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Caribbean Situation Critical, Clear Frequencies Essential

09/23/2017

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) again is requesting that radio amateurs not involved in the ongoing post-hurricane relief and recovery efforts via Amateur Radio to avoid operating on or near the net’s frequencies — 7.188 and 3.815 MHz. The net is handling critical traffic, primarily for Dominica and needs interference-free channels.

“We’ve been doing what we can here at W1AW,” Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, said today. “In addition, a number of other hams have been trying to keep the frequencies clear for SATERN and CEWN.

The situation on Dominica is said to be dire, with massive power and telecommunications outages and conditions that the Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerritt, is calling “worse than in a war zone.” A transmission from Wayne Abraham, J73WA, in Portsmouth, Dominica — one of the stations still active from Dominica — indicated that he was running low on fuel for his generator.

The US military’s Southern Command Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (JTF-LI) announced today that it is relocating its base of operations from Puerto Rico — which also was hard hit by Hurricane Maria — to three Caribbean locations. The main command and control element will be deployed to Martinique, while bases for its fixed-wing aircraft will be shifted to Barbados, and rotary-wing aircraft to Guadaloupe.

“The relocation was necessary due to the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and the need to have supporting US forces closer to St. Martin and Dominica,” the JTF-LI said in an announcement. The move includes some 300 military personnel, eight helicopters, and four C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Yesterday, US Southern Command expanded the JTF-LI support mission to include the government of Dominica, including the addition of the US Navy amphibious ship USS Wasp to JTF-LI.

The US military is providing C-130 evacuation flights from Douglas-Charles (Melville Hall) Airport on Dominica during daylight hours today and is providing limited helicopter transportation for US citizens who are injured or otherwise unable to traverse the island, from Portsmouth to Douglas-Charles Airport.

US military forces continue to produce water in St. Martin. To date, US military forces have evacuated 2,073 American citizens from St. Martin and Anguilla.

Meanwhile, Ben Kuo, AI6YR, who is keeping a close ear on Amateur Radio emergency nets in the region, told ARRL that the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration contacted him for help in setting up a communications network using ham radio, because the island’s telecommunications infrastructure is compromised.

“They are working with a number of NGOs, who are hoping to airlift solar panels, radios, antennas, repeaters, and whatever is necessary to active ham radio amateurs in Puerto Rico, so that an island-wide communications network can be put in,” Kuo said. “I would not believe it if it were not happening,” Kuo added, but the government of Puerto Rico reached out to me due to my YouTube stream of all the [Amateur Radio] traffic back and forth.”

The CEWN is accepting health-and-welfare inquiries via e-mail (indicate your name and location as well as those of the party sought).

 



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