This is a article that was written by and posted to the ARRL web site by Judith Nurenberg (KC7KPG) about our experience. Her story about our operation has been posted here.
FOUR AMATEURS ANSWER THE CALL The devastation of Hurricane Katrina was still fresh when ARRL sent out the call for volunteers to provide communications for the Red Cross. Among the thousands that answered that call were four assigned to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Bill Clingan KC0ONR, Alabama; Wade Davis AA8LL, Ohio; John Quinn N9JZX, Illinois; and Judith Nurenberg KC7KPG, New Mexico setup camp to serve the special needs Senior Center Shelter. We furnished our own shelter and food as not to create a burden on the shelter.
Bill was first to arrive September 6th. His camper and utility trailer were fully equipped to serve as an operational center powered by a generator. Judy arrived that night with her Jeep that served as sleeping quarters and equipment/supply storage. John arrived a day later with tent, screen porch tent, two antennas, radio equipment and supplies all in a very small car. Wade came the same day as John with tent trailer, equipment and supplies.
Amateur Radio communication brought repairs to the Center’s broken sewer line, garbage pickups, and special items needed by the Center. Bill was instrumental relaying messages to the Red Cross Center in Montgomery, Alabama. His dipole antenna about 30 feet high did an excellent job of hearing all stations. A record-breaking solar flare closed the band for a short time one day.
The shelter’s needs were not met by amateur radios alone. Flexibility and improvisation made the team very resourceful. The team assisted with transportation of senior victims from a school shelter to the more accommodating Senior Center Shelter. We found cleaning supplies and needed clothing items at the parking lot where donated supplies were dumped.
We found water for the Faith Based outdoor kitchen that fed the victims and relief workers near the shelter. John’s small car served as transportation for our outings. Bill shared fuel and oil for the shelter’s generator before their power was restored.
Our camp served as an information center for those seeking vouchers, FEMA trailers, airline tickets and a variety of requests. We dispelled many false rumors through the Red Cross, such as; the Delta Hoax in which each local airline informed a couple that the Red Cross was giving out airline tickets. Bill would say, “don’t shoot the messenger” when the news was not favorable.
We provided “Health and Welfare” traffic, by driving to a location or the use of our cell phones. Family members of shelter residents were thankful to know the location of their love ones.
Although, the four had not trained together, we worked well as a team. Our one common denominator was the ARRL EMCOMM Courses we each had completed. The three levels of this course and the many FEMA courses are preparation to any incident response.
We stayed until the Red Cross caseworkers arrived with radios, Internet, and phone service. On September 13, we broke camp and left Bay St. Louis.
Bill returned to Alabama via Hattiesburg for a tower repair, John was reassigned to Columbia, Mississippi, Wade returned to Ohio, and Judy went to assist her family in Louisiana before returning to New Mexico.
Each member of the four-man team felt we made a contribution to the relief effort of the Red Cross. We would respond again to an ARRL call for volunteers. We are ARRL ARES. This is our commitment. -- KC7KPG
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