Saturday, October 01, 2005

moving the blog ...

I'm moving the RR/CC/P15 blog to a host I operate, and to blog tech I prefer, since I'm the primary ... chronicler ... of our efforts.

We'll be able to post photos without recourse to Flickr too, another win.

Things are fairly slow at present, and I'm trying to line up more transport and fuel, as well as get our rig in to replace Mobile Learning Labs' rig around the 10th.

So, click on, where our cooperative blog of wireless ISP volunteers on the Category 5 (more or less) Katrina/Rita/... work continues.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wavelan pt 4

They have started a blog!

Wavelan (West of Bay St. Louis) Part 2

Mac Dearman writes:

G'morning folks,

I am sorry I havent posted before now and that they have been so far apart, but there is a FINE excuse! Lack of bandwidth and lack of sleep will do it every time. My crew and myself have been camping out with the EOC at the Vo-Tech/High School facilities just North of Bay ST. Louis on
the Stennis Air base. There was several satellites set up and left open for those of us who were there, but the down link was 512K as the military in the area had about 4 Satellites as well and that saturated the area. We all worked out in the field from 7:00am to dark:30 every
day - - showing up about half the time for lunch and back to the field.

We brought in a wireless 45Meg pipe from Gulfport to a water tower in Waveland (just West of Bay St. Louis) using Trango Atlas gear and then set up some Trango 900Mhz APs on that water tower to feed all the faculties and staff of numerous medical facilities, fire/police, shelters, schools, churches, one hospital and too many other places for me remember. We were in the process of deploying some 2.4Ghz gear to make a few PTP shots to 3 other water towers spread out around the towns to make a circle and catch all the camps as well as the Stennis Air base (EOC) when the feeder bands of Rita made us hit the hi-way as EOC ordered an immediate evacuation of the Gulf area towns. This campaign will pick back as Early as Sunday in Bay St. Louis/Waveland and we still have a BH to build into Pearlington and Diamondhead. The work will be ongoing for a while yet and now we have Rita come in!! Wow - - I am in shock.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A quick update on Bay St Louis status

Michael Mee writes:

After great work in many directions (finding bandwidth, finding towers, getting permission, mounting gear - lots of details!), the 45Mbit backhaul from Gulfport (~15 miles, one intermediate tower) is up and running. We lost power at our end a couple of times today between the city grid going down and before the police department we're getting power from had plugged in their generator. A UPS sure would be handy!

With the link in and solid, we've been quickly bringing connectivity to shelters. We're using 900MHz Trango gear for local backhauls and hooking in donated PCs and voip phones and service. We only have a couple of people really familiar with these radios, so there have been a couple of
service glitches, but we're ironing those out with experience.

So far we're up to approx 5 shelter locations, a police station and Bay St Louis city hall (their own dsl but our voip gear). The shelter visitors LOVE this. They're catching up on bills, phone calls etc. Some locations which had satellite (medical services, police) are transitioning due to the much higher speeds and responsiveness. We have about 15 phones total in use - highly prized here because a lot of local phone wiring is gone (gutted telco cabinets are all along the main roads).

The wind and rain is coming this way tomorrow, maybe, so we won't be climbing unfortunately as we'd like to light up the EOC where we're based which is still on satellite. Weather permitting there's more shelters to get to tomorrow and some to go back to that need phones. The donated I2 boxes have some quirks that we're learning slowly to work around. The free voip minutes organized by are excellent and Scott and Aaron have been very helpful in getting the bugs out.

cheers, michael

Some OHS flutter

Presentation of Kenneth Moran - Director, Office of Homeland Security, Enforcement Bureau

Restoration efforts have not been limited to traditional service providers only. Although not licensed by the Commission, WISPs have helped to restore communications throughout existing service coverage areas, in over 400 affected locations. Using technologies that are flexible enough to deploy full scale, multi-mile networks within just one to two days, the WISP industry has also been working tirelessly to assist in the communications needs of public safety professionals, including FEMA and state and local police.

Often WISPs are working to provide service coverage in more rural areas - areas like Woolmarket Township, MS, where the communications service provided by WISPs is the only available means of communications for local authorities and relief centers. While WISPs from around the country have provided both personnel and equipment to assist in relief efforts, WISPs already operating in the affected areas are putting forth tremendous efforts to provide access to communications in their local communities.

