Author – Garrett Hill
Hurricane Matthew is giving us a not-so-subtle reminder that another hurricane season is underway. Some years the severity of storms is worse than others, but Mother Nature never takes a year off. Our neighbors in the Caribbean usually seem to bear the brunt of the force of these storms. For most of the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard it is also a matter of when, not if, the next big storm will wreak havoc on their communities with triple-digit sustained winds and rainfall that can be measured in feet, not inches.
The Boy Scout motto may seem a bit dated and overused but it still rings true after all these years. And it certainly pertains to emergency and disaster preparedness plans put in place to respond to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of nature. There are too many examples like Hurricane Katrina where the potential for loss of life and property are grossly underestimated and anemic planning for a quick and effective response only make things worse. Ultimately that storm took the lives of over 1,200 people and caused $108B in property damage.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
When it comes to preparation, hope is never a good strategy. Lives are at stake. Citizens are counting on their local, state, and federal agencies to have a scalable response to any state of emergency/disaster that is capable of dealing with the worst-case scenario imaginable. It is impossible to foresee and avoid every facet of danger when dealing with powerful and highly unpredictable situations such as a hurricane or tornado. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate the potential for loss of life when a storm impacts a large geographic area containing millions of people.
Communication is key.
Even the best laid plans have the potential to be less than effective or even completely fail when put under the pressure of performing when things are at their worst in the aftermath of a disaster. Making sure the proper resources are sent where they are needed the most cannot happen without proper communication. In an emergency situation such as a hurricane, landlines and other traditional means of communication are either knocked out or are heavily congested and sporadically available due to overload traffic levels.
Satellite communication systems are an important asset utilized during disaster recovery efforts. We have become very dependent on cell phones for so many conveniences in our life beyond just the ability to make and receive phone calls. Local first responders will utilize radios to coordinate their efforts, but this means of communicating has limitations as you expand to try and coordinate across a larger geographic area and involve multiple agencies. X2nSat’s Mobile VSAT kits can be deployed quickly and provide reliable connection anywhere there is a view of the sky.
Recovery is a long road.
The media loves to cover a good storm. We’ve all seen the remote reporter standing on a seawall getting thrashed by waves and whipping winds as they lean sideways into the leading edge of the storm as it makes landfall. News cycles are short these days, but rebuilding and getting infrastructure back in place can take many weeks or months in some cases.
Hospitals, schools, and other institutions need to have contingencies put in place as well. The medical industry heavily relies on technology and the ability to communicate. Transfer of patient electronic medical files, telemedicine, and videoconferencing are necessary tools used every day that affect the quality and timeliness of care provided. X2nSat recently unveiled our SatBlue line of voice and data services that insure continuity of all communications in a disaster recovery situation.
The well-known philosopher of our time Mike Tyson had this to say: “Everyone has a good plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” Mother Nature can pack quite a punch and be just as unpredictable as a heavyweight boxer with a tattoo on his face. Make sure you are ready when you step into the ring. It could get ugly.