Alabama Tornado Response

20 March – (Day 16) Last day for this disaster relief operation (DRO). The infrastructure is stable, the replacement team been trained, and the truck is packed.

Hope to see some of you at the Atlanta Science Festival in Piedmont Park this Saturday.


18 March – (Day 14) – Another steady day of service. The MOVE truck was run entirely on solar power today (It was a nice sunny day and the temperature was in the low 60’s). The truck operated from 9 am to 7 pm without the need for the generator. The team did not use the air conditioning and supported all communications (as well as the TV) via the power of the sun!


17 March – The MOVE truck’s network continues to be stable and the team is currently providing internet access via a private network for relief workers as well as a private network for the Red Cross and another public wifi network for the other participating agencies and the general public. Good data rates all day. Thank you to our sponsor Cisco Meraki or donating the system we use to manage all our internet traffic. In addition, to providing internet access, the team continued to provide IT support to relief workers.


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.


14 March – (Day 10) Today, John Balsam, Butch Shadwell, and Grayson Randall set up the infrastructure in order to support the MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center). John spent the morning on a ladder and the team ran several long cable runs. After getting the internet running, they set up laptops and a printer.  Special thank you to John Balsam (who left for Atlanta this afternoon) for his hard work during his 10 days of deployment.  He spent a lot of time on ladders running cables and supporting the volunteers.


13 March – (Day 9)  Today, the team loaded up IEEE-USA’s MOVE truck with equipment and went to the location of a MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center). Upon arrival. they scoped out the facility layout and assessed where the power was located, and how to enable communications in this empty building.

Tomorrow, the team will set up power and internet to support first responder laptops, phones, and printers. The public is invited to come to meet with all the participating agencies.

“Butch” Shadwell

The team also worked at DRO-HQ with the phone company as they are bringing a fiber line into the headquarters. (They brought in the fiber from a couple of blocks away… stringing it up on the telephone poles). The line is active, but the modem needs to be configured. The hope is to have fiber-based internet running soon.

Percy ‘Butch’ Shadwell joined the team today. He is replacing John Balsam who is returning to Atlanta to make arrangements for MOVE at the Atlanta Science Festival. Thank you to John, Butch, and the many behind the scene volunteers who have supported this deployment. The MOVE program has truly had a significant impact on this community.


12 March – (Day 8) Today, the team inspected a possible facility for a MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center). This a place where multiple local, state, and federal agencies set up so people affected by the disaster can come to a single place to get available services. The MOVE team will assist in setting up power, communications, laptops, and printers as well as provide internet access for everyone.


10 March – Day 6 was a short working day (1pm to 5pm). The IEEE-USA MOVE truck was setup and provided internet service to entire HQ (transferred about 10 GB of data on a short day). The team continued to support the volunteers that needed help with printing and data access. There are discussions about moving the truck to Beauregard, AL to assist with client support. However, there is still need to establish reliable communications at HQ when not connected to the MOVE truck.


9 March – Day 5 was a generally quiet day. This disaster relief operation is getting organized and most of the volunteers are already here. There were only some general support issues. The bad weather concerns for this weekend were avoided as the storms were west and north of our location (Did not even rain today). We ran all internet traffic over the MOVE satellite dish again today (131 devices used about 12 GB of data). The cell towers are inconsistent and unreliable for data transfer. The team is in the process of installing an internet line in the building so that the MOVE truck can be utilized at another service location.


8 March – (Day 4) After some network issues early in the day, the IEEE team again transferred all internet traffic to the MOVE truck (they processed about 10 GB of data today). IEEE, at the request of the Red Cross, was asked provide a TV inside the headquarters so that the weather could be monitored. They used a wireless HDMI box to transmit the TV signal from the IEEE MOVE truck satellite TV system to the TV inside. Very cool. 3 additional Red Cross DST volunteers were on hand today to assist in supporting the volunteers onsite with computer and printing issues.


Gregg Vaughn – 7 March

7 March – Day 3 of this deployment brought new Red Cross volunteers from across the country to support disaster relief operations. Today, there were a number of issues number of issues with the network and equipment. the team moved the network internet service to the IEEE truck where they supported all internet traffic from headquarters. This action helped settle some Intermittent internet access issues.  It is believed these problems were caused by local cell service issues (several cell towers that were destroyed).

This afternoon IEEE Region 3 director Gregg Vaughn joined the team to check out the truck. He was able to confirm that the solar charging system was working as designed (Gregg was the original designer of the power system in the MOVE truck).

Additional tornadoes are possible this weekend. The weather is being closely monitored and plans are in place for the safety of all volunteers onsite.

Video: Red Cross volunteers from the Triangle dispatched to Alabama (WRAL.com)


6 March – Today, the team focused on configuring and distributing laptops and phones to Red Cross volunteers who are working at HQ and in the field. (Also, the team has continued to configure the headquarters and has installed a multipurpose printer).

Tomorrow they expect more of the same as many additional volunteers are expected to arrive.


John Balsam & Grayson Randall

5 March, 11:30 PM –  IEEE-USA’s MOVE truck traveled from Durham, NC to Opelika, AL today (just north of Beauregard, AL). The deployment team (Grayson Randall and John Balsam) helped set up the headquarters for disaster operations (including providing the initial wifi network). They anticipate installing a printer and distributing/configuring laptops and phones tomorrow. Getting the operation headquarters up and running is the first priority. (this is where all disaster operations will be coordinated).


5 March, 9:00 AM – The MOVE truck has been deployed to provide critical communications infrastructure support to the Beauregard, AL community (60 miles east of Montgomery, population of approx 10k). On Sunday, 3 March, a devasting EF4 tornado with winds of up to 170 Mile mph cut a one-mile swath of devastation through the community.


Before & After

(Source: Accuweather)

These before-and-after photos show a house and trailer in Beauregard, Alabama, that were completely blown off their foundations and ended up in the woods after an EF4 tornado struck on Sunday. AccuWeather’s Reed Timmer said the occupants of both structures survived. (Before: Google Earth; After: AP Photo/David Goldman)

Photo Gallery >>


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