IEEE MOVE Provides Disaster Relief to Those Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Volunteers are needed to assist with cellphone charging and wireless connectivity

28 August 2017

I have worked in many places in the United States and overseas, and this week my heart is in Texas, a place that has touched me in many ways. I have lived in both small towns and big cities in this great state, and I currently reside in San Antonio. I consider it home.

The devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Harvey, which has displaced an estimated 30,000 people so far from their homes, has brought me to tears. I have been concerned about the safety of those I know in areas hit the hardest.

While flooding is not new to Texas, this natural disaster has been deadly. Over the course of a day, the storm devastated some 50 counties in the state. Much of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is now under water. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency said it is probably the worst disaster in Texas history.

As the National Guard and nongovernmental organizations stepped in to help, I was touched to see IEEE also join in the recovery efforts. The IEEE-USA mobile outreach vehicle—IEEE MOVE—headed to Houston. The vehicle is equipped with portable cellphone chargers and Wi-Fi so residents can contact family and friends, and find a place to stay. The IEEE MOVE project, which was started up by members, partners with the American Red Cross to determine where the vehicle will be most effective, whether that’s a shelter or in hard-hit neighborhoods.

Members of the IEEE Central Texas Section took immediate action and volunteered in various locations throughout the state. They are offering technical assistance on the MOVE vehicle. Some are also getting their employers on board to volunteer or donate, and are posting information on social media.

At this time, however, more help is needed. The recovery efforts will be ongoing as families spend weeks, if not months, in temporary shelters. To get involved, email move@ieee.org.

If you can’t be there in person, you can donate to the cause. Each IEEE MOVE deployment costs up to US $25,000, which is covered by the IEEE Foundation through contributions from IEEE members, but more is needed. You may donate any amount through the Foundation’s website.

IEEE Senior Member Qusi Alqarqaz is an electrical engineer with more than 27 years of experience in the power industry. He writes about technology, works as a consultant, and mentors students. He is a contributor to The Institute as well as the The Analog, a newsletter for the IEEE Central Texas Section. He previously worked in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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