We would like to extend our thanks to and its Chair, Mike Anderson, for assisting in the overall coordination of WISPs' efforts. These grassroots broadband service providers have demonstrated their dedication to providing communications services, wherever they are needed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Our second casualty ...

Aaron Huslage, the VoIP project lead, writes

My cell phone has been disconnected by my company. I was terminated yesterday for reasons that are not yet clear (and are likely illegal), and they paid the bill. I'm on the way back to Portland, OR from Bay St. Louis and will arrive at 5pm Pacific.

I will have things sorted out tomorrow afternoon (Pacific) and either email you the new number or tell you it's back on. For now, please rely on Email and AIM for communications.

Aaron went down with Scott on the 10th, taking a box of ATAs in that had been staged to San Antonio, and worked through the 19th.

Monday, September 19, 2005

From the Inveneo Katrina blog

Mark Summers' post link.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

VoIP Team Status, Kelly AFB down, Cityteam up

Aaron writes:
It's been an interesting day here in VoIP Team land. We have a great architecture in place to pass calls with. We have equipment lined up to go into the field. We have no where to put it.

The Kelly Air Force Base project has fallen through. The people in the field finally gained access and the network was already up and running. SBC had installed 70 telephones and 9000 people had left in the past week. The VoIP team had sent 6 people to help out. Now at least 2 are headed home.

This is an unfortunate development, but from the ashes of that project come new opportunities to help out.

The first project we are working on is with Cityteam ( in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. As some of you know Bay St. Louis was obliterated by Katrina. Some people remained behind and some are trickling into the area. Cityteam is a nonprofit aid agency based in San Jose. They are FEMA and Red Cross affiliated and are working under those agencys' advisement for this project.

Cityteam contacted Mark Summer (a member of the VoIP core team) of Inveneo ( to arrange for telephone and data access in the area. While many areas are already covered by wireless data, this area remains largely dark. There is no power, and the phone service is completely out as well.

Inveneo is sending people and equipment to the area over the weekend. We have also involved Mac Dearman's WISPA Disaster Relief team to get bandwidth to the area. The VoIP team will initally provide an Asterisk server, an Adtran channel bank and 24 analog telephones for this effort. Our involvement will grow and change with the site's needs.

There are many groups out there doing many wonderful things. It's the VoIP team's job to find those in need of our assistance and give them what they need. People want to communicate and cannot. We can help them. If you know of a group that can use our services, please let me know either by email or telephone. I will speak to them and see what we can do.

This is the worst natural disaster this country has ever seen. There are many many people who are homeless and in desperate need not only of food, water and shelter, but of the ability to communicate with their families and friends. They also need a way to fill out their FEMA and Red Cross forms, send email and get away from it all by checking the sports scores or reading something on the Internet. We can give these people this ability again. This is why we are together and why we are donating so much of our time and efforts. Let us not
forget this.

Please feel free to call or email me with any questions or concerns anytime 24/7.

Thanks for all of your efforts,
Aaron Huslage
VoIP Team Lead

Update: FEMA or ARC Gold Card(s) or lack there of

Michael writes:

While the fog of everything is still lingering in many areas, P15's affliations with FEMA and Red Cross are voluntary efforts and should not be considered that P15 is part of either of those two agencies.

On the street and at certain levels of the overall big picture coordination efforts, P15's volunteer force and equipment and supplies coming in from donations, are being assembled and deployed on two different fronts with no one front having a priority over another (except of course in case of emergency).

The two fronts are:
(1) Provide support for identified locations needing communications assistance. See for a non-inclusive list. More are being added all the time.
(2) Provide support for those unidentified locations needing communications assistance. In this case we are sending teams (usually local WISPs if available) to areas of access (they can get in and out) that can interact with locals (police, fire, churchs, etc). Their mission is to locate any immediate communications needs in that area and identify those needs to P15
for further support.

So, we have no FEMA or ARC Gold Card (if you will).

