Hams Ready to Respond to Iowa Floods
News of the flooding in Iowa has been leading the nightly newscasts for days. But according to ARRL Iowa Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Snapp, NA0R, "While flooding here in Iowa is a disastrous event to individuals and business affected, only a very small percentage of Iowa's land mass is directly affected by actual river flooding. Thanks to advance warnings from government agencies, loss of life has been very low." Only one fatality has been reported in the Iowa floods.
Snapp said that Iowa amateurs were active in SKYWARN events over several weeks prior to the start of flooding events. On the morning of June 12, the Iowa State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) requested activation of the Amateur Radio station in the SEOC (KC0EEC) to provide alternate communications with Linn County EOC (Cedar Rapids area) and Jones County EOC. KC0EEC was manned round the clock, but Snapp said he knows of only one piece of traffic that was passed.
"We have access to the SEOC e-mail program, since that is where we would enter messages coming in by Amateur Radio," Snapp said. "Many, many requests came in and were handled by SEOC staff. Jones County closed their EOC Saturday and the Linn County EOC dismissed the Amateur Radio operations late on Saturday, June 14 and the SEOC station was closed."
Snapp said that on June 16, Iowa SEOC requested information on Amateur Radio communication abilities in southeastern Iowa "in case of communication breakdown in that area. Currently, there is no widespread Amateur Radio activity in Iowa dealing with the floods."
About 20 years ago, Snapp said that Iowa installed a fiber optic backbone to all 99 Iowa counties: "This system has been updated and refined over the years, and is very robust redundant system. All the Iowa County Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinators have e-mail access directly to the Iowa SEOC for requests or to get questions answered."
The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency at the SEOC has supplied the amateur community with ham equipment: an HF transceiver, an HF/VHF transceiver and tri-band VHF/UHF and dual band VHF/UHF transceiver. "If the Iowa SEOC needs Amateur Radio communications, they will contact us," Snapp said.