Hurricane IDA Deployment

11 September – MOVE’s Hurricane Ida deployment has been completed. The team is in Atlanta tonight and will arrive in Durham tomorrow.

8 September – Providing communications and power is not always glamorous. Alan Brown’s activities today (13 hours and approximately 200 miles) included the following tasks at 5 locations:

  • Staff Shelter at Graceworks Baptist Church in Prairieville, LA
    • Install printer & laptop; move it all after they change their minds
    • Deliver supplies from Baton Rouge headquarters warehouse
  • Client Shelter at Lamar Dixon Gym in Gonzales, LA
    • Deliver supplies from Baton Rouge headquarters warehouse
  • Kitchen at Ascension Baptist Church in Gonzales, LA
    • DST wellness check: replaced radio batteries & answered Excel questions
  • Client Shelter at Amelia Rec. Center in Amelia, LA
    • Install printer; re-wire their computer table.
  • Kitchen at Bayou Vista Baptist Church in Morgan City, LA
    • DST wellness check: repaired radios & answered various questions

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7 September – Today, the team went back to the Hammond kitchen to deliver two gasoline generators to provide the power, freeing up the truck for other assignments. After returning to headquarters in Baton Rouge, Alan made a sortie to Alexandria to pick up a load of laptops, and Jay worked on wiping laptops and phones for re-issue to the Red Cross staff, which now total over 800 on this operation. He also helped users with various computer problems.

6 September – Jay and Alan took the MOVE-1 truck to the Hammond Kitchen, which had not had any power in the room assigned to the Red Cross kitchen leadership for four days. They used the generator on the truck to provide power for laptops, a printer, and network gear so the staff could manage the kitchen, which is now preparing 7000 meals per day.

5 September – Jay and Alan Split up today

Jay had half the day off. Jay and Dana then took off to a warehouse 4 miles away from the Red Cross Baton Rouge headquarters to setup Internet communications, laptops, printers, etc.

Alan and Thomas chased way down to Morgan City, LA. We performed a DST survey of an elementary school gymnasium that will be used as a staff shelter. Then installed Kitchen #3 at Bayou Vista Baptist Church with Internet communications, printer, laptop, cell phones, radio base station & antenna, and yard radios. Then installed power strips with 36 outlets at Berwick Client shelter for charging client devices.

Tonight they vacated their luxury cubicles in the Red Cross chapter office (HQ) building and checked into a hotel, a big step up!

Volleyball Pole Antenna

2 September – Alan and Jay traveled to three field kitchen sites today to deliver and set up laptops, networking and radio equipment, printers, and cell phones to support the kitchens. Alan came up with a novel method of supporting a radio antenna on an old volleyball pole (engineers solve problems!). They saw many traffic lights and businesses still out, downed utility poles, and damage to houses, signs, and buildings. Local reports say it will be weeks before some areas have power restored. Cell phone service is still out in many areas. Gas lines are still long at the few stations that have gasoline (and power).

1 September – Jay and Alan each drove box trucks to Alexandria, LA (2.5 hours each way) today to pick up a large shipment of Disaster Services Technology (DST) equipment to support the operation, since FedEx is not servicing Baton Rouge yet.  Thursday they will travel to two new kitchen sites to set up computers, printers, VHF radios, and cell phones for communicating with the food distribution teams.

The power is beginning to be restored to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, though there are still traffic lights out and power lines across roads in places.  Fuel availability remains very limited.  The first commercial airline flights are expected to service New Orleans Louis Armstrong airport on Thursday.

31 August – Today, Alan and Jay set up cell phones and laptops for issuance to Red Cross personnel serving the clients out of the Baton Rouge chapter office. The team also traveled to New Orleans to pick up two rental box trucks to be used to pick up and deliver equipment, since commercial shipping service in the area is limited. Gas is hard to find and the team visited four stations with a long line to fill the car with gas for the trip. The trip was further slowed down by many dark traffic lights. Large areas still flooded with water and the team saw a lot of roof and tree damage during their travels. Some residents were told that the power may not be back on for weeks.

30 August (11:10 PM EDT) – The damage and conditions in Baton Rouge from Hurricane Ida were not as severe as expected, and the prior Ground Stop was lifted Monday morning, so the team (Alan Brown and Jay Diepenbrock) were given permission to travel there from Texarkana, TX. The weather was sunny most of the way, and convoys of Army and electric company vehicles were seen en route.

The power was out starting about six miles from the Red Cross chapter office in Baton Rouge, causing slow, heavy traffic (traffic lights were almost all dark) and long lines at the few stations that had gasoline available (no electricity, so no pumps). Some damage was evident, but not as much as expected.

Unfortunately, the lack of power also affected the available lodging options. The Holiday Inn had no power, so the team was reassigned to a staff shelter at a Baptist church, which as it turned out, also had no power. They were then faced with the choice of sleeping on the truck (quiet, but with no bathroom) or in a cubicle in the chapter office. They chose the latter (hoping that their neighbors didn’t snore). They enjoyed a gourmet chili heater meal (think MREs – meals-ready-to-eat), set up their new digs, and tried to get some sleep.

Tomorrow they will get their work assignment. In addition to the entire city of New Orleans having no power, they were told that three of the local parishes (think counties) have complete communications blackouts, AT&T has no service, etc., so hopefully MOVE can help.

30 August – The MOVE team is on their way to Baton Rouge, LA to assist with recovery efforts. They should arrive later this afternoon. One million people in Louisiana are without power at this time (power could be out 6 weeks for some).

29 August (12:55 PM EDT) – NOAA Doppler radar imagery indicates that the eye of Ida made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana near Port Fourchon around 11:55 AM CDT (1655 UTC). Data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft and Doppler radar data indicate that Ida‘s maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated to be 150mph (240 km/h).

29 August (11:00 AM EDT) – Hurricane IDA is an extremely dangerous category 4 (150 mph sustained winds) and expected to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana within the next few hours. IEEE-USA’s MOVE-1 Truck has been deployed and is headed to pre-position in Texarkana.

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