View Full Version : Disaster Preparedness

Mr. Ham
09-15-2014, 03:55 PM
Does anyone on this forum believe that if there is a Disaster that the government is going to run right out and save you?

A local ham radio club had a meeting a couple of months ago.
The topic for the presentation after the meeting was Disaster Preparedness and Digital Modes.

My friend took a straw pole and found that out of the 36 members in the club, only 10 of them had a working HF radio.
Out of 36 members in the club, only 12 of them had a Two Meter Mobile radio installed in their vehicle - the rest were all walkie talkie people.
The same was true with their home stations - only 10 of them had a Dual Band or even Single Band VHF / UHF radio in their shack, with a working antenna and power supply.
The rest were all operating with a handheld radio, checking into their local club net - from time to time, with their No Traffic.

Of course there was NO TRAFFIC - because they never did anything amateur radio related during the week!

When my friend tried to show them how to operate digital modes, they all refused to BUY a sound card interface, and only two of the 10 that had a working HF radio had a modern HF radio - that had a serial port and didn't have tubes.

This club was considered to be the Premier amateur radio club in the area.

When my friend tried to explain to them the attributes of being able to operate digitally in times of trouble, it went in one ear and out the other.

My friend asked the group - what would happen if you had a flood here tomorrow, Who would respond, how would you respond, what would you do if your repeater died?

The whole group laughed because they lived on top of a mountain, in a secluded valley and the flood waters had never struck their town, because they lived near the source of the local river.

The very next day, the clouds turned black, the skies opened up and the rain fell in inches per an hour and the river swelled and overflowed and the town was under water in just a couple of hours.
The river divided the two sides of the town and the one fire company's building was right next to the river and they were basically trapped until the water receded.

The electric went out, followed by the one local repeater being taken off the air for scheduled service by the county.. The other local repeater was up on the opposite hill, with only a couple of hours of battery back up - it died and had to be resuscitated via a gasoline generator.

The one thing no one thought of was that when the town flooded, the gas stations had water infiltration in their tanks, rendering the gasoline useless.
And the stations did not have electric to pump the gasoline.
The alternate repeater owner only had a limited supply of gasoline - because his lazy - cheap family members wouldn't fill up their vehicles gas tanks and frequently ran out of gas and robbed the emergency supply of gasoline to keep their vehicles running.

So how prepared are you?
How prepared is your club?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Do you think that in an emergency that you will be able to drive right up to the convenience store and buy what you need, or that the road will even be open.
How many of you thinks that a handheld radio is all the more that you need in an emergency?
How many of you do not own a modern transceiver?

09-16-2014, 09:12 AM
So how prepared are you?
How prepared is your club?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Do you think that in an emergency that you will be able to drive right up to the convenience store and buy what you need, or that the road will even be open.
How many of you thinks that a handheld radio is all the more that you need in an emergency?
How many of you do not own a modern transceiver?

Well Living as I do in a motor home I usually try to have a least 50 gallons of gas where the generator can access it (70 tank) and everything is "Portable" with two long wire antennas I can toss (literally) up fairly fast, a vertical (HF) and multiple VHF/UHF rigs and antennas.

And having worked for the Government.... I trust 'em far as I can throw 'em (Though I am fairly strong, "The government" weighs several thousand tons (Being the biggest employer in most states all those bodies add up weight wise) so the odds are I can not throw them far.)

09-17-2014, 11:12 AM
Well all of my stuff is modern including digital from 160 to 440megs our ARC repeater is digital and has enough battery backup to run until ether the propane generator starts or I get up the Mt. with the small one. We have an active RACES group that meets every week and a base of about 35 active members. I have a repeater here at the house on our repeater freq that I can put on the air in about 15 min. with a high gain antenna all though I live in a different state it covers just about the same area. My batteries are charged with 9 140 watt solar panels I can power a 15KW generator with my diesel generator from a 500 gallon tank. My campers antenna system gives me 80 meters to 440 megs. and it's batteries are solar charged. We are also linked into the National Weather Service in Gray Maine. So yeah I think we are all set.

09-17-2014, 02:40 PM
By the way, as a government employee, I have had to work on "Emergency Power" at the office a few times... NOTE EVEN THE GOVERNMENT was fully prepared, and this was an Emergency Services office.

For example.. In the 9-1-1 section of the office, only one work station was on the "E" panel.. I managed to bring up a few others, including my favorite station, but that is only because I had a box full of extension cord (Heavy duty) and outlet strips in the APV.

(Chevy Lumina APV)

We had no air, Our security system was out, Gates locked open. Thankfully the dispatch computers were 100%... Save for the last time when the com system crashed.. But I fixed that one too (With a bit of help from the experts 100 miles away at Network Control).

