September 28, 2005
Jim & Andrew Deploy to Biloxi, MS
to assist with Red Cross Relief efforts
for Hurricane Katrina victims

Jim and Andrew's blog updates updated 10/09/05

Jim and Andrew's photos from the field updated 10/12/05
Biloxi - Waveland - Bay St. Louis
Metro New Orleans - French Quarter - St. Charles Ave.- Canal Street


BACKGROUND for this deployment

ZCZC AG22
QST de W1AW
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.

More info on the Rescue effort in general may be found at the following spots:

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This page last updated 29 Sept 2005.