delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 36 NUMBER 10

ARES News

Donn Rooks, K8AOK Delaware County Emergency Coordinator

Are we blessed living in central Ohio or what? 

No hurricanes, no tsunamis, no glaciers passing through in at least a few thousand years, no 50 inch rain storms, no 50 inch snow storms and rarely a tornado anywhere in the state.  It's like living in an ARES vacation zone.  Sure we have to tolerate gray skies in the winter, sometimes for days on end, but nothing we need to get worked up about. Then there's those lucky people living on the gulf coast in sunshine and gulf breezes, at least that's the case between hurricanes.  East coast is usually fairly nice too, between hurricanes and high humidity.  West coast rarely sees a hurricane but usually has a fire out of control somewhere.  Here, not so much.  A few weeks ago it was the west coast on fire while the east coast was drowning. I've seen numerous reports and stories about the devastation in Puerto Rico and some of the other islands.  Horrific devastation, to say the least.  Some areas were flattened.  No electricity in the near future, no water, no food and roads covered in rubble and downed trees making it near impossible to get food and water to the people.  The supplies are getting to the islands but getting them to the people is the challenge.  Communications is practically nil with the exception of a few hams getting messages out to families and to various government agencies.  A couple of temporary repeater sites have been set up but 146.52 simplex has been the go to frequency.  The ARRL recruited and found 50 ARES member hams to go to Puerto Rico and set up two-man teams with HF radios, dipoles, cables, batteries and small generators to set up across the island.  Their mission, to get message traffic outbound to families living in the states.  No inbound traffic at this time, however.  The league is providing the gear through Ham Aid. For the first time ever it was the Red Cross which requested the hams to come help and it is they who will fly them out to the island, house and feed them.  Sound like something really neat to do?  Not.  You would have to have a strong stomach to live in the devastation among people whose lives have been shattered.  And there's little else you could do but send out messages. Meanwhile they are hungry and thirsty with no home to sleep in and little in the way of temporary shelter.  It would be heart breaking and it will take years to restore the island.  My hat is off to all of the people going to Puerto Rico and the other islands to help.  The Red Cross volunteers, Hams, our military personnel, FEMA personnel and many, many others.  I heard on Friday some 15,000 people have been sent along with container ships full of supplies and emergency air lifts.  Their challenge, get the supplies in the hands of the people of Puerto Rico.  And our challenge as hams is to listen for traffic coming out and help get it into the right hands and donate to those charities doing the most good.
Reminder: Statewide tornado drill October 5

Ohio ARES 

Stan Broadway, N8BHL

Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator

When it hits the fan

Our S.E.T.  is a record-setter. Thanks to Matt Curtin, KD8TTE, our exercise brought a much wider variety of participants than ever before.  With commitments from many county ARES groups, the Military Reserve, Ohio National Guard, MARS, FEMA, and multiple states as far away as Alaska, Matt opened up a playing field larger than ever before.  And, he spent hundreds of hours preparing this to military precision- with accepted federal exercise standards and evaluation following the exercise.  Black Swan After Action Reports and exercise ratings will help Ohio ARES step to the next level!  My hat’s off to Matt for his hard work. I promised him a pay raise(!?)  Thanks to all of you who joined us on the playing field!  The key here is 1.) Are we prepared and 2.) How can we do this better? It DID hit the fan all across the south thanks to record-setting hurricanes. The media attention may have moved on, but many are still digging out, trying to figure out what to do. Based on New Orleans after Katrina, I expect that Houston as a major population center will never be the same. We will be able to visit after a couple years and there will still be scars. It’s the same across the Gulf, and the outlook for the Islands isn’t even that positive. Ham radio has been featured in many articles as being a critical force in reestablishing communication into and out from the stricken areas. Even now, ham volunteers have been requested to travel with Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations as the people struggle to create an infrastructure from dead scratch.  Thanks to those who did go, and encouragement to those qualified who may yet be called. This is not a short-term event.  One observation from all of this. The slogan, “When all else fails…” is good PR. But honestly, there is a stopping point. After the hurricanes raked across the outer islands, our “usual bunch of folks” was nowhere to be heard. It was a stark realization that some of their islands had been ~completely~ flattened.  Instead of being able to deftly attach a battery to a radio and toss an antenna into the trees, they awoke to a true “Flat earth” situation. There were no more trees for antennas. There was no shelter. And I realized again that the priorities of life apply: survival trumps emergency response. Life trumps hobby.  And so we all should be prepared to fill in the gap when that happens! My communication with the Florida SEC was constructive- I offered any help he needed, and he responded with sincere thanks, but thought he had the resources needed. We all need to work together!  But in the flurry of requests for aid came a set of guidelines that I thought was good stuff.  Number one: cash is king!  Volunteers were urged to carry $500 because there essentially is no such thing as a credit card.  Number two: medications and other personal supplies. There are some conditions which will nix our ability to respond: cpap, some diabetic supplied (most insulin breaks down in very warm atmospheres), other conditions that would hold us back in the heat. Number three: regular battery packs for our handhelds…our kits should include the battery case designed to take regular AA batteries. We should also bring enough of those to last for a long period. Recharging nicad/l-ium is not guaranteed. Same with phones- you may not be able to recharge.  Plan on that while expecting to  take  pictures!!  We’re entering the fall / winter period- a time when our normal activity slows down. So let’s plan on doing stuff to improve our group!  Now’s the time to work up a good training calendar. Maybe get involved in contesting to sharpen your operating skills. And don’t forget the ARES VHF Simplex contest and NVIS day next year!  Never too early to plan.
© DELARA News, the official monthly newsletter of the Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware, OH