florence Disaster Recovery and Relief. Thank you to John Balsam, Jay Diepenbrock, Brian Greene, Grayson Randall, and Tim Forrest for their sacrifices and tireless efforts. The MOVE truck is back in Durham, NC and the team is closely monitoring Hurricane Michael at this time.

Thank you to everyone who supported and followed the team. They supported 3 district offices and 4 client shelters with power, network support, and internet….. impacting many 1000’s of people in dire need.

You can help – MOVE is funded by donations like yours. Your support is greatly appreciated. Please consider helping the MOVE Community Outreach program by donating to the cause.

Interested in volunteering? Please visit our volunteer information page.

Tree -1, House – 0

7 October – The MOVE team has been asked to remain in Wilmington, NC for the time being because a large apartment complex has been closed due to mold issues. Due to a large number of people affected… the Red Cross is concerned they might need to open an additional shelter and would like the MOVE truck to be available to assist. Even after the long period of time since landfall, shelter populations continue to vary wildly. IEEE MOVE is proud to help with relief operations.

MOVE is monitoring hurricane Michael at this time.

6 October  – District HQ had a network fail today. They called us to assist. We found a double failure… which is difficult to debug. The team was able to assist in stabilizing the network. Great team effort. A lot of important work at headquarters is affected when the network is down. The MOVE truck continues to run 24/7 supplying internet to the shelter residents.

5 October – Tim Forrest went home for the weekend to work on the damage around his home. Brian Greene is here to fill in. The team monitored the network which is up 24/7 here and helped a partner agency with laptop issues.
Tomorrow Brian and Grayson Randall will set up a Red Cross satellite system to replace the truck internet. Looks like Monday the Red Cross MIGHT release the MOVE truck from this disaster response.

4 October – The team continued to provide internet access to the Wilmington shelter today. There are still a great many people displaced and in shelters and the team is happy to assist them.

Lights on for safety – Wilmington, NC

3 October – The team continued to supply internet access to the shelter residents today. In the last 5 days, they transferred 46 GB of data to 314 devices. Today the team also supplied power to the dining area in the tent. The MOVE crew has been running their generator 24/7 since Saturday (250 hours of generator time since they left Durham). As such, it was now time for a regular service call. Special thank you to Advanced Maintenance for coming to the shelter and changing the oil on such short notice. The generator was only offline about 40 minutes during the oil change. MOVE was able to continue to provide internet service as our equipment ran off batteries and solar.

This evening the team were moved to another shelter where they parked at the main entrance. The truck’s outside scene lights are illuminating the area near the shelter for safety. Client internet access has been set up here as well.

2 OctoberHappy IEEE Day! One of the advantages of the MOVE truck is its ability to quickly relocate and provide immediate service. This was evidenced today as the team packed up the shelter in Wilmington, NC and moved it to a new location in Leland, NC. It is a big job to move people, their belongings, cots, tons of supplies, as well as a large staff … for a shelter with hundreds of people. The MOVE team had their equipment up and running a couple of hours after shutting down in Wilmington. Everyone was glad the team was able to continue to assist. Providing internet helps the relief staff feel connected and it reduces the stress of the shelter clients.

Many battery chargers were passed out today. People are excited to get them as many of the volunteer’s phones were dead…. for a number of different reasons.

1 October – The MOVE truck has been running 24/7 since midday Saturday. All systems have operated without incident. Over 30 GB of data has been transferred lots of battery chargers have been distributed to Red Cross volunteers and first responders.

Tomorrow the shelter is moving…. so the equipment will be taken down and the team will move the required equipment to the new shelter.

Hoggard High School – Wilmington, NC

30 September – Brian and Jay finished their deployments and were replaced by Grayson Randall and Tim Forrest.

The team is running 24/7, providing power and internet (We have transferred approximately 16.6 GB of data in the last 28 hours),…. but it is rumored the shelter will close on Tuesday so the school can get ready to reopen. That would mean that the team will take all Red Cross equipment down and will set it up again at a new location.

Special Thank You to Jay Diepenbrock, Brian Greene, and John Balsam for all their contributions the last several weeks: Fayetteville, Lumberton, Greenville, Newport, and Wilmington.

29 September – The fiber network connection at HQ was provisioned, and Brian switched the network over to the fiber link, which significantly improved the speed and reliability of Internet access for the facility.  The MOVE team continued doing DST work, including DST equipment at Dist. 6 HQ and helping staff with user login/password and Microsoft office problems.  The team then moved to the shelter at Hoggard High School, where they Installed two IEEE access points for clients and one Red Cross access point for staff use, and supported network access with the MOVE truck satellite equipment and Cisco Meraki network switch.  The team was assisted by Earl Voorhis and Stan Thompson, DST staff, in terminating and three long Ethernet cables into the school building for this.  The MOVE truck also provided power for the lights in the Red Cross shower trailer when their diesel generator failed. 

