Just thought I’d post a little bit about how we’re using FreePBX/Asterisk in our Gustav Response.
First of All, Vicksburg MS is about 200 Miles north of New Orleans. We’re a town of about 26,000 people. During Katrina, based on sales tax revenues and other indicators we hosted about 10,000 evacuees…about 10% in shelters. With Gustav, we’re expecting about the same thing. We’re far enough inland where we do not get the direct effects of the storm, but for this storm we’re expecting 56-60 mph winds in gusts later today.
During KATRINA, we had an Asterisk test system up, and we were called on to have telephones put into a command center. We used the test system, and had the command center equipped within an hour. Partly based on this, we decided to switch to an Asterisk based system as the City’s Primary telephone system. Two years ago, in July, we began migrating users from the CENTREX system. As of today, we have about 150 users online, have reduced our phone bills by $3000 per month.
As it became apparent that GUSTAV would be a threat to our area last week, we began implementing our Emergency Action Plan, which included outfitting a temporary command center with phones and providing a hotline for local residents and evacuees to call for recorded info. We’ve also been able to quickly reroute phones to other locations, move phones from one location to another, set up conferences. In fact, we’ve had a number of requests from the Emergency Operations office for “strange” configurations, but we’ve been able to accommodate them fairly easily.
Sun is just coming up here today, only light winds so far. I’ve been watching CNN since about 0500 this morning as they report from the French Quarter. I get down there every couple of months…just for fun…and it kind of chokes you up to see such familiar sights under the gun. God speed to the people along the Mississippi and Louisiana Coasts.
Anyway…just wanted to let everyone know how we’re using FreePBX/Asterisk, and to thank Philippe and all of the developers. I’m sure there are other stories like this throughout the area, but you guys are making a difference.
City of Vicksburg