Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Kemp

Steve Kemp first became involved in IEEE MOVE at SoutheastCon 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky. Little did he know that in October 2016 he would get ‘one of those calls’ from Mary Ellen Randall and find ‘yes’ coming out of his mouth before his brain engaged in the conversation. Within 2 hours, he had taken a couple of prerequisite Red Cross courses, passed a background check, and was on his way to pick up a rental car that Red Cross had arranged near his home. Between the first call and his departure, the mission changed from meeting the MOVE truck, which was repositioning to follow the storm, to a Red Cross Disaster Services Technology (DST) assignment in Wilmington, NC—if he could get there before the storm hit. He made it just in time to hunker down and sit out the Hurricane, which caused substantial damage, followed by major flooding. Seeing a few people in his hotel wearing Red Cross vests, he joined in and helped put the early planning together as it was too windy to leave the hotel. It was a second day before he could report to the newly established District Office, which had a preliminary set-up before the storm.

Keith Savage, an experienced DST lead and a great mentor, was really helpful when Kemp discovered that his 1-week mobilization was a two-week obligation; but he was learning so much and quickly given sufficient responsibility, that he extended twice for a total of a month on the job.

Every day was a new assignment. The coaching was thorough but gentle, and his mistakes were few and disclosed early enough to draw not much more than a knowing wince from his mentor. Kemp adapted quickly to the new and ever-changing demands, managed to complete much of an online night training DST-101 course in equipment, capabilities and operations and went on to attend a 3-day Hands-on-Training (HOT) in Baltimore the following Spring. There, he worked in a simulated disaster with much of the equipment inventory available for a DST response.

In the Fall of 2017, Kemp was mobilized for Hurricane Harvey in Texas and spent a month in Houston, arriving just in time to relieve Grayson Randall and Tim Forrest, who had just equipped the opening of the Houston Convention Center which overnight became home to 12,000 displaced workers.

A week after getting home, Kemp mobilized again for another month in Houston, then a few weeks later, a month in Puerto Rico, where he joined a team setting up power and satellite voice and data communications for the residents of a different municipality each day, sites that had been darkened and silenced by the hurricanes. Puerto Rico has 78 such municipalities and all were severely damaged by back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It wasn’t until his return from Puerto Rico that Kemp got a ride on the MOVE truck Everywhere he went, he was an ambassador for the MOVE Initiative and for IEEE, and was warmly welcomed to every assignment. Steve deployed to the Tennessee Tornadoes in the truck in March 2020.

Thank you Steve!

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