ARES SPECIAL EDITION - HURRICANE KATRINA HAM RADIO SUPPORT

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From: "ARRL Web site" <memberlist@www.arrl.org>
 Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 01:56:07 -0400
Subject: ARES E-Letter for September 03, 2005
Message-ID: <200509030556.j835u7FS005888@linux11676.dn.net>

********************** The ARRL ARES E-Letter Special Edition September 2, 2005
**********************

Edited by Rick Palm, K1CE

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ARES reports, other related contributions, editorial questions or comments: Rick Palm, K1CE, k1ce@arrl.net 
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SPECIAL EDITION: HURRICANE KATRINA

"I know many people would like to move now. Please don't. I know many of you want to enter the fray, come to the coast and get involved. Please, not yet. Transportation and logistics, including volunteer groups coming in, must be done in an orderly manner or we may only add to the chaos and confusion." -ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP

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IN THIS ISSUE:

+ Message from Southern Florida SM Sherri Brower, W4STB

+ Volunteer Disaster Communications Registration Data Base

+ First Contact: Southern Florida's Experience

+ Gulf Coast ARES Emergency Net

+ Louisiana Situation

+ Alabama Situation

+ Mississippi Situation

+ Northern Florida Mutual Assistance Team Effort

+ On Special Assignment: Hillsborough County (Florida) ARES/RACES

+ HF ARES Net Frequencies, Other Frequencies, Key Station Activity

+ ARRL MOU Partners' Activity

+ New Product: PowerFlare might be helpful for responders

+ Editorial

+ Final Note to Deployers
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Numerous reports are coming in on the devastation and relief response, including ARES, manifested by Hurricane Katrina. This special release addresses initial ARES responses and planning. Everyone has seen the media reports and the public notices of various governmental agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations, so they will not be reiterated here. The purpose of this edition is to share early reports and stories of what our fellow ARES members are doing in the field in response to one of the worst natural disasters to beset the United States. These efforts are only preliminary, and in no way represent the total ARES effort, which will evolve over the hard hours, days and weeks to come. - K1CE
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+ Message from Southern Florida SM Sherri Brower, W4STB

"We are all concerned about the people in the path of Katrina's destruction. Many of us have friends or family in the area, others have friends and co-workers with friends or family in the area. At this time information into and out of the affected areas is sporadic. Our fellow hams are overloaded with requests for food, water and rescue. They cannot handle health and welfare traffic at this time. Nor can I. Go to <http://www.satern.org/> with such requests. [See story below - ed.]

"Here's how you can help now. Keep frequencies with any kind of relief traffic clear -- that means listen only, don't be a policeman. Have patience. If you want to go to the area to assist with communications or other activities, contact the Red Cross or other relief agencies. They have required training courses before you can be deployed, so do not be surprised if you are told "no." Donate money. Coordinate your travel offer for ARES mutual assistance with your SEC. Do not attempt to travel to the area on your own." -W4STB
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+ Volunteer Disaster Communications Registration and Message Traffic Data Base

South Texas SEC Jerry Reimer, KK5CA, adds "The immediate action is for ARES leaders in adjacent and nearby sections to identify ARES volunteers who are qualified and willing to travel into the [affected] areas." He also reported the establishment of a "Volunteer Disaster Communications Registration and Message Traffic Data Base" - see http://katrina.ab2m.net/  

He added this caveat: "Before registering, consider there are unlikely to be any hotel or motel rooms available; any accommodations that are available are likely to be primitive and makeshift. Water suitable for drinking or even washing is expected to be scarce. Unless you are presently mentally and physically prepared for complete self-sufficiency for at least several days, please do not immediately register. Not everyone needs to be in the first wave of volunteers; the recovery effort will last weeks and perhaps months, requiring an extended volunteer pool."
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+ First Contact: Southern Florida's Experience

August 25 and 26, 2005-- Hurricane Katrina first crossed paths with the U.S. in south Florida. Jeff Beals, WA4AW, ARRL Southern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator, reported that county ECs advised him of several activations and responses. In Martin County, the EOC was activated with resource and tactical nets operating in support of Red Cross HQ, shelters and the EOC.

Palm Beach and Broward Counties saw the same level of activity. Miami-Dade County ARES supported their EOC and shelters, with ARES/RACES DCAT teams assisting Red Cross with damage assessment and food distribution. Tactical communications were provided for all of the above operations. There were no activations in Glades, Lee or Hendry Counties, according to Beals. The Southern Florida ARES Net (SFAN) held four special sessions on August 25 and
26.
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+ Gulf Coast ARES Emergency Net

As Katrina exited the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, the Gulf Coast's uneasiness turned to alarm when the massive storm came ashore near the under-sea-level port city of New Orleans. A new Battle for New Orleans was soon unfolding.