Mr. Ham
09-28-2014, 06:59 PM
Well, I am pretty much stuck here at home until I find a pick up truck that I can afford.
Then it will be a job to see if I can get some good antenna's on it before the snow flies.
At the house here, I can be packed up and ready to travel in about 4 hours, with my own generator, radio, computer, food, clothes, bedding..
Our problem is - a small town about 7 miles away, that floods every time we have a weather event involving rain or snow melt.
They have an emergency shelter, it would only stand to reason - since I am the nearest REAL HAM - that I would go there to man the radios and provide emergency communications. The problem being that our county Emergency Coordinator is a Fireman and he thinks that the Firemen can do it all.
Since we have never really ever had a true disaster in Western Pennsylvania, other then Hurricane Sandy, and the Great St. Patrick's day flood of 1936, and the two floods since, no one thinks that anything bad is going to happen.
When it does happen, it not only happens here, but everywhere.

My bible says, a good Shepard knows his sheep and can call them by name and that the sheep recognizes his voice and will follow him.

In my part of the world, there has only been one SET - Situational Emergency Test in the past 20 years, and it proved that we did not have enough hams to cover even some of the bases.

With no working ARES or RACES group, and only a hand full of people FEMA TRAINED, there isn't a lot that the people can expect out of us HAMS.
I have tried to work with the different groups, but there is too many chiefs and not enough braves.

Even just trying to suggest that the county uses some of their FEMA money to put up a couple of antenna's at the community center and buy a power supply and furnish a desk with a working dual band mobile radio is like asking them to fly me to the moon.

So I sit here and I just play radio for myself.
At least when I get a truck and a enclosed trailer, I can go where I please and do as I please. I don't think I am going to do many more Field Days here as long as nobody wants to take it seriously or at least use it as a promotional tool to get more hams in the fold.

09-29-2014, 08:40 AM
To the original poster: Will the government run out and save us in a disaster.

One of the more interesting things I have seen is the government response to a major wide spread incident,say a hurricane or massive tornado.

Many times a Governor or even in some cases the President of the United States has done a fly over so he (or she) could view the damage.

In New York, following Hurricane Sandi.. The President put his feet on the ground, he ask the people what they wanted most..... The answer, surprising enough was Gasoline,, For without Gasoline they could not run Generators they could not get to where stores were open to buy food, or to work if open.

The next day National Guard fuel trucks started arriving and folks could get, as I recall, 10 gallons (Enough to get out of the damage zone and buy more).

So the answer depends on who is in charge of the government when the disaster hits.

Though this is a specific story.. There have been other presidents where I would not put it past them to actually walk the affected streets and ask questions and shake hands.

And there have been presidents who would NEVER do anything like that.

And I will not say which ones.

10-10-2015, 12:21 AM
I belong to the ARES group in Carroll County, GA. As a part of ARES we operate the ham station at the Tanner Hospital in Carrollton. Since very few hospital employees are hams we volunteer our services should there be a emergency event in the area/county or state. There is a hospital net on the 1st Sunday of each month that operates on 40M. The state isn't very well organized for the net. It is sometimes moved to another day, like this month was, on short notice. It was supposed to be on 7.185 but was moved to 7.183. Last month when it was my turn at the hospital (we take turns with 2 of us operating each month) there was someone on the frequency so we couldn't find where they moved it. There are no plans set in place to move to another band if conditions are poor. All in all for right now it is not very effective and especially with band conditions as they are.
I would belong to the ARES group in the county where I live but there are 2 clubs in the county and the ARES group seems to think it is a club thing rather than a county organization plus a couple of that group have a dislike for our club so they run any of our club members away, I don't understand that.

10-10-2015, 10:57 AM
Another fact: Some areas in this country Hams are in short supply.. In the county where I'm parked with a blown motor home engine there are FOUR of us.. There is a repeater. NO traffic have I ever heard on it.. The county next door is a bit better (multiple repeaters and more hams) but still.. Kind of tough mounting an emergency response team with only 4 members and I only know two of the others.

10-10-2015, 12:38 PM
You need to look under some of the rocks (actually sand in your area) for more. Actually there are 38 in McIntosh County counting yourself
There are 17 in Darien - Zip 31305 5 Extras, 3 Generals, 8 Techs and 1 Club
There are 2 in Crescent - Zip 31304 2 Techs
There are 13 in Townsend - Zip 31331 3 Extras +yourself, 1 Advanced, 4 Generals, 4 Techs and 1 Novice
There is 1 Tech in Sapelo Island - Zip 31327 1 Tech
and there is 3 in Meridian - Zip 31319 1 General, 1 Tech, and 1 Novice

My source is www.ae7q.com just scroll down the left side to "By Zip code" and enter the zip.

Now if you lived in Culberson County TX you would really be lonely, there are only 3 hams in the county and they are all techs.

