October 30, 2018
TULSA, Okla. – Earlier this month, the most intense hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1969 made landfall on the Florida panhandle. At top sustained winds of 155 mph, Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 hurricane when it struck, the first of its kind to hit the panhandle since records began in 1851.
On Oct. 10, Tyler Cline, Cherokee Nation Businesses’ IT support operation technician, was going through his normal work routine.
“I knew we had Florida employees but didn’t really think about it possibly affecting anyone,” Cline said.
Two days later, Cline received a phone call from Chris Baker, an engineer for Cherokee Nation Technologies living in Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Tyndall, which is located near Panama City, took a direct hit as the storm ravaged the Florida panhandle.
“His exact words were, ‘So I assumed you’ve heard about the storm going on. I’m down here in Florida, and I was in my house when the roof got ripped off,’” Cline said. “Obviously, I felt terrible, but in my mind, I was thinking, how am I supposed to help from here?”
However, Cline would eventually serve an integral role in helping Baker figure out his next steps.
When the storm hit, it ripped off the roof of Baker’s home. He grabbed his cat and his work computer and braved the remainder of the storm inside his truck. After the storm passed, he found his way to an area with power and a small hotel.
Baker’s personal laptop was submerged in water at his house, and he was having difficulty remembering the passwords to many of his personal accounts. He attempted to login and use his work computer to manage his more important accounts and to apply for FEMA assistance but was blocked by security software.
“He told me his only other option was to go buy a new laptop,” Cline said. “I didn’t want him to have to do that with everything else he was going to have to handle now.”
Cline and Baker continued trying. Cline said the call was probably close to an hour long, but at first, nothing he tried would work.
Finally, Cline was able to use a companywide communications application to give Baker remote access to vital information stored on his personal computer, which allowed him to unlock his accounts.
“We got him into his Gmail, and that was the whole thing so he could use the account to fill out the FEMA application,” Cline said. “He was ecstatic. He was at the point of thinking he had to get a new computer, and it saved him from doing that. Now he can spend that money on things like clothes, food and everything else.”
Baker was very grateful for the assistance he received, going as far as sending an email to various co-workers, managers and even Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.
“I’m now able to keep myself connected. Search for a storage unit and secure it. Visit the house and save family heirlooms, and move from this distant hotel to closer where I am,” Baker wrote in an email.
Cline’s supervisor, Cameron Gray, was also impressed at his ability to help Baker.
“Kudos to Tyler to get Chris back up,” Gray said. “It was kind of funny, because Tyler thought that maybe he did something wrong by letting him access his computer, but I think common sense shows he did the right thing.”
Todd Gourd, senior vice president of IT and chief information officer for CNB, also commended Cline for going the extra mile to help Baker.
“I’m extremely proud of Tyler and his efforts to assist Mr. Baker. Tyler’s efforts are consistent with what we see from him and other members of our IT organization every day,” Gourd said. “It’s a tremendous feeling knowing that we have helped one of our CNB co-workers in a time of unbelievable disruption for that individual.”
Cline says the call was eye opening, especially for the day he was having.
“I was having my own bad day, but he called and was chipper and was an inspiration,” Cline said. “I’ve been here almost six years so I’ve received some calls, but this is one of the biggest. I’ve talked to executives and employees in other countries and states and have been able to help, but I’ve never impacted someone that much. It was the same result, but totally different.”
Cline hopes this can be a lesson not only to him, but to anyone who may have to call the CNB IT Service Desk.
“A lot of people call in with a bad mood — and that is understandable because something isn’t working — but when they call, I hope they now know we are here to help,” Cline said.