SITREP #1: Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane KatrinaEastern MA Section Manager Mike Neilsen, W1MPN writes:

Hello to all…

As many of you know, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast area with devastating results to the residents of New Orleans, Gulfport/Biloxi, MS, and Mobile, AL. As of this writing, the situation in the most of the area is grim. What are we to do? This is the subject of this note.

I will elaborate in this note, but here are the bullets:

…Get your information from the media. Their coverage is excellent and extensive. Refrain from crowding EchoLink and IRLP links for your own personal report. If you would like to volunteer to be a VoIP or HF NCS, please contact Rob, KD1CY, our SEC.

…Use our long standing Health & Welfare NTS system to get information on your relatives, or those of friends and neighbors. Remember, it will be very difficult to get a request TO your relatives. We are standing by to receive any word FROM impacted relatives and friends in the next days and weeks. Please contact Jim, N1LKJ, our STM, Rob, KD1CY, Mark, KB1EKN, our ASM, or me by email (preferred) or phone for assistance. All of our contact information is listed on our website . Further information appears below.

… If you want to volunteer to help in the impacted region, it is commendable but it has to done correctly. There are two avenues you can pursue as a ham. The first is to volunteer directly with agencies such as the American Red Cross (ARC) and Salvation Army, etc. They will give you further instructions. The other avenue is through EMA ARES. At this time, however, we have not received any request to activate or assist. If we receive a request for individuals to assist, we will pass that to you. In the meantime, DO NOT SELF ACTIVATE. Due to the dire circumstances in the area, we need to receive necessary clearances from local authorities before anyone can proceed into the area.

…If you are volunteering other talents, please contact appropriate agencies directly.

…This is an excellent time to explain the workings of amateur radio to your family, neighbors, and friends. Yesterday, many agencies there were relying on Amateur Radio after their normal communications paths had failed.I am taking the liberty of pass Rob’s message so all in the Section can see it. I apologize to many of you for the duplication.

Begin Quoted Message=============

Hello to all….

Hurricane Katrina made three landfalls across the Northern US Gulf Coast and caused catastrophic damage as it affected Southeast Louisiana, Southern Mississippi and Southern Alabama. Katrina tore roofs off homes and caused wall damage, downed thousands of trees and power lines, totally destroyed some homes and caused 70-80% of the city of New Orleans to be under water as 2 levees were damaged. Communications infrastructure was also severely damaged. Katrina was a large hurricane that spread a path of hurricane force winds almost 150 miles inland and was a hurricane for 13 hours after landfall as it spread that damage of hurricane force winds inland.

There have been some inquires concerning contact into the affected area by people who have loved ones in those locations. Jim Palmer-KB1KQW, ARES Emergency Coordinator on the North Shore had one such request as did the President of the SEMARA Club, Don Manley-N1PMB.

I would strongly recommend formulating such traffic into a routine or Health & Welfare NTS traffic message. You can then pass this message through one of the local NTS traffic nets in Eastern Massachusetts. Information on Eastern Massachusetts traffic nets can be obtained at the Eastern Massachusetts NTS web site, located at the following link:

Please make sure to have the contact’s full name, address and phone number.
While phones maybe down and the person may not be at their home, that information maybe helpful to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to locate the person if they are in a shelter.

If you cannot get on one of the local NTS traffic nets, you can pass the traffic via Packet or you can send an email to our ARES EC for NTS liaison, Gil Follett-W1GMF or our Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Traffic Manager, Jim Ward-N1LKJ. They can also answer any questions that you may have as well. The email addresses for Gil and Jim are listed below:

N1LKJ-Jim Ward
W1GMF-Gil Follett

Eastern Massachusetts ARES provided front-line support for WX4NHC, the National Hurricane Center in Miami Florida, for the VoIP Hurricane Net. The VoIP Hurricane Net connected a handful of EOC’s, served agencies, and spotters/Hams in the affected area of Hurricane Katrina. Connection was made with the Louisiana State EOC in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, the Mobile, Alabama EOC, and a handful of Hams and Spotters in the affected area. Indirect contact was made with the NWS Forecast Office in Slidell, Louisiana which lost all communications except for Amateur Radio as winds reached 135 MPH and caused significant building damage to the office. Contact was also made with the ARRL Assistant Section Manager in Mississippi and the Louisiana ARES Section Emergency Coordinator.

An offer of assistance from Eastern Massachusetts ARES was made and maybe reiterated once a day’s worth of damage assessment is complete.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Amateur Radio Operators and citizens in the Northern US Gulf Coast who have suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert Macedo (KD1CY)
ARES SKYWARN Coordinator
Eastern Massachusetts ARES Section Emergency Coordinator Pager #: (508) 354-3142 Home Phone #: (508) 994-1875 (After 6 PM) Home/Data #: (508) 997-4503 (After 6 PM) Work Phone #: 1-800-445-2588 Ext.: 72929 (8 AM-5 PM) Email Address:

End of quoted message=================

If you want to help indirectly, cash donations made directly to reputable agencies such as the ARC are usually best. Please do not leave food and cloth stuffs at agency locations or at state agencies. Be wary of phone and email solicitations which will undoubtedly increase in the coming days and weeks.

God speed to those affected in the area. Thanks in advance for your help in this matter. 73,

/s/ Mike
Michael P. Neilsen, W1MPN

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