South Texas SEC Jerry Reimer, KK5CA, informed us of Gulf Coast ARES mutual assistance: "The South Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi ARRL sections have had a mutual assistance agreement, primarily focused on providing net control stations for HF nets. See http://www.laarrl.org/emergops.htm .

Accordingly, the Gulf Coast ARES Emergency Net began operating Monday, August 29 on 3873 kHz and 7285 kHz, and health and welfare traffic nets are operating on 3935 kHz and 7290 kHz."

As of today, Friday, September 2, the West Gulf ARES Emergency Net remains active on 7285 kHz days and 3873 kHz nights, handling emergency and priority traffic only. The net has been operating 24/7. Health-and-welfare traffic is being handled on 7290 kHz days and 3935 kHz nights. [As this is being written, I am listening to the net on 7285 kHz: they are performing a very professional job. -ed.]

Other sections are also providing mutual assistance. See related stories below.
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+ Louisiana Situation

Early on, Louisiana SEC Gary Stratton, K5GLS, said ARES teams were on hold since no one was allowed to go into many areas of southern Louisiana. Following assessments, the nature of the ARES role could be determined. Louisiana SM Mickey Cox, K5MC, said that Richard Webb, NF5B, from New Orleans was on the air from the Louisiana State University Hospital. He had reported early that sections of New Orleans were under water. Louisiana Assistant Section Manager Mike King, W5MP, from Slidell, also was on the air Monday helping provide communication from a hospital on the north shore of Lake Pontchatrain.

Now, ARES in Louisiana is supporting various relief organizations. Stratton said most efforts have gone toward assisting with emergency management and search-and-rescue operations. He says he has ARES members ready to roll once state authorities reopen the hardest-hit parishes that have been closed off to outsiders. "We have people on standby from all over northern Louisiana and from the South Texas Section basically champing at the bit trying to find out when they can go," Stratton told ARRL. "It's a very tough wait."

Volunteers have been or will be deployed into the areas that are not cordoned off, Stratton said. He also said most of the emergency activity has been on HF, as repeaters were knocked out or have exhausted emergency power resources. He noted that some systems north of Lake Pontchatrain were coming back on line, however, as power is restored. ARES volunteers from Bossier and Caddo parishes are being deployed into areas that are still open. "We're handling a lot of traffic from down there that ends up being made by cell phones from people in the affected area to relatives to people up here in Shreveport," Stratton explained, "and they call the 911 center in the Bossier area, and we have a radio link from our EOC to Bossier." From there the traffic goes onto the HF net.
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+ Alabama Situation

Staff in Newington also talked with Alabama SM Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, by telephone, in northern Alabama. Power outages occurred as Katrina moved through the northern Alabama region, bringing flooding rains and high winds. SKYWARN nets were very active, too, according to Sarratt, who handled a volunteer shift at the Huntsville National Weather Service (NWS). ARES groups throughout the state and especially in central and south Alabama were providing communications for their local emergency management agencies, and Red Cross chapters.
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+ Mississippi Situation

Mississippi Section Manager Malcolm Keown, W5XX, in Vicksburg, was initially reported on the air using generator power. His area had no electrical power or telephone service, so reports so far have been scant. We did receive this: "the West Gulf ARES Emergency Net will activate . . . check-ins will be limited to served agency representatives as well as stations with emergency, priority, and weather related traffic or stations in the affected storm event area with information or inquiries."

Radio amateurs wanting to volunteer for ARES work were advised to contact their District Emergency Coordinator or county Emergency Coordinator. A list of the Mississippi DECs and ECs is available on the section website: see http://www.arrlmiss.org .

Now, ARES members are active in the three hardest-hit counties--Harrison, Hancock and Jackson. Assistant Mississippi SM Edwin Franks, AD5IS, reported people have been calling him at home to get information about friends and relatives in the stricken area. DEC Thomas Hammack, W4WLF, in Gulfport, has been among those volunteering at the Harrison County EOC. Amateurs in the three counties have been using HF, VHF and UHF resources to support emergency management as well as the Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Baptist Men's Kitchen. Amateurs also have been handling considerable health-and-welfare traffic, he said.