Friday, September 09, 2005

Update: Low-Power FM Radio at the Houston Astrodome


Technology Daily

Official Blocks Radio Station For Hurricane Evacuees

By Drew Clark

(Thursday, September 8) A low-power radio station for evacuees from Hurricane Katrina that was prepared to launch Wednesday at the Houston Astrodome likely will not go on the air because of a denial by the "incident commander" at the stadium, radio volunteers said.

The station was granted a temporary FCC license and had support from the Texas governor's office, as well as city officials. But R.W. Royall, incident commander of the joint information committee responsible for emergency operations at the Astrodome complex, denied the radio volunteers' efforts to launch the station, according to many of the volunteers.

The 30-watt station has been ready for airing since Sunday at frequencies including 95.3 FM. It aims to offer news and basic emergency information to evacuees.

On Wednesday afternoon, the volunteers from the Houston Independent Media Center and KPTF -- the local Pacifica radio station -- believed that approvals for the project were in order after they secured donations for 10,000 low-cost radios.

In addition to the Pacifica radio program Democracy Now, Sony Electronics had agreed to donate the radios, Sony spokesman John Dolak said. The company is "working with the FCC and the relief agencies on the request," he said.

Because Royall's denial did not specify reasons, "I can only speculate as to what they found particularly worrisome," said Jim Ellinger, who heads Austin Airwaves, a nonprofit community radio group in Austin, Texas, involved in the project.

The volunteers had requested electricity and telephone hookups, as well as a microphone room. The denial was issued late Wednesday by Gloria Roemer, another emergency official at the center, who said the Astrodome could not the spare the electricity, according to Ellinger.

Ellinger said he could operate the station on battery power, but Roemer insisted that the denial is final. According to Ellinger, Roemer said, "Only [Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael] Brown or President Bush can override" Royall's decision.

"We are heartbroken when we are stopped from helping people who need help," said Hannah Sassaman, organizer of Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia group that promotes low-power radio. "It smacks of the same bureaucratic structure that kept food and water away from the Superdome in New Orleans."

Added Sassman, "Obviously food and water is more essential, but the first thing that people ask about when they are situated in their new place is information."

Royall is emergency operations officer of Harris County, Texas, which runs the Astrodome complex and is playing the major role in operations there. Officials from FEMA and Harris County did not return phone calls seeking comment.

"It was an emergency situation, and it is becoming increasingly irrelevant minute by minute," said Rice University professor Tish Stringer, an organizer for the media center.

Although technically the station can broadcast from the parking lot of the Astrodome, Stringer said, "I feel like I would be jeopardizing the possibility of having this happen in the future, as well as dishonoring my agreement with [the FCC]" to do so.

The PART-15.ORG WISP Disaster Relief Discussion List

Renesys releases its damage assessment

Todd Underwood writes to NANOG:

As promised, Renesys has released a brief paper on the effects of Hurricane Katrina as seen from the Internet. We cover the period of land fall in some detail and also review the recovery efforts.

People who are interested should obviously read the report (and I'm pretty sure it's on-topic, for once! This might be the secondon-topic thread today. Danger!). But highlights include:

--the Internet was fine
--the Gulf Coast wasn't
--Louisiana was hit particularly hard
--many outaged prefixes still haven't been restored, 10 days later

We're happy to take questions on the report, the data, the methodology, etc.


More casualties -- Toronto tower climbers not allowed entry into the US

Peggy writes:

Wes and Ben, the climbers from Toronto, were turned away at the border
this morning. They report being belittled by the guards because they
were taking off work to volunteer in the US. That leaves the guys in
Mississippi without climbers when the weekend crew leaves.

Michael, do you any friends in High Places? This is outrageous. As if
it wasn't embarrassing enough to be an American abroad, it just got
worse. Is there anything that can be done?

Ben and Wes were going to haul 15 computers for me. I will get back on
the phone this a.m. and try to make new arrangements.

VSAT team reaches Pascagoula

Hi folks

Just got back from Pascagoula Mississippi and here is what we found.

Power is back up in Jackson county to within 1 mile of the beach. The storm surge from Kat was 25 feet high and reached 5 miles inland at some points. The county seat in Pascagoula lost everything in the first floor of their building, principally the Sheriff's department from water 5 feet deep in the building and it was 4 miles from the beach.