28 September – Today, Jay assisted various staff members with computer and phone issues, including one user with RC Collect data file location error.  Brian arranged for access to the building wiring closets and worked with the Verizon installation technician who was installing the fiber connection to the headquarters office.  Jay and Brian pulled two Cat 5e cables from floor 1 to floor 3 of the building to connect the new fiber service.  Jay and Brian went to the Hoggard High School shelter resolve a printing problem.  The team continued to support staff members with computer and phone problems including installing Waze on a staff phone, helping with Microsoft Office, and other tasks.  The MOVE team gave tours of the truck to Red Cross Staff –  Virginia Mewborn (Job Director), Chuck Delaune (Senior Director, Disaster Technology), Harvey Johnson, Vic Hencken, his Volunteer Partner Coordinator, and several staffers.  Harvey was very interested in the truck’s capabilities as well as the deployment decision process to maximize utilization.

27 September – On Thursday, Jay set up two other DST team members to charge and update another 20 Verizon cell phones.  The team then took the MOVE truck to Shallotte to deliver a computer, cell phone, and printer to a shelter.  They had originally planned to provide Internet access for the shelter clients but were unable to get close enough to the building due to low-hanging trees on the dirt access road. They then took some time out to test amateur HF and VHF radios and an ERV radio at the Wilmington chapter office where they also assisted multiple staff members with printing questions or problems.  The network at headquarters continued to experience problems due to the ViaSat modem resetting every night due to updates and unstable performance of the network switch.

26 September – Today Jay Diepenbrock and Brian Greene took the MOVE truck to Wilmington NC.
John Balsam and Grayson Randall returned to Raleigh. John is headed back to Atlanta Ga. completing his deployment. John was a great asset to the team on his first deployment.

Grayson will have a few days off and return on Sunday (along with another trained volunteer) to relieve Jay and Brian who will complete their deployments. Special thanks to the entire team for their efforts supporting the Hurricane Florence disaster response.

After arriving from Greenville, the MOVE team (Jay and Brian) checked in at District 6 Headquarters in Wilmington.  The building had power and the DST team had previously set up a ViaSat system, so the functions of the MOVE truck were not needed.  However, the site had been experiencing ongoing network performance problems, so the team did some reconfiguration to try to improve it.  In the meantime, they were asked to charge, reset, and update 20 AT&T and four Verizon cell phones that were not ready to be issued to the relief staff.  The team ran Ethernet cable for the Job Director’s Mac (who could not connect to the network with her Mac), and assisted staff members with various computer settings and printing problems. Tours of the truck to approx. 10 staffers.

The IEEE Hurricane Florence MOVE team (from left to right): Brian Greene, Grayson Randall, John Balsam, and Jay Diepenbrock

Newport, NC – Sept. 25 (Brian Greene)

25 September – The MOVE team monitored the shelter equipment in Newport today. This afternoon they checked out the damage along some areas of the coast  (some building damage… but the majority of the damage was trees down).

Tim Forrest and Brian Greene did some maintenance on our satellite dish and we had some on the job training for the team.

Tomorrow the MOVE truck will head to Wilmington NC.

24 September – Today the team picked up equipment in Greenville and delivered it to a shelter in Newport, NC. where they configured a laptop, printer, and internet communications. This will allow the relief workers to access necessary Red Cross cloud-based applications.

Havelock and Newport have significant damage. Lots of wind damage. Power is still out in much of these communities and east of here. Trees are down everywhere and a lot of buildings are badly damaged. The team will be staying at the shelter tonight and will get a new assignment tomorrow.

23 September – Saturday, the team spent the day at district 2 HQ. They helped resolve some network configuration issues. The team helped set up a 2nd satellite dish on the roof to increase the capacity of the office. They found a piece of equipment with an intermittent failure. The problem was hard to find, but causing a lot of issues. The IEEE MOVE volunteers were able to isolate to stabilize the network.

22 September – Friday, the team we spent the day delivering internet to a disaster shelter in Lumberton NC. The shelter had approximately 250 people. They provided internet to 166 unique users who transferred 20.1 GB of data over the 23 hours that service was provided. The shelter staff said the internet brightened the spirits of the entire shelter. The data was available from our Cisco Meraki networking system donated by our corporate sponsor Cisco.

MOVE Providing WiFi access at Lumberton Sr. High

Late Friday afternoon, the team was requested to respond to Greenville NC to assist a district office with some networking issues. District offices are the hub for service delivery to the public. It is key they have connectivity necessary to coordinate all their services. The drive to Greenville was long as there are over 250 road closures due to flooding including I-95 and I-40, the 2 main interstates in southeast NC. Turned out WAZE had the best travel information.