10-10-2015, 02:21 PM
So how prepared are you?
How prepared is your club?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Do you think that in an emergency that you will be able to drive right up to the convenience store and buy what you need, or that the road will even be open.
How many of you thinks that a handheld radio is all the more that you need in an emergency?
How many of you do not own a modern transceiver?

I think we are generally more prepared in our area than Mr. Ham. We live on an island about 50 miles north of Seattle. We have an active group preparing for the "big one", defined as a 9.0 earthquake off the coats of Oregon with the possibility/probability of a tsunami.

Our presumptions are that our long, norrow island could easily become three. The power will be certainly out because we are not on a grid. The one bridge and two ferries will be out, at least until they can be inspected. Water and natural gas for our largest town will most likely be out because they come across the bridge. We will most likely loose cell service but possibly may be able to communicate to towers on other islands including Vancouver Island, Canada.

We probably have thee days of supplies in the grocery stores on the island. We are rural and will most likely be a lower priority than Seattle.

So, what have I done? - I completed a CERT class and got my license, now general. I have UHF/VHF radios and am in process of setting up HF. I am accumulating and emergency supplies. I have 3 generators, home propane, motor home, and 2kw portable as well as a couple of battery packs. The bad news is that al of this could experience a sudden elevation drop of 75 feet since I live on a bluff.

How prepared is our club? - Our club has an ARES/Races team. Most have HF, multi-band mobiles as well as HTs. The ARES/Races team meets once a month separately from the regular club meeting. We have a check in every Sunday night on 2m and 10m. We support the 4 emergency radio centers on the island - EOC, hospital, joint command center at one of the fire stations, and the Navy base. The fire station has also set up a mobile radio trailer with our consultation. We participate in a 4 county check in on Tuesdays on UHF, VHF, HF, voice and digital (includes EOC, hospitals, clinics, fire stations, Navy, and other emergency responders).

Mobility? - I two ways out of the neighborhood if they are not covered by trees or power lines. The closest store is 5 miles. Once out, there are a lot of other people in town that can walk to the store and clean it out before I get there. The next closest stores are 15 miles, same story.

Do I thinks that a handheld radio is all I need in an emergency? - NO. That is why I am setting up HF. I have the option of reaching 4 different repeaters on 2m, assuming that the are up. Our likely State emergency coordination center is 300 miles away and would require HF. I would not be calling there unless specifically asked to pass a message.

Do i own a modern transceiver? - I do not have digital yet but it is being considered for sometime in the future.

11-08-2015, 03:22 AM
In the county next to us every manned and unmanned station has either
VHF or VHF/UHF radios in them.

The nearest City to me has VHF/UHF radio in the EOC and all the fire
stations, the have 2 emergency com vans both have VHF/ UHF radios in
them and one has HF. The EOC and 2 out of the 5 fire stations has digital
modems in them along with one com van. The EOC runs a full time 24/7
digital system even when not in use with a VHF RMS thought BPQ32.

We are also building a trailer that has a extra generator on it along with a
push up pole, extra lighting, antennas and solar panels to charge batteries.
This trailer will be able to stand along with emergency comms or trail behind
either com van if needed.

Now say all of the above, the county I live in only has one fire station that
has amateur equipment in it and that's VHF/UHF with a digital modem, an
the reason for this is the fire chief listen to the fire chief in the next county
over and wanted to be prepared....

One of the biggest problems I see in our two county close buy is that we
have over 400 amateurs and only 30 members on the ARES teams for county
and city.

We also have at least 1 if not 2 floods a year since we have 2 rivers and a
large creek flowing thought and around our small city. :hands:

11-08-2015, 11:58 AM

That's an interesting line in your sig.
National Communication Station (NC045)

Could you tell us about that?

11-08-2015, 01:46 PM
Do I think I could drive up to a C Store and buy what I need.. Thankfully since I often drive my house (once I get the engine fixed) I have most everythign I need on board.

And I can drive a long way on a full tank.

I should mention this. I have participated in several SET's back when I was in Michigan... One of them the Simulated emergency was a severe snow storm.. The actuall weather conditions were .... Worse than the simulation (I have a simulated 4" of snow, and an actual 6")...

Some of them the NCS knew his job, did it well (Speaking as a professional NCS (Police dispatcher) I tried to avoid that position, with success, save for a bike-a-thon once but that's not an emergency). Some... Well some were embarrassments. But hey, it's a learning experience in any case.

I mentioned there are but 4 hams registered in this county (Technically I"m the 5th when I posted that) I'm told one died, Yesterday... I met my third ham from this county, So that means I've met 'em all.. one at U-Haul (Manager) one at the Methodist Church (I was picking up for the Rummage Room of Darien after their indoor Yard Sale) one at Cowboy church (WHich is now closed) and another who I believe lives in the country next door at my church. We could hold a "Club Meeting" at Waffle House, one booth.