Hurricane Nets Start to Stand Down from Gustav, Get Ready for Hanna
The Voice over Internet Protocol Hurricane Net (VOIPWX) has deactivated for what was Hurricane Gustav -- now Tropical Storm Gustav -- as it hammers the Gulf Coast with heavy rainfall, flooding, storm surge and even tornadoes. The VOIPWX Net had numerous EchoLink and Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) nodes from the affected area on the system; several stations from outside of the affected area provided critical information from contacts within the affected area. As operators stand down from Gustav, the Net is preparing for tropical storms Hanna and Ike, as well as monitoring the progress of Tropical Depression 10.
"The Net did exactly what we were intending," said Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net Rob Macedo, KD1CY. "It provided a very high level of disaster intelligence gathering and situational awareness for WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center, as well as other regional and national agencies."
VoIP Public Information Officer Lloyd Colston, KC5FM, stations on the VoIP Hurricane Net recorded sustained measured winds of 100 MPH in Houma, Louisiana before spotters in that area lost their wind instrumentation. "A measured wind gust of 78 MPH was recorded in Slidell, Louisiana. Due to high winds, many trees and wires were downed and roofs were torn off structures. A ham operator reported that the large span roof and a wall of the Houma Convention Center were severely damaged. Reports out of New Orleans indicated several wind gusts of 101 MPH. Another ham reported a levee break in Scarsdale, Louisiana that was stabilized by sandbaggers," Colston said.
Roof damage and flooding from storm surge was also reported in parts of Southern Mississippi while the Southern Alabama area suffered significant flooding on the Bayou Serra River with a flood stage that crested around 5 feet over flood stage. A complete listing of reports is available on the VoIP Hurricane Net Web site.
Macedo said that the N5OZG repeater link in New Orleans and the KG4VVO link to the W4IAX repeater were critical nodes in the affected area: "They were two of almost 25 nodes and EchoLink PC stations from inside the affected area supporting the Net. We recognize every single station that provided us critical reports and information and appreciate their sacrifices in providing us this information."