Fairly reliable cell service has been restored to the Pascagoula area and none of their towers went down. Further west service becomes spotty although the Southern Link Walkie Talkie mode works in many places where the cell service does not work.

There is Gas in Pascagoula and it does not seem to be rationed.

The Sheriff's and the City of Pascagoula have lost all of their computers and the phone service. We installed a Wild Blue Internet over satellite (VSAT) dish today for the Sheriff's department although they are critically short of computers. FEMA and the U.S. National Guard have semi-reliable internet and the landlines are working in the command center there.

50% of the Sheriff's have lost their homes and 95% of the City of Pascagoula. Don't believe the crap that is in the media that these folks only need help coordinated through FEMA or the Red Cross. Churches in the area are all taking goods and redistributing them and they will take anything you bring. The government just wants money. The Churches will take money as well.

We are taking our solar generation system to the Northrup Grumman Shipyard tomorrow and installing a second WB dish. Those things rock!

Dennis Wingo, SkyCorp Incorporated

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What we're up against

Update: The NYTimes has picked up this story: link.
Our teams of wireless technicians haven't encountered these conditions, yet, but we are aware they exist. From EMSnetwork.Org.

Note: Bradshaw and Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradshaw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790.[California]

Their tale in just one of this type now appearing in many newspapers, online and with listservers. The fact they are paramedics is largely irrelevant to the tale, however, there are many EMT/Paramedic personal accounts online - some even more incredible.

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.

There was more suffering than need be.

Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

Sep 6, 2005, 11:59
By Parmedics Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky

Oh Crap! A solar flare, biggest in 15 years

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A large solar flare was reported Wednesday and forecasters warned of potential electrical and communications disruptions. The flare was reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Significant solar eruptions are possible in the coming days and there could be disruptions in spacecraft operations, electric power systems, high-frequency communications and low-frequency navigation systems, the agency said.
This flare, the fourth largest in the last 15 years, erupted just as the sunspot cluster was rotating onto the visible disk of the sun.

Larry Combs, solar forecaster at the NOAA SEC in Boulder. The flare has affected some high-frequency communications on the sunlit side of Earth, NOAA reported.

Just what we all need right now!

9/08: P15 UPDATE - This outlines the Kelly AFB Relief Project Objective

I'll put the daily (and some day's more frequent) P15 UPDATEs from 9/02 (list init time) later today. Formating may be grotty, what begins in email-oriented-ASCII ends in HTML markup.

Hi Everyone - Please understand the below is a projected plan. It was submitted almost four days ago, and many things have changed since then. We all know that plans never work as written. Everything changes minute by minute. I'm not really providing this for discussion (for right now), but more of an attempt to provide you some of the overall objective of the mission.

We can all discuss this later in greater detail, but for now the below is what is needed of us and of course will include all the variations needed along the way to make it happen.

Hope this helps everyone get a better satellite view of this particular relief effort we are all working on.



a.. Volunteers with equipment, generators, and self-support equipment (e.g., food, water, campers) can be on the ground at Kelly AFB within 24 hours of request

a.. Initial network (including voice and data) for facilities management, ARC, and FEMA officials operational within 12 hours of access to Kelly AFB

a.. Network covering 85% of Kelly AFB containment area operational within 3-5 days of access to site.

a.. Network to support voice, data, and non-entertainment video
b.. Network will include a total of 500 phones
a.. 1000 phones in a single location, or
b.. 1000 phones broken down into smaller phone banks, e.g.
a.. 5 banks of 200 phones
b.. 10 banks of 100 phones
c.. 20 banks of 50 phones
c.. Phone Banks for evacuees to call anywhere in U.S. for free on Vonage donated equipment and service
d.. 500 Mobile (hand-held) Wi-Fi phones used by Facility Management

a.. Backhaul will be provided by wireless link to SBC at 48Mbps (DS3)
a.. Equipment on hand
b.. Provisioning within 24 hours of request

a.. P15 team self-sufficient except for physical security which will need to be provided

Low-Power FM Radio at the Houston Astrodome

Harold Feld (Media Access Project) wrote on the 6th:

In addition to this track, I am working with folks who have a temporary license to provide microFM broadcasting in the Astrodome. This will allow officials to communicate with the folks inside, since the ambient noise level renders the PA system useless. But we need 10,000 FM radios to distribute to the folks inside before we can begin service.

