2017 was a busy year for the IEEE-USA Mobile Outreach Vehicle (MOVE) team. After providing support to victims of flooding in Missouri, US in May, the team deployed continuously for disaster relief efforts from mid-August through October. When not deployed for disaster relief efforts, the team worked to support STEM and community outreach events that notably included the Atlanta Science Festival and The National Scout Jamboree.
In the last quarter of 2017, the MOVE team assisted with communication outages caused by overuse during the eclipse event, followed by a marathon chain of deployments to Houston, TX, US for Hurricane Harvey Relief as well as to Florida, US (specifically Naples and Key West) to assist victims of Hurricane Irma.
Recharging Power and Potential
On 26 August 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph. Traveling 1,357 miles, IEEE MOVE volunteers arrived at 10 pm CDT during torrential downpours at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX, US.
After spending the night in the MOVE truck, the team set up communications infrastructure for first responders and assisted the mega shelter in preparing for the arrival of more than 10,000 displaced residents. Described by our volunteers as an area that “looked like a war zone,” buses and helicopters arrived to unload victims of the devastation and our volunteers were onsite to assist with immediate relief needs and ongoing recovery.
The weather situation was quite volatile in Houston and volunteers were evacuated into the building three times in just one hour due to tornado warnings. Once it was deemed safe, however, the real work began — setting up back-up communications (ham radios) and providing all of the information technology required to support the many programs in operation at this mega shelter, which included activities related to feeding, sleeping, medical and mental health care, management of volunteers and resources on site, family re-unification and more.
Rescue and recovery efforts continued — as did the heavy rain — until 30 August. On the 28th, water quickly rose around the truck at 12:30 am, but thanks to Tim Forrest, one of our most active IEEE volunteers, the crisis was averted and the team was able to move the vehicle before it too was flooded.
Another threat was looming in Florida with Hurricane Irma. On 6 September, a new crew arrived in Houston to continue supporting recovery operations as the MOVE truck and its volunteers headed to Florida, US to provide relief efforts there.
By The Numbers
- 5,750: Volunteer hours donated to MOVE
- 6,000: Miles the MOVE truck travelled between Aug. and Oct. 2017
- 114: Volunteers trained
- 13: Volunteers deployed for disasters in 2017
- 886,083: Hurricane Harvey Survivors Assisted
- 77,000: Hurricane Irma Survivors Assisted
- 3: STEM Outreach events held