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Hurricane Isaac, We’re Ready.

I moved down to D’Iberville, MS February of 2005.  A quaint up and coming starter community just North of Biloxi, MS.  I remember, while working for the State Police, taking my lunch to the end of a pier that was near by our office, sitting on the edge and looking out over the water.  I enjoyed the peace, especially since it wasn’t even two years ago before that I was in Afghanistan looking forward to holding my 6 month old daughter that I spent 5 days with before deploying.  I found this pretty little 4/2 split plan home less than a mile “as the crow flies” from the beach that August.  It was humble, but I knew it would be a good place to start my life over.  I remember watching and listening about some storm that month out in the middle of no where, thinking to myself, “I better hurry and close on that house otherwise I will not be able to get Home Owners Insurance.”  Well, my house luckily enough was not in a flood zone, it was the suckers across the street, so I didn’t need to pay the extra insurance at closing.  I closed August 25, 2005.  Looking back, it’s funny to think how I was barely able to get all of my belongings moved into the house before I had to board up and head for higher ground.  Little did I know at the time that the one night I spent in the house would be the last night.  I packed an over night bag, locked the door, and left.

Hurricane Katrina before landfall, Category 5

Intense Hurricane Katrina video of 28 feet of storm surge.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She bolstered swells upwards of 30ft and reeked havoc throughout the Mississippi Coast Line with her devastation physically noticed over 160 miles inland to the heart of Mississippi, Jackson.  She claimed nearly 1900 lives, displaced more than 700,000 people (more than the Dust Bowl Migration of the Great Depression) and cost our country nearly $125 Billion Dollars in property damage and insurance pay outs.  To this day, there are still nearly 700 missing persons from that infamous day 7 years ago.

In Mississippi alone, over 200 lives were taken, 67 missing persons, and 5 still yet to be identified.  Over 65,000 homes were destroyed, including one that sat at 10229 Cottage Court Cove, D’Iberville, MS 39540, my home.  My neighborhood went under 15ft of water with about 7ft sitting inside my home before residing.  I remember looking through the portal of the front door, seeing the damage, the water line, the mud, everything.  I didn’t even unlock the door.  I did what I knew to do:  Report for duty.

I reported to the Emergency Operation Center in Gulfport, MS, linked up with the Director of the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, Sam Howell, and conducted Search and Recovery efforts with the Harrison County Coroner’s Office.  Search and Rescue teams would identify remains and our team would recover those remains and transport them back to the “Reefer Trucks” (Refrigerated Tractor Trailers) parked outside one of the funeral homes in Gulfport, MS.  We had recovery teams mobilized throughout the Gulf Coast.  My area of responsibility was Biloxi, MS.

 
 
Conditions were terrible.  I slept on a slab the first night across from the EOC.  Our communications were non-existent, the only service provider available was Cell South, now called C-Spire.  Our collaboration across the board with mobilized agency’s from law enforcement volunteers to the MS National Guard was decayed.  It was analogue and archaic.  There were next to no communications capabilities while we were deployed to our AOs.  Each team had to be internally self sufficient, bringing everything we needed with us that morning.  Response was slow, the people were restless, and resources were coming close to depleting.  We weren’t ready.
 

Biloxi, MS

Now it’s 2012.  On the eve of the Anniversary of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters of our time, Hurricane Isaac will eerily make landfall on this momentous day 7 years later.  At this point, as I listen to the News from the other room, Isaac has increased to a Category I.  The Army National Guard has already mobilized, the Joint Information Center (JIC) was deployed two days ago and is set up for distribution D+1.  The stage is set for one of the quickest responses that the state of Mississippi has to offer with every available hand poised and ready.  I myself, a Nationally Registered EMT-B, am also ready to provide assistance if need be.  Now, we are ready.

In the short time I have worked for Cisco, I have been part of an amazing team that has relentlessly worked to bring attention to Cisco’s technology in order to aid and assist First Responders so that they may seamlessly do what they do best:  Serve.  With Cisco’s TacOps team and NERV mobile command center those who respond will have at their finger tips what they need to provide assistance to the public.

Today, we are ready.

This was difficult for me to write and share.  As you finish reading this, please give a moment of silence for those that Hurricane Katrina claimed and their families.

Humbly Yours,

Mark Rogers

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Keep The P.A.C.E.

         

  In the military, we have a phrase:  “Shoot, Move, and Communicate”.   However, it should really be “Communicate, Move, then Shoot”… because you can’t do either two without communicating first.  However, I’m sure the first adage just sounds cooler… What’s that mean? In any great organization, one of the essential components of any plan is, “How are we going to talk to each other”, whether that be by a simple phone on the desk or a hi-tech secure data/voice/video capability.  In order to have proper Command and Control (C2) over the battlefield and mass, organize, and develop precision maneuver, a plan has to be created that’s efficient, effective, and reliable… most importantly, it has to be REDUNDANT! Read More »

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The Power of Pervasive Video

August 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm PST

We’re having a great time in Baltimore this week at the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Customer and Industry Forum 2011 (DISA). We’ve had the opportunity to discuss telepresence with people from all across the defense industry, and we’ve learned a great deal about their innovative and enterprising communications practices.

All of these discussions of enhancing information exchange for better command and control of military operations and improving communication throughout the Defense Department highlighted, for me, the profound impact a wide video collaboration deployment can have on an agency. With telepresence connections available to all employees, business retains continuity during disruptions, teleworkers stay fully connected, and agencies fulfill their commitments to environmental sustainability, among other benefits.  Read More »

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Telepresence Primed to Optimize Multijurisdictional Emergency Response

August 15, 2011 at 5:13 am PST

When emergency strikes, people want answers. What’s going on, what is the safety threat, and perhaps most importantly, who’s in charge?

That last question can lead to some complicated answers when an incident occurs under multiple law enforcement jurisdictions. For example, take the pipe bomb scare in March 2010 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. As Corey McKenna of Emergency Management explains, several units responded—campus police, a regional bomb squad, and the local police and fire departments—but these units did not have much history of working together. A fair bit of miscommunication and chaos ensued.

Thankfully, the above scenario proved to be nothing more than a suspicious empty suitcase. But the confusion among responding parties characterizes emergency response all too often. McKenna reports that problems with multijurisdictional response include “time and grind”—hammering out the details without the guidance of capable leadership—and “relationships”—knowing the people with whom you’re working. Read More »

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