Mutual Assistance to Mississippi: About a half dozen radio amateurs, including the aforementioned Alabama SM Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, were preparing to head to Jackson, Mississippi, as part of a Southern Baptist Disaster Relief trip. They will provide communications and other assistance for the relief group. Another group from Alabama will be heading on to southern Mississippi or Louisiana once assignments are confirmed.
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+ Northern Florida Mutual Assistance Team Effort

Storm riding veteran and Northern Florida SM Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, is gathering a team to assist neighboring Mississippi upon clearance and coordination by the Florida State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). Northern Florida SEC Joe Bushel, W2DWR, stated that radio amateurs going should be prepared to spend a week in the area. VHF, UHF and HF capabilities will be needed as well as digital, ATV and SSTV modes. Bushel asked DECs for lists of volunteers. "Do not depart without a Florida-issued Tracker Number," advised Bushel and Hubbard. Tracker Numbers will only be available from them. The Northern Florida ARES Net (3950 kHz) and Phone Net (3940 kHz) are good sources for deployment information.
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+ On Special Assignment: Hillsborough County (Florida) ARES/RACES

Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, Hillsborough County EC, reports that his ARES/RACES organization has been tasked by the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) to deploy the State of Florida Emergency Deployable Interoperable Communications System (EDICS) and the State of Florida Mutual Aid Radio Communications (MARC) Unit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in support of Hurricane Katrina recovery operations.

In addition to the public safety communications equipment they will be deploying, team members will interface with Amateur Radio, the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), and the Federal government's SHARES HF radio system. They will also attempt to pass health and welfare traffic via amateur radio.

The team was also tasked with providing communications support locally in Tampa for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) airlift of hospital patients from the flooded hospitals in New Orleans to local hospitals in Hillsborough. ARES/RACES operators are stationed at Tampa's airport and at the Hillsborough County EOC to track plane landings and patient head count information.

The team that was selected to deploy had taken the required courses, including the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course (ARECC), and have specific skills needed to accomplish the mission.

[Late note: This team is en route to the affected areas as this is being written-ed.]
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+ Known ARES HF and VHF Operations

The following is a list of ARES net frequencies that may be active, courtesy of East Central Florida DEC designate Jay Musikar, AF2C:

3873 kHz Louisiana ARES Emergency (night)
3873 kHz Texas ARES Emergency (night)
3873 kHz Mississippi ARES Emergency
3910 kHz Mississippi ARES
3923 kHz Mississippi ARES
3935 kHz Louisiana ARES (health and welfare)
3935 kHz Texas ARES (health and welfare)
3935 kHz Mississippi ARES (health and welfare)
3950 kHz Northern Florida ARES
7273 kHz Texas ARES (alternate)
7285 kHz West Gulf ARES Emergency (day)
7285 kHz Louisiana ARES Emergency (day)
7285 kHz Mississippi ARES Emergency (day)
7285 kHz Texas ARES Emergency (day)
7290 kHz Texas ARES (health and welfare)
7290 kHz Louisiana ARES (health and welfare)
7290 kHz Texas ARES (health and welfare)
7290 kHz Mississippi ARES (health and welfare)

Other reported frequencies:

7298 kHz Kessler AFB, Mississippi operator is Alan Deaton, KU4WN.
7666 kHz Kessler AFB, Mississippi (Note: this frequency is outside the amateur band).

VHF Operations:

444.200 MHz pl 114.8 New Orleans repeater is operational and EOC in Baton Rouge is monitoring; 147.380 MHz North shore of Lake Ponchartrain; 147.241 MHz pl 114.8 is operational from East Jefferson in New Orleans.

Active Station Operations in Affected Areas:

WB5LHS [Louisiana Office Of Homeland Security And Emergency Preparedness Club Station], Baton Rouge EOC and links to FEMA;

W5SLA [Ozone Amateur Radio Club] Slidell (Louisiana) National Weather Service Office;

Larry Kirchner, KG7FF, Meadow Crest Hospital in Grenta, Louisiana;

Danny Smith, KC5EST, EOC Bay St Louis, Mississippi (between New Orleans and Biloxi);

Tom Miller, AC5TM, working on Levee Pumping Stations;

Bruce Kachline, KD4WDD, in port at Oak Harbor Marina, Slidell, Louisiana, accepting incoming e-mail to KD4WDD@winlink.org ;

Oris Grim III, N4CND, hauling materials for FEMA;

N4ARC, American Red Cross, Orlando, Florida.
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+ ARRL MOU Partners' Activity

American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross is providing a safe haven for nearly 4,000 evacuees in more than 230 Red Cross shelters, from the panhandle of Florida, across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas. The Red Cross is launching the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster involving thousands of trained disaster relief workers, tons of supplies, and support. The Red Cross relies on donations to do its work. The best way to help is by making an online contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund at: http://www.redcross.org/ .

