Katrina's impact on communications infrastructure: roundup

Here's a quick roundup of some of reports around the web about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the region's IT systems. Landline, cell, and electrical systems in the area have been devastated.

Snip from a NetworkWorld story on incoming tech aid:

The Red Cross tomorrow expects to begin deploying a host of systems it will need, including satellite telephones, portable satellite dishes, specially equipped communications trucks, high- and low-band radio systems, and generator-powered wireless computer networks, said Jason Wiltrout, a Red Cross network engineer.

Nine specially designed Ford Excursion sport utility trucks, dubbed Emergency Communications Response Vehicles (ECRV), include various radio systems that allow communications on a wide range of frequencies across disaster areas, Wiltrout said. The vehicles haveVery Small Aperture Terminal generator-equipped satellite dishes that can help establish communications in the absence of working phone lines and cell phone towers.

Each of the ECRVs also has 10 VoIP satellite phones and at least 10 wireless laptops, as well as a selection of portable, tripod-mounted satellite dishes used for communications after the storm's winds have eased.


Snip from an Orlando Sentinel article about damage to two NASA sites:

Hurricane Katrina damaged two NASA facilities on the Gulf Coast Monday, casting doubt on the space shuttle's chances of launching in March. The Michoud Assembly Facility east of New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., both were located along the main swath of the storm's devastation. No casualties were reported and no buildings were destroyed at either site.

Snip from a PC World story about cellular service failure and recovery efforts:

Patrick Kimball, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, said the floodwaters now pouring into the city from nearby Lake Pontchartrain have made a bad situation worse. (...) Flooding in New Orleans is what's having the most disruptive effects on cell phone network repairs, because the hardware is still submerged under feet of water, Kimball said. Power for the cellular service would not be as big an issue because some 90 percent of the cell phone towers and other equipment in the area have their own backup generators. The floodwaters are also affecting land-based fiber-optic telephone lines and systems used by other companies, further complicating efforts to get communications back into service, he said.

Here's an NPR story about ham radio operators helping in rescue and recovery efforts: Link (streaming radio segment in Real and Windows)

A Hollywood Reporter story looks at tech challenges for news reporters covering the story on site: Link.

This New York Times story examines efforts to keep newspaper production going in affected locales, by turning to the web: Link

Reader comment: Mike says,

The latest news would seem to indicate that the Michoud Assembly plant, where they build the big booster tanks, is fine.