The American Red Cross (ARC) has asked the ARRL for assistance with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. ARC needs up to 50 radio amateurs that can help record, enter and submit disaster survivor information into the ARC Safe and Well system. In the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and ARC this is the first time such a request for assistance on this scale has been made. ARRL now is looking for radio amateurs that can step up and volunteer to help our friends in Puerto Rico. There are very specific requirements and qualifications needed for this deployment.
Requirements Due to the nature of this deployment you will need to process in as ARC volunteers, including passing a background check. The ARC has indicated they will cover all expenses for transportation, lodging and feeding while on deployment. ARC will also provide liability coverage for volunteers. The only out of pocket expense to the volunteer would be personal items purchased during deployment.
ARRL and ARC will require training for volunteers being deployed. ARC will provide general deployment training and advanced training in working in austere environments. ARRL will provide to ARC training on Amateur Radio equipment and modes to be used, reporting and operating guidelines. Deployment will be for up to three weeks.
Qualifications - General class Amateur Radio license or higher - Familiarity with WinLink, HF voice, and VHF simplex communications - Strong technical skills - Ability to work under difficult conditions - Ability to deploy for up to three weeks - Ability to work as part of a team Helpful Skills - Spanish speaking - Previous experience in disaster response - Previous or current work as a Red Cross volunteer - Previous experience with shelter operations
If you feel that you meet these qualifications and would like to be considered for this deployment please contact ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-594-0222 who will make the introduction of qualified volunteers to ARC. to edit.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The FCC said 95 percent of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites are out of service in a Sept. 21 statement
“Hurricane Maria has had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico’s communications networks,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The FCC is proactively reaching out to communications providers in Puerto Rico to gather additional information about the situation on the ground and find out if there is anything that the commission can do to assist with restoration efforts. We are also working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and providing all requested support.
“Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island. But the FCC stands ready to do whatever we can to help with this task. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico.” The FCC said it will be available 24 hours a day to address emergency communications needs as Maria approaches and threatens U.S. coastal areas and U.S. territories.
Hurricane Irma, making its way through the Caribbean with the possibility of affecting South Florida by week’s end, has, in the words of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), become “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane.” The NHC urged that hurricane preparations be rushed to completion in areas now under hurricane warnings.
As of 1800 UTC, Hurricane Irma was some 180 miles east of Antigua and 185 miles east-southeast of Barbuda, with maximum sustained winds of 185 MPH. The storm is moving west at 14 MPH.
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and the VoIP Hurricane Net will activate later today. “Yogi Berra once said, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again!’” quipped HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “Just as Harvey rapidly intensified overnight, Irma did the same.”
The HWN will activate at 1800 UTC (2 PM EDT) on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz and will remain in continuous operation until further notice, Graves said. Daytime operation will begin at 1100 UTC each day continuing for as long as propagation allows. Operation on 7.268 MHz will start at 2200 UTC and continue overnight. “If propagation dictates, we will operate both frequencies at the same time,” Graves said. The HWN marks its 52nd anniversary this week.
He noted that HWN operation on 7.268 MHz will pause at 1130 UTC, and, if required, resume at approximately 1230 UTC, to allow the Waterway Net to conducts its daily net.
The VoIP Hurricane Net has announced plans to activate no later than 2200 UTC on Tuesday; WX4NHC at the NHC will activate at 2200 UTC on Tuesday. Both the HWN and the VoIP Hurricane Network relay hurricane “ground-truth” information to the NHC to assist forecasters. Any Amateur Radio operators in the affected area of Irma or with relays into the affected area of Irma are asked to provide surface and damage reports into the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the National Hurricane Center.
Any SKYWARN Nets active as Irma moves into Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands that can pass reports to the VoIP Hurricane Net for relay into WX4NHC are asked to designate a net liaison or connect directly to the *WX_TALK* EchoLink conference node: 7203/IRLP 9219. Stations on All-Star can connect to the Echolink side of the system by dialing *033007203.
IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, has compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has not yet announced plans to activate, but SATERN is encouraging its operators to start monitoring the HWN. On Wednesday, September 6, the International SATERN SSB Net will move to a Delta II (extended monitoring) status from 1400 until 2300 UTC. SATERN National Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, said that schedule could hold through the end of the week. Stations on the net will seek information on emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic; situation and hurricane damage, and communication disruptions. SATERN will not accept health-and-welfare inquiries.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that several FEMA Regions will activate the 5 MHz/60-meter band interoperability frequencies in support of a possible response to Hurricane Irma on September 5.
These suppressed-carrier reference frequencies, also known as dial frequencies or window frequencies, 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz, and 5403.5 kHz, may be used as part of the event.
