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Philippine Amateur Radio Association Activates HERO for Typhoon Mangkhut


With Typhoon Mangkhut (locally Ompong) threatening, the Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) activated its Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HERO) at a Code Yellow level on September 12, per a declaration from PARA Chief Operating Officer Roberto Vicencio, DU1VHY. At Code Yellow, stations are advised to ensure that all equipment is operational, check backup power sources, and take any necessary precautionary measures. For the first time ever, the Philippines National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) had authorized PARA/HERO volunteers to communicate directly with NTC’s regional offices during the pending emergency, rather than through the NTC headquarters.

Typhoon Mangkhut was the strongest typhoon to strike Luzon Island since Typhoon Megi in 2010, and the strongest typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines since Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. A Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, Mangkhut was packing nearly 150 MPH winds, with gusts of more than 180 MPH as it approached a predicted September 14 landfall on extreme northern Luzon Island. The storm inflicted widespread destruction, with heavy damage to structures and caused landslides. More than 80 people lost their lives as a result of the storm. Evacuations were ordered in several regions. The storm went on to wreak heavy damage in Hong Kong.

In the Philippines, volunteers Tonyo Casuga, DV1XND, and Aurell Rabena, DV1YMK, immediately activated PARA club station DX1PAR on 24/7 basis. The next day, DU1IVT, DU1VHY, DU1UGZ, DU1EIB, and DU1GG were expected to leave for Cotabato City in Mindanao for a HERO orientation seminar. PARA Director and former COO Thelma Pascua, DU1IVT — who had been scheduled to travel to Mindanao for a HERO orientation seminar — remained behind to oversee the activities of HERO volunteers on 40 and 2 meters and to coordinate with the various NTC regional offices. More than a dozen volunteers stepped up to help.

Club station DX1ARC activated its Echolink node, and Ronald Hernandez, DU2RD, fed reports to HERO until September 15 or until telephone and internet services began to return. Rollydel Tamin, 4F2RV, contributed reports from Isabela Province.

When the storm brought gusty winds and a lot of rain to Metro Manila on the evening of September 14, HERO experienced a sustained string of check-ins, with no fewer than 150 stations reporting from the start of the activation. According to HERO, reports also streamed in continuously on 2 meters in Metro Manila and nearby areas, while affiliated clubs activated their own HERO nets and passed whatever reports they received to the HERO emergency frequency. During the HERO activation, DU Net was called four times a day, aside from the continuous reports on weather conditions and monitoring of affected areas on 7.095 MHz.

In central Luzon, PARA District 3 Manager Edilberto, DU3JA, supervised the activation of the NTC Region 3 station in San Fernando, Pampanga. NTC regional offices in Region 1, CAR, Tuguegarao, and Region 3 all coordinated with the HERO network on 7.095 MHz in addition to the regular NTC net frequency of 7.404 MHz, also staffed by ham radio volunteers at NTC headquarters. HERO reports included the status of telecommunication services and electrical power in the affected areas, as well as reports on casualties, flooding, and health-and-welfare traffic.

Several stations in the less-affected areas of Mindanao and Visayas supported HERO by acting as relay stations during periods of poor propagation. HERO activity for Mangkhut (Ompong) stood down on September 16. 



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