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Amateur Radio Volunteers Activate Following California Flooding


Amateur Radio volunteers with the Sonoma County, California, Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) rallied to assist in February after heavy rain led to flooding in the region. San Francisco Section Manager Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, told ARRL that while no actual communication emergencies occurred during the weather event, Sonoma County ACS volunteers provided “needed eyes” and were available in case further assistance was needed. Sonoma County ACS Radio Officer Dan Ethen, WA6CRB, said heavy rainfall on fire-scarred areas resulted in flooding along the Russian River.

“During February, the Sonoma County Auxiliary Communications Service activated, providing communication services to the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department,” Ethen reported. “On February 13 and 14, ACS volunteers staffed the Sonoma County Operational Area Emergency Operation Center. Mobile ACS Field Units were assigned to patrol the burn-scar areas that were a result of the Complex Fire Storm in October of 2017.”

“All-Hazard Road Patrols” observed and reported downed powerlines and trees, mud[slides] and landslides impacting traffic flow, and debris issues that posed problems with water drainage and road flooding,” Ethen said.

From February 26 – 28, ACS Volunteers staffed the Sonoma County Operational Area Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the Graton Fire Incident Command Post (ICP). They provided back-up communication capability between the EOC and ICP to support the evacuation of residents in the Russian River flood area. Sonoma County recommended on February 26 that residents living near the Russian River evacuate, after the river was forecast to crest at nearly 46 feet by the following evening.

ACS volunteers continued “All-Hazard Road Patrols” while operating on the countywide 2-meter repeater system. “Mobile patrol units were also tracked on APRS and visible to the EOC radio operators to ensure safety and accurate location reporting of any observed hazards,” Ethen said.

“ACS volunteers remain ready to serve their communities,” Ethen said. “We currently have 131 dedicated and trained communication volunteers focused on supporting our communities throughout Sonoma County.”

Sonoma County ACS supplements government disaster communication on a volunteer basis. It is a part of local government and operates under the authority of the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department. Volunteers provide communication between the County and its jurisdictions, county and city governments, and neighboring county governments.




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