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Puerto Rico Amateurs Beefing Up Hurricane Preparedness


September 20 is the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria's devastating arrival in Puerto Rico. Today, many amateurs there are better prepared for the next storm or other disaster that could disrupt conventional telecommunications. With this in mind, the ARRL Puerto Rico Section is hosting monthly meetings in various cities around the island commonwealth as part of an effort to establish an Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization in Puerto Rico, to be headed by Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and Section Emergency Coordinator Juan Sepulveda, KP3CR. The overall initiative would involve recruiting volunteers and holding topic-specific workshops on several topics:

  • Using Winlink to send emails over the air, using radiograms, introducing the National Traffic System (NTS), and explaining the new ARES online filing system. Presenters would be Section Traffic Manager Pedro Irizarry, KP3PI, and Section Technical Coordinator Carlos Roig, WP4AOH.
  • Constructing NVIS antennas for local HF communication, updating the WP4MR repeater system, where various nets take place, and assembling an Amateur Radio “Go-Kit” for portable emergency communication.
  • Continuing to build relationships with hospitals and municipal emergency management agencies, as well as maintaining the ones established with the Red Cross and the Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority (PREPA-AEE).

Based on the new Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau (PREMB – NMEAD) zone divisions, a 2-meter simplex band plan has been developed, in the event that repeaters go down. Many simplex drills and nets are taking place on a weekly basis.

At a September 8 meeting, it was decided to create a new formal net for handling formal traffic via the 145.410 MHz repeater located in the El Yunque summit. Radio amateurs living in the US Virgin Islands were invited to participate as well. Eventually an HF net will be available to send formal traffic to the NTS nets in the US mainland. The 2-meter net is set to start on September 24 at 2200 UTC.

Special event station K1M will be on the air September 20 – 28 to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. “Kilo One Maria” was the call sign used by US Amateur Radio volunteers deployed to Puerto Rico as Red Cross volunteers to help with hurricane recovery. K1M will operate on or around 14.292 MHz and 7.188 MHz. — Thanks to Puerto Rico Section Public Information Officer Angel Santana, WP3GW



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