Does anybody here know how we can get FM radios to Houston?

After discussion about the kind of radios most useful and available (not quite the same things), Harald had a process follow-up:

Ideally we would like non-battery powered portable radios, but at
this point any kind of portable FM radio will do.

We are also having trouble cutting through the red tape, despite a
letter from the FCC and a "please render all assistance" letter from
the Houston city council. Does anyone have a contact among those
giving certification to enter the Astrodome so that our people can
get in. I will provide whatever details are necessary. I have
copies of FCC emergency authorizations and 501(c)(3) determination letters.

The FCC released the following statement, also on the 6th, regarding Katrina recovery efforts. The Astrodome MicroFM effort was one of the "alternatives" that the FCC provided explicit "regulatory relief" in the letter Harald mentioned.

I'll find out what the status is of the MicroFM work, and if there is a blocking entity, what the entity and rational are for the work-stopage. Every campus-sized temporary camp can use, and should have, a local, camper-operated and camper-serving LPFM radio station.

Technical URLs

Tony Weasler (katrinaRelief at tony3 dot com) provided his stock Asterisk install notes for Debian/Linux link.

We'll all be updating this with more clue and periodically moving these over to the sidebar.

Katrina Relief tech blog roundup

URLs to track:

Welcome to WISPA - Changing the World of Communications, which has posts both on this effort and the URL below, as well as on related regulatory issues.

WISPA Wireless Crisis Center Setting up emergency communications to shelters for victims of Hurricane Katrina by WISPA and

One of the tasks posted to the p15 mailing list a few days ago was to catalog web sites related to HK. Please feel free to use the comments area to provide links to blogs and/or websites that should be cataloged, and submitted to the Internet's Memory Hole project too.

Infrastructure for the teams themselves

There was a bit of chatter on the mailing list last night about infrastructure for the teams in the field themselves. People have just plunged in, which is great, but information on projects was ending up in email, the IRC channel, voicemail boxes, or just plain lost. I wrote a little manifesto about getting it all in one place and as I was about to post I found that Mark Koskenmaki in eastern Oregon is already tasked with doing such things.

I'm not sure which package he'll pick, but something more structured than the current, chatter filled mailing list will be just the ticket.

The IRC channel needs to be manned. (HINT: want to be involved but can't travel? Here is your chance). This is vital to get remote people involved. No, AIM/MSN/smoke signals aren't going to cut it - the whole idea here is to develop a shared context so people can find out what is happening without having to synchronize.

There is some talk of setting up a conference system, but I see that numbers are being used for the VoIP team's calls, so I'm not sure what the thought is behind this, and I'm waiting to see how it plays out. This is a form of synchronization which has its place in things, but simple things should be solved by simple means - IRC, a thread on a web site, etc.

The WISP folk working on these various projects are usually from small organizations. It'll be interesting to see how people used to working as a dozen teams of five turn into three larger teams with a central command post.

Thanks To Neal, Some Links Of Note

My Thanks to Neal for getting this blog up and running and being the lead for getting information poured into this blog. With any operation like this, one of the first things to get dropped is documenting progress along the way, especially for public consumption, and with Neal as lead and multiple contributors, we hope to lessen that tendency.

Some links of note:

A primary web page for the Hurricane Katrina Wireless ISP (WISP) Relief Effort is PART-15.ORG Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts at It's getting badly dated, but I'm told that an update is in progress.

The original Boing Boing post that "outed" the FCC's initial discussions about formally involving Wireless ISPs in Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts:

The WISPA Wireless Crisis Center blog is now up and running at It will document the WISP relief efforts that are based in Rayville, LA.

Formal press releases from PART-15.ORG's Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts will be posted at Broadband Wireless Reports - which is an affiliated site of PART-15.ORG. (Yes, I know it's a bit obscure, but that's what PART-15.ORG had available on short notice.)

Shortly before it was announced that WISPs would be formally tasked to support the Relief Camp at the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, Jim Sutton and I interviewed PART-15.ORG Chairman Michael Anderson about the role of WISPs in the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort on Wireless Tech Radio. The interview can be downloaded (MP3 format) at

Washington Post article, September 4, 2005 - Unfamiliar Tasks For an Organization Used to Disaster by Ellen McCarthy. The article goes into some of what the American Red Cross has been tasked with regarding Information Technology requirements such as those the WISP industry is supporting.

