Updated Aug. 30, 2017 at 10:18 a.m.

NC engineers provide tech relief in hurricane-ravaged Houston

Published: 2017-08-30 06:38:00
Updated: 2017-08-30 10:18:59

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These North Carolina engineers have boots on the ground - and in the water.

Add the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers to the growing lists of volunteers pitching in to help hurricane victims in flood-ravaged Houston. A team that includes Triangle members is deployed with a huge ("MOVE") truck packed with communications gear to help rescue workers - and they have been flooded themselves.

Having set up at a disaster center to support its partner the Red Cross, the IEEE team soon found itself awash.

Flood waters surround the MOVE truck"They were surrounded by water themselves, last night, when preparing to sleep," Triangle tech executive and IEEE Board Member Mary Ellen Randall tells The Skinny.

"Grayson Randall (Cary) and Tim Forrest (Morehead City, NC) are in Houston with the MOVE truck," she points out. "We are trying to get other IEEE volunteers in as well."

The action has been demanding - and nonstop.

"Last night, the shelter population was around 700. This morning they are at almost 2500 clients and growing! Red Cross volunteers had a busy night," wrote at IEEE member at Facebook.

Pictures and videos documented some of the peril the IEEE team faced as Houston was swamped by some 50 inches of rain.

The volunteers are part of the IEEE-USA MOVE team, which includes the mobile truck headquarters. Its mission is to "support the technology infrastructure required to support the many programs in operation," Randall notes.

The IEEE, which is best known for helping set and maintain standards for tech-center products and services, dates back to 1963. With more than 420,000 members nationwide, the group and the USA MOVE team are supported by donations.

MOVE on the scene in HoustonAnd the group is putting resources to good use. For example, in a photo from the scene, a Red Cross volunteer is showing helping set up a HAM radio to establish better communications between two Red Cross operations.

The MOVE truck is the IEEE hub. It "provides communications, power and technology support when the infrastructure is compromised," Randall explains. "It is staffed by volunteer members. The truck was designed by members, as well."

IEEE has been on the move with it a great deal, too.

"Since getting the truck in April 2016, we have deployed to 7 natural disasters – hurricanes, flooding, Tennessee wildfires, and more," Randall points out.

"We have five drivers who also all volunteers who go out with the truck:

  • Grayson Randall (Ascot Technologies, Inc. – formerly IBM)
  • James Conrad (UNC Charlotte)
  • J. Kenneth Pigg (Duke Progress Energy)
  • Percy Shadwell (from Florida)
  • Jay Diepenbrock (formerly IBM)

IEEE's MOVE "IEEE is a great worldwide network of great minds. That’s why I am a member. It’s the people."

MOVE and IEEE are funded by donations. You can help at:

http://www.ieeefoundation.org/move

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The Skinny

The Skinny

WRAL TechWire Publisher and Editor Rick Smith dishes out tidbits from the local technology sector. Read more articles…

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