20 SeptemberMOVE relocates and provides much-needed internet access

Today, the new district office was stable with a  normal level of activity. The IEEE MOVE team has now moved the truck to Lumberton NC. This area has been hard hit with flooding. This shelter has about 250 people displaced by the flooding. They have power and cell phone service… but no internet. The team stepped in and is now providing WiFi for the people staying there. In the first 3 hours of services,  69 users logged on and used about 1.6GB of data. The team was told that there are many students in the shelter who need the internet to do their classwork.

Hopefully, the IEEE has made their lives a little easier!

19 September – New tables and chairs finally arrived and the new, headquarters was packed with people today. Our communications systems worked well!

18 September – Today, the team completed preparations in order to move the district headquarters from the hotel to the new, larger facility. When they arrived 5 days ago, the temporary HQ at the hotel had around 25 people. Today they have over 100 volunteers and many more arriving every day. Tomorrow morning everyone will report to the new facility. Thanks to the hard work of many.. they are ready to continue our mission without missing a beat.

John Balsam

John Balsam had the hardest job today… terminating cat 5 network cables that were pulled (a painstaking task). We believe he did 20 connectors with no failures. Great job John!

The team also completed the installation of a 2nd satellite dish to back up the primary system.

Travel in eastern NC is extremely difficult. Anticipated tables and chairs did not arrive today from Atlanta as the trucks were unable to find a route. Many of the Red Cross volunteers are being moved to shelters by national guard high water trucks…. some by helicopter. Tomorrow MOVE volunteers will help get everyone transitioned to our new HQ and then install communications in a warehouse and another Red Cross facility.

Brian Greene and John Balsam

17 September – The team continued to set up the new Headquarters location. Accomplishments included installing a large printer and setting up a satellite dish on the roof of the building to support communications.

Jay Diepenbrock joined the team here in Fayetteville today. We now have 4 IEEE and 2 Red Cross volunteers supporting the site technology.

16 September – Another busy day, heavy rains most of the day….Winds are mostly gone. Today the team started setting up our new HQ facility. Power finally came back on in the late morning.

JR (Red Cross) and John Balsam went to Raleigh to pick up additional equipment from DRO/HQ. Brian Greene and Grayson Randall worked with 2 local volunteers to run cat 5 network cables and power to support 100 Red Cross volunteers projected to work in this office. Lorraine (Red Cross) stayed at the current office to support current volunteers.

Our team of 5 is tasked with setting up the communications infrastructure needed for laptops, phones, printers, and network/satellite communications. They were able set up all this in a couple of days in an empty building.

The team’s district (1 of 5) has 44(?) shelters open to provide food and shelter for those in need. Providing resources required by shelters is very difficult as roads are dynamically closing due to flooding and resource availability is constantly changing. The work the IEEE team is doing in conjunction with our Red Cross partner makes it possible for coordination of this difficult disaster relief operation.

14 September – At-a-glance storm update from

  • Hurricane Florence has knocked out power to more than 500,000 homes and businesses statewide.
  • Major structural damage has been reported to homes and businesses in Onslow County.
  • Some 150 people stranded in storm surge were awaiting rescue in New Bern early Friday morning.
  • About 12,000 people are in 126 evacuation shelters, state officials said.

13 September – The MOVE team is currently at a hotel in Fayetteville, NC. For the next few days, this will be a district headquarters until the storm passes. The storm has slowed down, but we are still expecting winds in excess of 60 with gusts over 100mph. The team is currently supporting the Red Cross with network connectivity, laptops, phones, and printers.

12 September – The MOVE truck will be deployed after hurricane Florence landfall as soon as it is safe to enter the area. We expect to be somewhere on the coast where significant damage to the infrastructure is expected. This is dynamic and will be defined as the storm progresses.

  • Grayson Randall (NC), Brian Greene (YP), John Balsam (Atlanta), will be deploying with the truck.
  • Jay Diepenbrock deployed with the EOC (Emergency Operations Center).
  • David Wright assisted in some final setup of the MOVE truck in preparation for deployment. Thanks!

10 September – Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and will likely strike the east coast as a major hurricane (category 3 or 4) later this week. Life-threatening storm surge, destructive winds, electrical outages, and major rainfall flooding are expected.

The MOVE team is closely monitoring this situation and is preparing to respond.

If you are in the path of this major hurricane, please take the appropriate steps to stay safe:

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You Can Help

MOVE is funded by donations like yours. Your support is greatly appreciated. Please consider helping the MOVE Community Outreach program by donating to the cause.

Interested in volunteering? Please visit our volunteer information page.