More Red Cross:

Earl Leach, WX4J, relayed this ARC message: "The Red Cross has the same problems with communication as the general public. We heed all directions from public officials, and do not enter areas until they are deemed safe. The Red Cross does not have information on the well being of any individuals. Our phone lines are being overwhelmed with calls, and we appreciate the desire to know how people fared during the storm. Medical and government officials will contact families in serious cases if necessary. The best way to help the Red Cross assist those affected by the storm is to remain patient and help us keep our phone lines open for emergencies only."

The Salvation Army:

Reports have the Salvation Army's SATERN net handling more than 12,000 H/W message requests. The net directs inquirers to the SATERN web site http://www.satern.org  with the on-the-air SATERN net looking for emergency traffic only. There has been "no traffic out of the storm zone at this time."

Look for the SATERN net on 14.265 MHz, or possibly 40-meters as conditions dictate. SATERN National Net Director Jim Adams, WA0LSB, says the net is activating daily at 1400 UTC and continuing until 20 meters closes. "We estimate that approximately 1000 Amateur Radio operators are checking into the SATERN net each day," he said. "Most of them have traffic and are an excellent source for relays and traffic handling. Each day, we are able to pass many pieces of traffic."

An ARRL report had SATERN volunteers helping with rooftop rescues: "Amateur Radio was instrumental in saving several stranded flood victims this week in Louisiana and Mississippi."
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+ New Product May Help: PowerFlare Safety Light of Possible Use for Deployments

An ARES EC and police officer, Kenneth Dueker, KB6BPM, in Palo Alto, California, has invented the PowerFlare Safety Light http://www.powerflare.com . According to his note, the PowerFlare safety light is about the size of a hockey puck, contains ultra-bright LED lights, and is durable enough to be run over by large trucks. Uses include: traffic safety, illumination and signaling in emergency (earthquake, hurricane, power failure) light, and Emergency Response Teams.

The safety product is built in California and is currently in use by law enforcement, fire departments, and other first responders, as well as road construction and other users. ARRL and ARES members may be interested in PowerFlare. Source: Kenneth Dueker, KB6BPM, PowerFlare Corporation President and CEO, e-mail: kdueker@powerflare.com 
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+ Editorial: Interoperability a Key Role for Amateur Radio

National Public Radio (NPR) featured a brief interview with a Louisiana state senator yesterday, who made the observation that their biggest problem is communication among the various responding agencies. That comment brought back memories: interoperability among agencies has been a long time, deeply entrenched problem, and is fostered in part by poor coordination and planning, or to put it less politely, "turf protection." It's a manifestation of human nature and organizational behavior, I suppose.

Reader Don Lamont, WD5AAH, commented: "My only problem is that I have watched TV all day on the terrible destruction caused by Katrina and listened to the government complain about communications. Will we spend another billion dollars on communication gear that won't work when they need it or will we call out the amateurs to provide the communications."

So, here we have a new event that presents another perfect opportunity for ARES members: fill the interoperability gap. That opportunity will manifest itself in countless places, with countless agencies in the days and weeks to come, as the Gulf Coast slowly recovers. When the time comes for post-recovery evaluations, ARES may find itself written into more inter-agency communication plans, with more government and agency support. At least that's what we should work for, when we get to that point down the long, hard road to come. -- K1CE
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+ Final Note to Deployers:

"Caution" should be the keynote of those ARES members getting ready to deploy to the affected areas. Make no mistake about it: you are going into harm's way. There will be the usual gross hazards-the weakened buildings and trees, the water, and debris. And there will be unseen hazards from the microbial world. Before departure, see your local clinic for shots that will likely include tetanus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, among others. Be sure that you are prepared physically to endure a harsh environment, without the usual creature comforts, including a bathroom. Also be prepared for the mental hazards: you will see things that will be psychologically disturbing. You will endure fatigue that you have never felt before. It is a fatigue that you will feel to the core of your being.

But, know one more thing: We on the periphery will be with you in spirit, and will be in front of our radios to support your efforts by relaying your messages and offering words of encouragement. We are proud that you are one of us. - K1CE

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The ARES E-Letter is published on the third Wednesday of each month by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111;

tel 860-594-0200;

fax 860-594-0259; 

http://www.arrl.org/ .

Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President.

The ARES E-Letter is an e-mail digest of news and information of interest to active members of the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).

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