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers have been pitching in to support communication at some Red Cross shelters in south Texas in the ongoing aftermath of catastrophic and unprecedented flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey, now a Tropical Depression. ARES members also have been serving as net control liaisons to the Harris County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). At mid-week, some 3 dozen volunteers were assisting at shelters. Another dozen were on tap to serve as OEM liaisons. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said the Red Cross is in need of Red Cross-trained shelter managers and volunteer management specialists.
A variety of emergency, health-and-welfare, traffic, and tactical nets in south Texas have been active on HF at various times of the day as well as on a wide array of VHF and UHF repeaters, which remain available as needed. The Salvation Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has been convening on 14.265 MHz, while the Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) has been using the 5.330.5 (USB) MHz interoperability channel on 60 meters.
On August 31, the National Hurricane Center reported that flooding rains were continuing across far eastern Texas and western Louisiana, with heavy rainfall expected to spread northeastward through the lower Mississippi Valley and into the Tennessee Valley over the next day or two. ARES volunteers are on standby in Louisiana.
Harvey from the vantage point of the International Space Station (ISS). NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston has closed to all but mission-essential personnel through Labor Day, due to the effects of Harvey. Most US astronauts live in the Houston area. JSC said closing would allow the center to focus on its priorities, including the return to Earth this weekend of ISS crew members Peggy Whitson, ex-KC5ZTD; Jack Fischer, K2FSH, and Fyodor Yurchikin, RN3FI. [Jack Fischer, N2FSH, photo]
"During the storm response, all Amateur Radio operators -- and perhaps especially those involved in contest activity -- are advised to listen first and respect any frequencies in use for emergency response communication," Corey said. He cited the SATERN Net on 14.265 MHz and the South Texas Traffic Emergency and Health and Welfare nets on 7.285, 7.290, 3.873, and 3.935 MHz. Digital emergency and health and welfare frequencies are 3.5925 and 7.095 MHz.
Earlier this week, ARES team members were advised that the impact to the region's communications infrastructure had been relatively minimal, considering the strength of the storm and the magnitude of the flooding. The storm did ravage cellular service in some Texas counties, however, especially Aransas (84%) and Refugio (73%) counties, the FCC reported. Overall, however, the FCC deemed the cellular system 95% functional.
ARRL South Texas Public Information Officer Mike Urich, KA5CVH, told ARRL on August 30 that "hardening" of the telecommunications infrastructure to make it more immune to storm damage has diminished the need for Amateur Radio communication support and altered hams' traditional role there. Urich pointed out, however, that the Amateur Radio telecommunications infrastructure in South Texas has remained analog, as "the lowest common denominator" of technology -- VHF/UHF FM, and HF -- and has the highest degree of interoperability. "That's what we train to, that's what we teach, that's what we practice," he said.
Urich spent more than 40 hours alternating shifts at the Harris County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Urich said the area's extensive system of repeaters makes it possible for local radio amateurs to serve as "another set of eyes and ears" in spotting and reporting problems that may require official attention.
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) suspended operations for Hurricane Harvey on August 26 after 51.5 continuous hours of activation. The VoIP Hurricane Net, and WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio station at the NHC in Miami, also activated as Harvey approached landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. The VoIP Hurricane Net has been informally monitoring EchoLink 7203, IRLP 9219, and AllStar *33007203 for requests from the affected area at the request of Humanity Road, said Lloyd Colston, KC5FM.
He said a station checked in via EchoLink to request the rescue of a grandmother and children. "That request was relayed to the United States Coast Guard Houston," Colston told ARRL. He said hams in the affected region needing to relay rescue needs should first call 911, then their local emergency operations center, and, if those aren't available, then the US Coast Guard -- in that order. He also said individuals in the flood zone are reporting cellular telephone degradation.
ARRL South Texas Section Manager Lee Cooper, W5LHC, told ARRL on Monday that the disaster would remain in the response phase for several days, although needs may change later in the response phase or when it transitions to the recovery phase. ARRL South Texas SEC Jeff Walter, KE5FGA, said ARES members could participate in any nets related to the storm response from home.
"Harris County and the City of Houston have issued a shelter-in-place order," Walter pointed out over the past weekend. "The local region is paralyzed. Resources are stretched to accommodate all calls for assistance. Take care of your family first, then if you are able to help in the recovery phase, contact your local Emergency Coordinator or District Emergency Coordinator for instruction on what to do. Do not show up without approval from your local EC."
As of August 31, some 195,000 customers were without power in Texas. American Red Cross shelters were reporting more than 34,000 occupants in Texas; more than 980,000 people have been ordered to evacuate. The Texas Emergency Operations Center is at full activation, and Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster for 50 Texas counties, while evacuation orders and advisories are in effect for eight counties and several independent communities in Louisiana, where the state EOC is fully activated. A state of emergency also exists for all Louisiana parishes in preparation for widespread flooding.
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