Puerto Rico Disaster Reports, Oct. 16, 2017

Puerto Rico continues to struggle following the recent hurricanes.

Here is a link, to an ARRL report on ham radio operators sent down to assist with communications. Note the references to generator fires, generator failures, hospital evacuations, and shortages of food, fuel and water.

This week, the team relayed a request for Culebra Hospital, which reported that a generator fire had forced relocation to a nearby clinic. In addition, volunteers relayed a request from Culebra Hospital that it needs temporary housing from FEMA for necessary staff members who lost their homes in the hurricane. The team also relayed a message for Hima San Pablo Hospital in Fajardo, which needed specialized IV fluids for a 4-day-old infant.

Rob Landon, KE8AMC, stationed at the hospital on Vieques, learned from the hospital administrator that they needed to evacuate dialysis patients, who require air conditioning that the hospital is unable to provide. “We made their day,” said Hotzfeld. “They were not aware of our presence and were impressed with our communications capabilities.”

Val Hotzfeld, NV9L (left), and ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U.

An Amateur Radio operator has been assigned at Centro Medico (Medical Central) to provide communication between the center and other hospitals. “This happened just in time, because the Menonita (Mennonite) Hospital in Caguas had both generators fail,” Hotzfeld said. The emergency room doctor at Medical Central and the ham embedded there, Juan Trujillo, N0PSF, coordinated with Dennis Perez, WP4Q, at the Mennonite Hospital in Caguas to transfer four critical patients to the Mennonite Hospital in Cayey.

Volunteers at the EOC relayed a request from Guayana Hospital for snacks, water, and a generator. Their second generator was reported to be about to fail. They also relayed requests from hospitals for fuel and water, and they provided communication for fire departments contacting the EOC.

Brushbeater blog posted a short Reflections on Puerto Rico, discussing communications preparations in light of lessons from Puerto Rico.

So upon reading this, a serious skill assessment should be in order. If you’re the communicator in your group:

  • Can you rig your own wire antennas?
  • Do you have the rough calculations to make them resonant?
  • Do you have the current consumption of your various radios written down and a way to monitor it?
  • How long can you operate battery-only?
  • Do you have enough spare equipment to keep your station up if Murphy happens?
  • Do you have a working knowledge of different propagation modes (such as why NVIS does what it does)

But most important- how many people can also do what you do in your group?

Four deaths and ten suspected of infection are being investigated as possible cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread by animal urine, possibly from drinking contaminated stream water.

Meanwhile some desperate Puerto Ricans are reported to be drinking possibly toxic water from superfund cleanup sites. 34% of Puerto Ricans are still without access to fresh drinking water.

Rotting garbage may be the next health crisis there.

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria ransacked this island leaving at least 44 dead, Jose Vargas surveyed street after street lined with mounds of soaking garbage mixed with mud, trees and sometimes dead animals.

You couldn’t make a better breeding ground for rats, roaches and all sorts of nasty diseases, the public health volunteer said. And every day the fetid piles stay there, the risk of an epidemic grows.

“We’re already building the next disaster,” he warned.

ARRL: Radio Amateur on St. Lucia Relays Hurricane Reports

From ARRL.org, Radio Amateur on St. Lucia Relays Reports of Hurricane Devastation on Dominica, a reminder of the usefulness of alternative communications methods during a disaster:

As “potentially catastrophic Hurricane Maria” is headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Frans van Santbrink, J69DS, on St. Lucia checked into the VoIP Hurricane Net to relay damage reports he gathered via repeater conversations with hams on Dominica, which was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Maria.

He recounted a damage report from Kerry Fevrier, J69YH, in Roseau, Dominica. “Trees down, river has flooded half the village, cars are all over, most houses have lost their roofs or are destroyed, the area between his house and the church is just flattened…in his words, ‘devastation is total,’” van Santbrink told the net.

He also heard from J73CI, who has lost his roof; J73WA on the northern end of the island, who lost his tower and was uncertain how he was going to weather the back end of the storm, and J73MH, who also lost his roof and was “just hunkering down and hoping for the best.”

Click here to read the entire article

ARRL: Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up for Hurricane Irma

 

From the American Radio Relay League, Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up as Irma Strengthens to Category 5:

Hurricane Irma, making its way through the Caribbean with the possibility of affecting South Florida by week’s end, has, in the words of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), become “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane.” The NHC urged that hurricane preparations be rushed to completion in areas now under hurricane warnings…

The HWN will activate at 1800 UTC (2 PM EDT) on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz and will remain in continuous operation until further notice, Graves said. Daytime operation will begin at 1100 UTC each day continuing for as long as propagation allows. Operation on 7.268 MHz will start at 2200 UTC and continue overnight. “If propagation dictates, we will operate both frequencies at the same time,” Graves said. The HWN marks its 52nd anniversary this week.

He noted that HWN operation on 7.268 MHz will pause at 1130 UTC, and, if required, resume at approximately 1230 UTC, to allow the Waterway Net to conducts its daily net…

IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, has compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.

  • Puerto Rico: 3.803, 3.808, 7.188 MHz. Radio amateurs in Puerto Rico also will cooperate with the HWN on 7.268 and 14.325 MHz.
  • Cuba: Daylight hours, 7.110 MHz (primary) and 7.120 MHz (secondary); Provincial Net — 7.045, 7.080 MHz, and on other lower frequencies as necessary. Nighttime, 3.740 MHz (primary) and 3.720 MHz (secondary) and on other lower frequencies as necessary.
  • Dominican Republic: 3.873 MHz (primary), 3.815 MHz (secondary), 7.182 MHz (primary), 7.255 MHz (secondary); 14.330 MHz (primary), 21.360 MHz (primary), 28.330 MHz (primary).
  • Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN): 3.815 MHz and 7.162 MHz (when necessary). NOTE: Net will activate continuously starting this evening until the hurricane has passed through…

The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) reminded licensees this week that FCC rules address operation during emergencies. “These rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations,” the FCC said.

Read the whole article by clicking here

Hurricane Harvey: Whole Community Response

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

Amateur Radio Prepares for Hurricane Harvey

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.

Related:

Harvey Regains Strength, Hurricane Watch Net Plans to Activate

National Hurricane Center – Harvey

Weather.com – Hurricane Harvey