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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB096 (1998)

ARLB096 Amateur Radio provides lifeline in Central America

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 96  ARLB096
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  November 5, 1998
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB096 Amateur Radio provides lifeline in Central America

Ham radio is playing a major role in rescue and relief efforts in
storm-ravaged Central America. Media reports from the US indicate
that hams in the Southern US are active in handling
health-and-welfare traffic to and from Honduras and Nicaragua, both
of which suffered death and destruction at the hands of Hurricane
Mitch. Hams in Nicaragua who are still on the air also have been
using Amateur Radio to coordinate rescue and relief efforts there.

ARRL radio gear that saw service several years ago in Puerto Rico
after Hurricane Hugo and in Hawaii after Hurricane Iniki now is on
its way to Honduras. ARRL Field Services Manager Rick Palm, K1CE,
reports that five 2-meter hand-held transceivers and two 2-meter
mobile units have been shipped to Omar Paredes, HR1OP, via his
sister, Lidice Paredes, HR1LPS/W4, in Miami. Omar Paredes is
affiliated with the Club de Radio Aficionados Central de Honduras in

Responding to a request that came through the Hurricane Watch Net,
Palm says a 2-meter repeater also will be sent to missionary Kenton
Brown, KC8CXW/HR3, for a club in La Ceiba. The repeater will
facilitate mainland communication with the islands of Roatan and

The equipment, part of the League's disaster communications
inventory, will be on its way Friday on a Honduran World Foundation
relief flight. The League also has made arrangements with WACOM in
Texas to purchase a duplexer at a reduced cost. The duplexer and an
antenna for the repeater will be shipped next week.

Lidice Paredes, HR1LPS, has been in touch with her brother on a
regular 20-meter schedule. ''Every day is worse,'' she said November
5 of the news she's been getting from home via ham radio. ''The city
is in complete devastation.'' Lidice Paredes said her brother, a
pharmacist, has told her that there is only enough drinking water
available for another two or three days. Flooding and mudslides have
isolated some residents. Others are still awaiting rescue from trees
and rooftops.

''A lot of ham radio operators lost their homes, their equipment,''
she said, but hams like her brother who are still on the air have
been attempting to coordinate their disaster response activities.
''It has not been very easy. It's taking a long time,'' she said.

As her brother indicates a need, she's been helping from the US to
obtain and ship necessary medicine and supplies. Lidice Paredes also
has been working with Miami-area TV stations to relay news from the
disaster area.

Media reports also indicate that the Texas Baptist Men relief group
is coordinating its efforts via ham radio in Nicaragua and Honduras.
The organization has sent a planeload of supplies to Central

While the Hurricane Watch Net stood down after Mitch was downgraded
to a tropical storm last week, other Amateur Radio nets have
continued to be active. The Mexican Hurricane Net was active on 7055
kHz. A Central America Emergency Net also has been active on 7090
kHz. Octavio Miranda, TI2OHL, in Costa Rica reports the only contact
is via ham radio, with limited help from some military helicopters.

The Salvation Army SATERN Net on HF has been assisting with
emergency, logistical, and health-and-welfare traffic.

The unofficial death toll is approaching 10,000, and another 13,000
people are still missing. The remnants of Mitch hit the southwest
Florida coast November 5 but was reported to be less of a danger
this afternoon.


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