Disaster Tech Lab started to monitor the weather patterns across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as early as April 23rd. Considering that the predictions were for the worst multi-day, multi-tornado outbreak since 2011 we immediately called for a show of hands from our pool of volunteers. We also activated a new addition to our team, the meteorologist Samuel Abbott who was tasked to provide daily customised forecasts as well as monitor the weather patterns for any unexpected changes. Our volunteers monitored the developing weather patterns and shared this data with our partner organisations as well as with the general public utilising our social media accounts.
When the first tornadoes hit in the Baxter Springs and Vilonia/Mayflower areas on the 28th we immediately activated assessment teams who visited the damaged areas to asses the damage to the communications networks as well as the communications needs of the various responding agencies and the local community. Of the two Baxter Springs was in the most need of our services so we activated a tech team to the area. We also arranged for equipment to be transported from our depot in San Antonio TX to the affected areas.
On the 29 the storm front shifted in a South-easterly direction with multiple tornadoes. The total now stands at over 50 reported tornadoes in the last 24 hours alone. The city of Tupelo was especially badly damaged when a 1/4 mile wide wedge tornado hit the center causing widespread damage.
As of this morning (April 30th) we have a tech team due to arrive in Baxter Springs where they will be installing VSAT equipment provided by GATR at the shelter set up in the community center. Once this has been installed they will start building a local WLAN providing internet access to the various agencies and organisations working in the community center. In addition we will build a public internet facility with internet connected laptops for public use. Our engineers will also liaise with other organisations and continue to assess the local area for further communication needs.
Lastly we are working to get an assessment team in to the Tupelo area to asses the communications needs there.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Volunteer: if you are a (wifi) network engineer we can use your skills and expertise. Complete this form if you’re able to assist.
- Donate: while we work with unpaid volunteers our work generates certain expenses. You can help us meet these costs by donating here on this page. Note: 99% of received donations are spent delivering direct aid.
- Equipment: we can always use more equipment. At the moment we are in need of more laptops and tablets. If you want to donate any please contact us via email.