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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB016 (1998)

ARLB016 Hams help in aftermath of Florida tornadoes

ARRL Bulletin 16  ARLB016
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  February 27, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLB016 Hams help in aftermath of Florida tornadoes

Hams pitched in to help in the aftermath of intense storms and
tornadoes in Central Florida that killed more than three dozen and
injured hundreds of others.  The tornadoes and heavy thunderstorms
struck early Monday while most people were asleep, surprising the
residents of the affected areas between Daytona Beach and Orlando.
Many were left homeless by the storms, now being called the
deadliest and most destructive in Florida's recorded history.
Weather observers blamed the tornadoes on the El Nino weather

ARRL Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Nils Millergren,
WA4NDA, said the tornadoes mostly affected Florida's East Central
District, while the West Central District--Sumter County in
particular--experienced flooding.  At least three Red Cross shelters
were reported open in the days right after the storms struck.
Millergren says amateurs were providing communications for shelters
and had put in hundreds of operator-hours in Sumter County alone.
Seminole County ARES/RACES member Allen Wilson, WB7BCI, was among
dog-handler hams activated to assist in the search and rescue
effort.  Other hams were involved in damage assessment and in
providing backup communication to relieve already-congested
commercial systems.  Net operations on 2 meters continued this week,
and volunteers still were being solicited in Northern Florida.

Osceola County--the only county in the Southern Florida section
affected by the storms--was said to have been hardest hit.  Osceola
County EC Christopher Hammock, KE4DUJ, spent several days at the
county Emergency Operations Center.  Osceola has a small ham
population.  Southern Florida SM Rip Van Winkle, AA4HT, reports hams
from outside the county--particularly from Polk County--were helping
out.  Van Winkle said Osceola ham operations in support of the
emergency wrapped up February 26.

President Clinton visited the affected area this week.  Damage was
reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars.  Curfews were
imposed in some areas to deter looting.


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