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Stories from the Field: Restoring Connectivity for Disaster Survivors and Responders

Stories from the Field: Restoring Connectivity for Disaster Survivors and Responders

Airlink and its partners Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines recently provided travel for ITDRC’s volunteer responders assisting communities in The Bahamas recovering from Hurricane Dorian. Learn below about the assistance they provided with the support of our partnership.  

 

Stories from the Field
Joe Hillis | Operations Director
Information Technology Disaster Resource Center

Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) just rotated our first team of 10 volunteers through the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. Our organization engages more than 1,600 technology professionals in providing connectivity to disaster survivors and the responders assisting them.

Our teams have been installing connectivity (WiFi, telephones and computers) for responding non-governmental organizations, shelters, and community recovery sites as well as restoring services for hurricane survivors on Grand Bahama, Great Abaco and Nassau.

This is ITDRC’s first international response, so we’ve had to adjust some of our processes and implement new ones — fortunately, because of Airlink, air travel wasn’t one of them! And because of their support, we were able to quickly respond to communities needing our specialized assistance. 

Within hours of Hurricane Dorian exiting The Bahamas, ITDRC received an urgent request from an industry partner for our team to re-establish communications at Grand Bahama International Airport. The airport was closed and under six feet of water at the time, which provided us with a narrow window to request flights from Airlink and mobilize an advance team and small cache of equipment. 

As soon as the flooding subsided, the airport re-opened to emergency traffic, with little more than a generator and cell phone to control the airspace. 

The flood destroyed all telephone and communications equipment on the first floor of the control tower, leaving air traffic controllers without access to aviation and weather radar or the ability to communicate with other airports. ITDRC teams were able to install temporary voice and network infrastructure on the upper three floors of the tower, enabling controllers to access flight tracking systems and providing a method for pilots to file flight plans and call into the airport’s weather desk.

You can imagine the sense of pride we felt upon receiving a thank you message from the airport’s director that stated: “We called, for the first time, the outside world. We were able to get a hold of the Miami center and Abaco center via the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) you set up. We are just so grateful and appreciative that you were able to assist us with that…who would have thought that [people] from Texas would be in the Bahamas to help with the restoration effort!”

With Airlink’s support, we have mobilized a second team and are continuing our work to accelerate infrastructure recovery. That includes assisting the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) to connect critical sites and providing communications resources and technical assistance to Bahama Power and Light (BPL). 

Thank you for enabling us to immediately respond to communities needing our specialized assistance!

 

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