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ARRL “Ham Aid” HF Gear Arrives in Micronesia in Wake of Tropical Cyclone

04/17/2015

An ARRL “Ham Aid” kit of HF gear has arrived in Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as part of a relief effort in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Maysak. The Ham Aid equipment accompanied a shipment of radio gear, tools, and supplies that John Bush, KH6DLK/V63JB, took from Hawaii to FSM last week. Tropical Cyclone Maysak ravaged many of the nation’s islands in late March and early April, wreaking major damage and causing some deaths. ARRL Hawaii Section Manager Bob Schneider, AH6J, said he spoke with Bush via a phone patch established through the station of Richard Darling, AH7G, and Barbara Darling, NH7FY.

“John is now on Falalop Island, which is part of Ulithi Atoll, in Yap state,” Schneider reported. “John said the Ham Aid kit was next to him in the shack, so it made the trip all the way. He plans to deploy it at the dispensary.” Bush serves as technology coordinator for the Federai Elementary School in Ulithi.

Schneider said Bush stopped first on Yap Island, spending a couple days talking to government and civil authorities concerning recovery planning and the school situation. Bush told Schneider that Yap Island suffered little damage. Bush reported that the airport on Falalop Island was damaged but operational. “He reports most buildings — including his own — were destroyed,” Schneider said. “The operations building at the airport, high school and a couple others had damage but were stronger than most buildings. The high school lost its roof and the computer lab was flooded, along with all the computers.” Bush told Schneider that there is a massive amount to debris all around.

Bush was able to borrow two 60 Ah batteries on Falalop, and replacements are in one of the cargo shipments coming from Guam. He also has two small, sealed batteries that he was able to transport on his flight. Suitcase solar panels that Bush transported from Hawaii have worked very well, Schneider said, adding that Bush suggested that the ARRL obtain a couple as these units as power backup in isolated areas, as part of the Ham Aid package.

Bush told Schneider that the HF equipment was working well and that he prefers to operate during daylight, since electrical power has not yet been restored on the island. “The power company is replacing poles, and it may take some time to get commercial power back,” Schneider said.

Schneider said Bush had not yet made his way to any of the other islands in Ulithi Atoll, such as Federai. “Second-hand reports from those are grim,” he said, and responders have been in short supply.

With a population of about 103,000, FSM is comprised of four states over 600 islands — about 1800 miles from end to end. Typhoon Maysak struck Ulithi Atoll with 160 MPH winds, with gusts to 195 MPH — a Category 5 storm. A major storm surge of unknown height also hit, and infrastructure on most islands, including schools, homes, and the power and telecommunication systems, suffered major damage or were destroyed altogether.

The ARRL is a member of Hawaii State VOAD, an organization of non-governmental organizations that provide disaster relief. Other organizations pitching in include church-affiliated groups, the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the International Organization for Migration, USAID, and Pacific Missionary Airlines.

Schneider has requested the Amateur Radio community to listen for relief traffic on HF, but not to interrupt if vital communications are in progress.

Ham Aid kits containing both HF and VHF/UHF gear had been shipped to Hawaii last fall, as the massive Puna volcanic lava flow threatened some communities on the Big Island of Hawaii. It includes both HF and VHF gear. Only the HF gear was sent to FSM.

Ham Aid equipment is available on loan from ARRL to Amateur Radio organizations for disaster responses, when communication equipment is in short supply or not available. For more information, ARRL Section Managers may contact Emergency Preparedness Assistant Ken Bailey, K1FUG.

 



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