HAMs in the Storm

By: Jason Davis
By: Jason Davis

Imagine a world without cell phones, land lines and no broadcast of any kind. That's sometimes the reality in a hurricane ravaged area.

Strong winds, lighting and major flooding can bring any city to a standstill.

Bill Everette, HAM Radio operator, said, "Hurricanes have a tendency to wipe antennas off of towers, take down power, wipe out communications over a broad area."

When conventional means of communicating are gone, HAM Radio operators say that's where they come in.

Ricky Whittington, Radio Emergency Coordinator, said, "Amateur radio, or HAM Radio, is your last line of defense as far as communication is concerned after or during any disaster once you lose everything."

HAM operator Bill Whittington was part a team of over 100 radio operators that traveled to hurricane ravaged Mississippi in the aftermath of Katrina. The group formed a communication net for police, fire rescue and other logistic operations for the relief effort.

"There was nothing out left out there whatsoever. Once and while you could get a cell phone call through. It may stay up 10 seconds. It may stay up one minute before it dropped out."

Despite the value of HAM Radio operators as a viable backup communication system, emergency coordinators say not enough people are involved.

"We don't have enough amateur radio operators that are either able or will come forth and volunteer their services as emergency coordinators."

Because when your cell phone doesn't work, there's no land line and no commercial broadcast, you can still talk to the world with your HAM Radio.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a HAM Radio operator, you can log onto www.arrl.org.


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