Again, my Thanks to Neal for taking on this role. It was needed and it will be very useful face to the public of the WISP Relief Efforts.

Steve Stroh

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Expanded coverage of WISP relief efforts

I got out of the WISP business about three years ago and at that time Part-15 was just forming and there wasn't much else happening in the way of WISP organzations. I was talking with Steve Stroh, one of our contributors, earlier tonight, and he pointed out that both and WISPA have fielded people to help build new infrastructure, and that regional WISPs not affiliated with either group were going to be providing volunteers, bandwidth, tower facilities, and the like.

So, without too much fanfare, I've started to edit this site to be more of an umbrella site for news on the various efforts. If you know of happenings in the great reconstruction that are somehow related to wireless internet providers you can contact Neal Rauhauser, Steve Stroh, or Eric Brunner-Williams, and we'll get a story up for you.

What is GETS? (background note)

Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS)

GETS is an emergency telecommunications service available in the U.S. and overseen by the National Communications System (NCS) -- an office established by the White House under an executive order [1] and now a part of the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike "911", it is only accessible by authorized individuals. The majority of these individuals are from various government agencies like the Department of Transportation, NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (to name but a few). In addition, a select set of individuals from private industry (telecommunications companies, utilities, etc.) that are involved in criticial infrastructure recovery operations are also provided access to GETS.

The purpose of GETS is to achieve a high probability that phone service will be available to selected authorized personnel in times of emergencies, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters that may produce a burden in the form of call blocking (i.e., congestion) on the U.S. Public Switched Telephone Network by the general public.

GETS is based in part on the ANSI T1.631 standard, specifying a High Probability of Completion (HPC) for SS7 signaling [2].

Where we began was with the complete failure of Government Emergency Telecommunications Service, and everything "down rank" from that system, in the Katerina footprint, and the desire to use the fastest possible means to reestablish service.

[1] National Communications System:
[2] ANSI, "Signaling System No. 7(SS7), High Probability of Completion (HPC) Network Capability", ANSI T1.631-1993, (R1999).

Our first casualty

Mac Dearman wrote this morning that he'd fractured his tibia and his foot and leg are swollen to the size "of my wife's head", a metric previously unknown to science. Mac's crew has obtained access to towers from I-20 corridor in northern Louisiana to I-10 Corridor in southern Louisiana and east across the entire southern Louisiana that run to just west of Hattisburg Mississippi. He's looking desperatly for a couple tower climbing crews, with their own rigging and extraction gear -- just in case.

501(c)(3) Status and related items

One of the persistent questions on the part-15 mailing list is how to get resources to a 501(c)(3), and the related question of provisioning to prospective donor WISPs and the rest of the tech universe we hit up for kit, from comod wintel boxen for users to high density TDM kit to ... is an official-esque chit to square any aid with the respective resident bean counters.

This is being worked on, there are several 501(c)(3)s through which donations can be routed, and an official-esque chit with the necessary chops should be available real soon now.

Forward operations area in Rayville, Louisiana

There is a fifty acre farm in Rayville, Louisiana (little red star) that Mac Dearman has made available as a forward operating area for Part-15's relief efforts. This is (I am told) just far enough north of the destruction that they still have phones and gas stations operating.

Here is a picture of the command center at Mac Dearman's farm and a link to Matt Larson's flickr photo blog with further images of the forward operations area.

first post!

My name is Neal Rauhauser. I'm a network engineer, unix admin, entrepreneur, etc, living in Omaha Nebraska. I'm also a bit of an instigator (comes with the entrepreneur thing) and I've set up this blog to cover the hurricane relief efforts.

As of right now, 15:43 central time, 9/7/2005, Part-15 has a team of eight wireless installers operating from a farm north of New Orleans and they're installing microwave links to bring internet and voice over IP phone service back into stricken areas.

I have less details on this one, but the FCC has blessed a team of twenty five of Part-15's people and they'll be putting in a voice network for the 25,000 evacuees at Kelly AFB in San Antonio, Texas.