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Amateur Radio Volunteers Still Dealing with Florence's Aftermath:

from The ARRL Letter on September 20, 2018
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Amateur Radio Volunteers Still Dealing with Florence's Aftermath:

Conventional telecommunications are starting to return to normal in some communities affected by Hurricane Florence, but the now long-gone storm set up others for persistent and record-breaking flooding, primarily in eastern North Carolina and along several of the state's rivers. The storm, which made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, primarily affected the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia.

"Things are back to normal communication status, and demobilization is occurring for folks deployed," South Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Billy Irwin, K9OH, said on September 19. At mid-week, the FCC reported that nearly all cellular service had been restored in South Carolina.

Over the weekend, ARES volunteers from several South Carolina counties had pitched in to support emergency communication in the face of power and telecommunication outages and heavy rainfall. ARES Richland County Emergency Coordinator Ronnie Livingston, W4RWL, said volunteers in his county staffed the county Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Red Cross. operators at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) kept in contact with field volunteers in Marion and Dillon counties after conventional telecommunications failed there.

ARES District Emergency Coordinator EMEA Area 3 Earl Dean, W4ESD, said ARES deployed assets as well as personnel who coordinated with the appropriate agencies. Horry County ARES and ARRL South Carolina Section Public Information Officer (PIO) Gordon Mooneyhan, W4EGM, said radio amateurs set up and organized communication networks to assist local government and emergency agencies, as well as to handle health-and-welfare traffic for affected residents, to let their family members outside the affected area know they were all right.

In North Carolina, storm surge had caused flooding in many communities. Ham radio volunteers responded in counties along the coast, including Wilmington, Topsail Beach, Jacksonville, and Morehead City, staffing both EOCs and shelters. Farther inland, numerous ARES teams activated in the face of river flooding to address a combination of sheltering needs for local residents and evacuees. Communication throughout the state has been supplemented by neighborhood-based operators, who reported emergencies to county EOCs. The FCC reported on September 19 that nearly one-third of cell service was out in Columbus, Pender, and Onslow counties. The storm also took out several broadcast outlets in the state.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN http://www.satern.org/) activated on September 14 and 15. The net's primary mission was the receipt and delivery of outbound health-and-welfare messages from affected areas.

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN http://www.hwn.org/) shut down its activation for Hurricane Florence after 38 hours, shortly after the storm made landfall. The HWN operated on two frequencies simultaneously -- its "home" 20-meter frequency of 14.325 MHz and its 40-meter frequency of 7.268 MHz.

"While propagation was not good on 20 meters for the period, 40 meters afforded a fairly consistent contact with stations in the area," HWN Assistant Manager Stan Broadway, N8BHL, recounted. Broadway said nearly 200 stations checked in, and the net took in approximately twice that number of reports, funneling important information via WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC). "Many were not at severe levels, but all 'ground truth' [reports] assist in plotting the activity of the storm," Broadway explained. WX4NHC monitored the HWN and the Voice over Internet Protocol Hurricane Net (VoIPWX http://voipwx.net/) on EchoLink Conference WX-Talk, node 7203 or IRLP 9219.

While the storm was still out in the Atlantic, ARRL shipped Ham Aid http://www.arrl.org/ham-aid kits to the affected region -- the same ones that ARRL volunteers took to Puerto Rico a year ago to assist with disaster communications following Hurricane Maria. The ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response team activated on September 12 and remained operational into the weekend. W1AW suspended its scheduled bulletin and code practice transmission on September 14.

Source:

The ARRL Letter

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