FORT STEWART, GA - The National Hurricane Center (NWS), announced landfall of Hurricane Florence at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15pm Friday, September 15th, two states away at Fort Stewart, Georgia, the Soldiers of B Company, 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB), America's Signal Battalion, were standing by in case they were needed to provide life-saving support.
In the event that a mission order was published, B Company would dispatch several teams to the disaster affected areas to provide communications to first responders and other Department of Defense units tasked with recovery efforts. In the aftermath of severe storms, cell phone towers and networks can be degraded or completely incapacitated. This is critical for the 63rd ESB, because in the event those assets are unavailable, our equipment might be a first responder's only effective method of communicating with the outside world.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey during the 2017 Hurricane Season, the Soldiers of the 63rd ESB were deployed to Puerto Rico and provided the only reliable network for first responders, non-governmental organizations, and other Department of Defense entities. Bravo Company played a key role in the effort last year, deploying several teams to the beleaguered island, so they knew how to prepare their teams and equipment for Florence.
1st Lt. Thomas Allen, B Company, executive officer had this to say when asked about his company's equipment readiness for the storm, "Equipment readiness includes much more than clean equipment. Soldiers are tasked with making sure all Signal software updates are installed. Additionally, they have to validate that their equipment operates as intended on the Battalion checklist" otherwise they'll hit the ground and not be able to help save lives -- which is a really serious problem. SGT Jeffrey Reece complemented 1LT Allen with, "if the software updates are not verified by the Battalion Network Operations Staff, then we can't be sure we're ready to go… mission preparation begins with the equipment". Fortunately, the call for America's Signal Battalion never came, but rest assured, the Soldiers of B Company, 63rd ESB are standing by, ready to deploy on a moments notice, in case they are needed for any disaster.