ARRL

ARRL General Bulletin ARLB022 (2005)

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ARLB022 Amateur Radio continues Hurricane Rita response

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ARRL Bulletin 22  ARLB022
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  September 26, 2005
To all radio amateurs 

SB QST ARL ARLB022
ARLB022 Amateur Radio continues Hurricane Rita response

Amateur Radio volunteers have been utilizing a variety of modes,
including HF, VHF-UHF, Winlink and VoIP, to pass Hurricane
Rita-related traffic. The West Gulf ARES Emergency Net continues
24-hour operation on 7.285 MHz days/3.873 MHz evenings, with
health-and-welfare traffic taking place on 7.285 MHz days/3.935 MHz
evenings. The net also is using 7.290 MHz. The Salvation Army Team
Emergency Net (SATERN) has been activating at 1400 UTC daily on
14.265 MHz and monitoring for emergency requests. All amateurs are
requested to keep these HF net frequencies clear for Hurricane Rita
emergency operations.

Authorities were not yet allowing residents or relief agencies into
some of the hardest-hit communities in Texas and Louisiana, and it's
not known yet what Amateur Radio assistance will be needed for those
areas. Reports say downed trees and flooding are the primary
reasons. As of Sunday, officials were restricting reentry to the
Texas counties of Jefferson--where Beaumont and Port Arthur are
located--and Orange. South Texas Section Emergency Coordinator Jerry
Reimer, KK5CA, says the fact that potential ham radio volunteers
were among the evacuees created some gaps for ARES.

''Included in the mandatory evacuation areas were five ARES
emergency coordinators, one district emergency coordinator and
nearly all their ARES registrants,'' Reimer noted. ''To the surprise
of many people, mandatory evacuation orders also applies to Amateur
Radio operators, which left some key facilities short of their
last-minute expectations.'' He said it also left some county
emergency operations centers (EOCs) without operators, although the
EOC staffs knew this ahead of time.

Many ARES operators who had been positioned in advance at critical
facilities in the Greater Houston area--including police substations
and hospitals--have been released, Reimer reported over the weekend.
ARES operators remained on-duty at the state EOC in Austin, Harris
County EOC, Houston Emergency Center, and state DEM regional
headquarters (DDC).

Over the weekend, Harris County emergency management was requesting
that ARES provide reports of traffic volume on major highways
leading into the county.

Reimer said Winlink proved highly useful at the Harris County EOC,
even though there was reliable Internet and e-mail. ''The primary
mail server also hosts the OEM Web server, a key source of
information for citizens, greatly slowing the system,'' he said.

In Louisiana, radio amateurs who live north of Interstate 10 were
reported to be returning home and getting back on the air to
confront any communication needs. Louisiana SEC Gary Stratton,
K5GLS, told ARRL Sunday that southwestern Louisiana was not
requesting outside assistance from Amateur Radio operators at this
point. DEC Alan Levine, WA5LQZ, was reported checking with local
governments--many relocated to other areas--to determine needs
before ARES members were deployed from other areas of Louisiana.

ARRL Public Service Team Leader Steve Ewald, WV1X, says the
situation is changing by the hour. ''At the moment, it sounds like
radio amateurs from the affected areas and those there now are
handling the communication needs for the served agencies,'' he said.
''As areas that were strongly hit by Rita begin to open up and folks
can start to go into those areas to clean up and sort things out,
then there's a chance of a call for volunteers from outside the
region.''

The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) on 14.325 MHz secured operation
Saturday at 1700 UTC after Rita had been downgraded to a tropical
storm. The net works in conjunction with WX4NHC at the National
Hurricane Center in Miami to relay ground-level weather data to
forecasters.

WX4NHC Assistant Amateur Radio Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said
without EchoLink and IRLP modes used on the VoIP Hurricane Net,
WX4NHC would not have received some vital reports. VoIP Hurricane
Net Manager Rob Macedo, KD1CY, said the ability to connect EchoLink
PC users, EchoLink and IRLP repeaters and links via the same system
offers a lot of flexibility in obtaining reports from the affected
area including reports from amateurs who do not have HF privileges.
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