Emergency Response to Hurricane Matthew in 2016

The call from North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) came in on October 6th, about a day and a half before Hurricane Matthew was expected to make contact with the state’s east coast. By then, the massive storm had already ravaged Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas as a Category 4 hurricane. Unsure of exactly where Matthew would make landfall in the U.S., State governments along the east coast braced for the worst.

Optimizing emergency response with GuardianAngel

TigerSwan had recently run a proof of concept with the North Carolina National Guard for the GuardianAngel platform, our premier visual analytics and tracking technology. Without any prior notice, we quickly mobilized all available assets in North Carolina to assist the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) in their Join Operations Response Center. Given Matthew’s unclear trajectory, it was all hands on deck.

To ensure that the state’s response teams maintained a Common Operating Picture (COP) for all personnel and physical assets throughout the entirety of the storm response mission, we brought our GuardianAngel platform into the operations center. The GuardianAngel phone app, satellite phones, OBD2 trackers, and other GPS/satellite-enabled devices were distributed to North Carolina National Guard personnel and equipment, State Highway Patrol units, Swift Water Rescue teams, and damage assessment teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Thanks to GuardianAngel being technology-agnostic, we were able to seamlessly integrate our situational awareness platform with the SERT’s NCSPARTA system. By layering information from both platforms together, our combined team co-located on a 24/7 basis for the next 17 days as the State Emergency Response Center executed recovery missions across all affected counties.

Emergency responders faced devastating floodwater throughout eastern North Carolina

Between October 8-9, 2016, Hurricane Matthew uprooted trees, knocked out power for more than 680,000 residents, and dumped 10-14 inches of rain on North Carolina, flooding low-lying areas and causing rivers to overflow their banks. Rescue missions were initiated the moment it was deemed safe for recovery teams.

The Swift Water Rescue teams were dispatched to navigate flooded neighborhoods. In North Carolina, there were over 600 roads and bridges impassable due to the flood water. By providing real-time, layered information from the Joint Operations Response Center, TigerSwan assisted in efficiently navigating the boat teams through the most flooded areas to arrive at distressed locations.

In total, more than 400 personnel, 77 boat teams and 12 aircraft were deployed as part of the North Carolina’s organized relief efforts. The Swift Water Rescue effort launched more than 30 teams that rescued 2,336 people and brought them to safety as Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters rose. Countless other rescues were conducted by local law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Without accurate information being relayed to rescue teams in real time, valuable time, energy, and resources would have been wasted. When the situation is as pressing as it was under Matthew’s floodwaters, the accurate and efficient coordination and communication of information saves lives.

According to the state, Hurricane Matthew caused some $4.8 billion in damage, affecting 98,000 homes and nearly 20,000 businesses. Sadly, 26 individuals lost their lives.

Integrating GuardianAngel platform assisted North Carolina’s response coordination

The impulse to respond to emergency situations is inherent in TigerSwan’s DNA. Our agile, swift approach to managing emergencies allows our dedicated men and women to maintain calm while providing heightened situational awareness through our professional expertise and our GuardianAngel platform. Our impact on the North Carolina Department of Emergency Management’s response to Hurricane Matthew was immediate. During our relief efforts, the director of operations for SERT was coming straight to TigerSwan personnel in the operations center to better understand a given situation.

Although the main legacy of Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina will be the catastrophic flooding over the Coastal Plains, the state received the international Higgins and Langley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Swift Water Rescue for the coordinated local, state and federal response to the hurricane in October 2016. TigerSwan is proud to have assisted the State’s Emergency Management team and the brave responders that navigated the floodwaters to save local North Carolinians.