Amateur radio operators needed to help communication after Michael

Hurricane-ravaged areas still struggling to communicate after storm

By Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The North Florida American Radio Relay League is looking for local amateur radio operators to help facilitated communication in areas of the Panhandle hit hardest by Hurricane Michael.

"During the first 24-48 hours after Michael made landfall, the only communications that were available in several of the impacted counties was through HF (high frequency) radio and amateur radio operators," said Scott Roberts, with the NFARR.

Several counties with damage to critical infrastructure remain without any form of communication. In some areas, the only method of communication between shelters and emergency management is through ham radio.

A handful of volunteers were deployed from Duval County this week to assist at shelters in the Panhandle. But more are needed to help relay information and direct resources inside the affected areas.

"If they need cots, more food, or they're running low on anything, they would pass that information over radio to the state emergency operations center, or the resource centers to get them sent to the shelters," Roberts said.

Volunteers could be deployed for as long as seven days. They will need to bring their own amateur radio gear, as well as food, water, a sleeping bag and other personal supplies. 

To be deployed, operators from the state emergency operations center said volunteers must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have been vetted (background checked) by their local county emergency management.
  • Radio equipment for VHF/UHF (SARNET) HF (80M, 40M, 20M) and if possible HF winlink.
  • Antennas for radios.
  • Alternate power solar, wind, generator, etc.
  • Food and water for seven days
  • Shelter.
  • Supplies to sustain themselves in case there are no other resources available.
  • Must be capable of deployment without any downtime for a minimum of seven days.
  • Must know message and traffic handling.
  • Operators are requested to be available within the next 12 to 24 hours.

Those who fit these requirements can sign up by going to: http://arrl-nfl.org.

Interested volunteers can also email: kk4ecr@gmail.com.

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