Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ham Radio Gets Storm Messages Through

While Florida was under a hurricane watch and during the actual passage of
Hurricane Frances though the state, amateur radio operators played an
essential part in emergency operations.

In Hendry county, a small group of hams manned the Emergency Operations
center in LaBelle, and the hurricane shelters in LaBelle and Clewiston. Walt
Weiland, a former Port LaBelle resident and now living in North Fort Myers,
spent long days and nights at the EOC center monitoring communications and
relaying messages between shelters. His role became especially important
when electric and phone lines were out around the county. Relying on
"wireless" communication using only his radio and an antenna installed
outside the building, he sent and received importand logistical information
during the emergency. At one point, he was called upon to relay messages to
the EOC in Glades county when their power went out.

Stationed at the emergency shelters were hams Rev. Warren Grant, Ron Novack, Jim Sparks,
and Pete Sutton also spending long hours working throughout the bad weather
sending messages between the EOC and the shelters.
The local hams maintain the emergency radio equipment at the shelters and
also at the Hendry Emergency Management department. They have regular
meetings and also maintain a repeater station on a local radio tower in
order to facilitate long distance communication throughout the county.
Walt Weiland says he is always looking for people who would like to become
hams and get their FCC license. He is also looking for citizen band radio
operators and Family Radio Service radio operators to volunteer for
emergency operations during the next county wide emergency. If interested
you may email

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