[Volunteers] Status from the Gulf Coast - Days 2 and 3

Chris Verges chverges at cisco.com
Fri Sep 23 17:52:37 PDT 2005

Yesterday, I wiped dried feces off a coax cable running from a 2-m 
antenna to a ham rig.  This was after driving 30 minutes into the middle 
of nowhere and getting lost several times since no road signs exist 
anymore.  I cannot even begin to describe the devastation that I'm 
seeing here ... empty lots where once stood houses, houses sitting in 
trees (i have a picture of this one), people with gangrene because their 
medical conditions couldn't be treated soon enough, children no longer 
with parents ... it's really heart-wrenching.

The team from Cisco currently consists of an engineering from RTP, an 
"incident manager" from RTP, and myself.  The other engineer will be 
going home tomorrow or the next day since he's been here for 2 solid 
weeks -- I'm his replacement.

At the Pearlington, MS site where we started yesterday, we managed to 
get satellite communications piped through a Cisco 2800 series router, 
then from that into an Aironet 1300 access point.  Connected both via 
wireless and to the 2800 router are banks of IP phones, all different 
makes and models.  Once we finally managed to get communications 
established, my job was to configure a single 3550 PoE switch and an 
Aironet 1300 that could be left at Pearlington so that we could move on 
to other things.

Before I got started, the incident manager and myself were called away 
to an issue at the Navy Network Operations Center (NOC) on Highway 90 
over near Waveland, MS.  That station was supporting three deployed 
units via 802.16 links, and for some reason the 802.16 links weren't 
working.  The only problem is that I don't have any experience with 
802.16.  :-\  It actually just took a minor reset of the TCP/IP stack on 
the 802.16 bridging hardware, but we only discovered this by dumb luck.

So then after a few hours and several more issues at the Emergency 
Operations Center (EOC) in Hancock County, MS, we head back to 
Pearlington to setup their comm gear.  45 minutes later, it was done and 
ready to go online.  Then the fire marshall of the area came up and said 
that the Pearl River was starting to overflow and that the center had to 
be evacuated.  So, we spent about 3 hours tearing down everything that 
we setup during the course of the day.  (And the other engineer had been 
there for several days already doing the pre-prep work.)

Today, due to tornado warnings in the county, we evacuated to Pensacola, 
FL.  Good thing too, because we later heard that a tornado touched down 
at Pearlington.  :-\  I only hope the people that were there managed to 
get out safely.  We'll be staying in Pensacola at the Ramada Bayside for 
the next couple of days, riding out the storm.  After that, we will 
either be re-deployed into Mississippi or may end up going out to 
Louisiana and/or Texas for the Rita clean-up.

Because of our downtime today, we took the opportunity to clean the RV 
that is our home.  This involved taking out ALL of the gear, spreading 
it out on the lawn, wiping it all down with disinfectant, wiping bleach 
over every surface in the RV, using the hotel vaccumn cleaner and some 
carpet powder cleaner to get everything up, and then finally re-packing 
the whole RV.  Though quite a lot of work -- almost 4 hours in total -- 
it was very necessary to clean up the mud, feces, and grass/leaves that 
had worked itself into the RV from the Pearlington ARC site.  Yes, the 
area is that bad off.

Tonight, since we're in Pensacola, we'll be enjoying a nice dinner, a 
few beers, free wireless Internet at the hotel, and the laundry 
facilities as we clean ourselves up.  I should have Internet access for 
the next 48 hours, but after that it could be very spotty as we're 
moving into position and getting things setup.  I wish I had more time 
to take pictures, but I know everyone understands what is going on.  
I'll definitely relay stories when I get back.


Chris Verges
chverges at cisco.com
408 525-0401

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