The ARRL released their after-action report on the 2017 hurricane season. Click here to download the pdf. (11MB file) This is actually a bunch of separate reports glommed together, so it doesn’t read very smoothly. Much of it does not get into very good detail on what went wrong and what could be improved, but it looks like they spent more time on that at the ARRL level rather than the responder level.
From the Puerto Rico response, what amateur radio equipment did you need but not have?
Items mentioned included electrical tape/duct tape, volt-ohm meter, cable ties, SO-239 connectors, insulators, soldering iron, 50′ runs of coax and barrel connectors, mini mag-mount VHF/UHF antenna, VHF/UHF J-pole antenna, compass, headset with boom mic and footswitch, extension cords, power strips, hook-up wire, wire strippers, end-fed antenna, cheat sheets for radios.
From the Puerto Rico response, what did you add to your kit and where did you get it?
Generally, additional equipment was acquired through the Red Cross, FEMA, fire stations, local radio amateurs, or home improvement stores. Items acquired were left with the Red Cross in San Juan. Items included: Extension cords, antenna wire, car battery, hex nuts (used as weights for antennas), rope, notepads, pens, markers, electrical tape, crimpers, wire connectors, pulleys, shackle, slingshot, power strip, coax seal, HP OfficeJet printer, printer paper, headphones, batteries, terminals, PVC pipe, hose clamps, tape measure, power inverter.
The key observations offered on lessons learned included (Puerto Rico):
- Clearer chain of command
- ARRL representation at the staging point
- Deployable VHF repeaters
- Better screening of volunteers
- Screen out those who have no experience in Amateur Radio disaster communications
- Screen out those who have no experience in the needed forms of communications
- Factor in personality to the screening process; some personalities are not suitable for such deployments
- ARRL needs to provide education to Red Cross on the capabilities of Amateur Radio
- ARRL representative on site during deployment (at JFO/EOC)
- Form a national response cadre that is pre-screened for deployments such as this
- Smaller and lighter Ham Aid kits
- Encourage radio amateurs to volunteer with Red Cross Disaster Services Technology
- Language was a barrier; being bilingual is important
- Clearly defined list of capabilities of all deployed volunteers
- Substantive pre-deployment briefing
- Substantive debriefing
- Better net structure
What do we need to change? (Irma and Maria)
- Radios worked well. Possibly replace Icom IC-7200s with IC-7300s for consistency and ease of use.
- Make sure every radio is digital-capable, with all needed cables and accessories.
- Vetting process.
- Improve training, especially with digital communications.
- Multiple band antennas or several antennas for individual bands.
From The Christian Science Monitor, In all-hands-on-deck response to Harvey, lessons learned from earlier storms:, discussing the hybrid government/community/individual response to the disaster in Texas.
Ahead of the storm, there were questions about whether Texas-style self-reliance or a centralized, civil-defense-era response from the federal government should govern. But as an all-hands-on-deck response to historic floods has unfolded, the all-of-the-above support exemplifies something new, disaster experts say: a template for what the nation’s top emergency managers call “whole-community” response. It’s a dramatic shift since hurricane Katrina in how the United States prepares for natural disasters, encompassing everything from agency leadership in Washington to Mr. Sherrod and his sturdy compatriots from East Texas.
“I do think we’ve seen a change,” says University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, author of “An Army of Davids,” in an email. “But the real difference isn’t citizens getting involved, it’s the willingness of responsible officials to see that involvement as a plus rather than a potential problem. I think the excellent record of civilian volunteer responders in the post-9/11 record is behind that willingness.”…
During Katrina, some rescuers literally had to sneak into the city to help. In Houston, the Cajun Navy has been part of a massive volunteer response, encouraged by officials. Twelve thousand National Guardsman also are being deployed, the government announced Monday.
The Cajun Navy represents both literally and figuratively the importance of neighborhood social networks – what researchers call “social capital” – that has become increasingly part of national response to disaster.
Click here to read the full article
From the ARRL, Array of Amateur Radio Resources Readying for Hurricane Harvey Response:
Amateur Radio resources are marshaling to assist in the response to Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to make landfall along the Texas coast on Friday (August 25) as a Category 3 storm. It would be the first storm to hit the US coast in more than a decade. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) already has swung into action, as the storm, which bears the threat not only of high winds but extensive and life-threatening storm surge flooding. Nearly 3 feet of rain could fall, if, as predicted, Harvey stalls along the Texas shoreline. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said he and his staff are keeping close watch on Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Watch Net
The Hurricane Watch Net activated on August 24 at 1500 UTC on 14.325 MHz, subsequently shifting to 7.268 MHz at 2300 UTC. The net planned to operate overnight and will resume daytime operation on 14.325 MHz at 1200 UTC. “Should band conditions dictate, we will operate both frequencies simultaneously,” Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said.
Click here to read the entire story
Click here for ARRL Texas incident plans for Hurricane Harvey, including HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies. There are many frequencies in the plan.
Harvey Regains Strength, Hurricane Watch Net Plans to Activate
National Hurricane Center – Harvey
Weather.com – Hurricane Harvey