Hams still involved in Philippines typhoon disaster
While humanitarian aid continues to flow albeit slowly in some areas in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines, the Ham Emergency Radio Operator network stations are handling lots of vital messages.
The death toll has been put at 2,000 or so officially, even though estimates have been much higher.
Ramon Anquilan DU1UGZ, of the Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA), said its Ham Emergency Radio Operator or HERO network is working inside the disaster areas, and sending messages on HF and VHF elsewhere in the archipelago.
He reports that the first improvements in the relief response were felt with cellular mobile companies beginning to restore their services in hard hit Tacloban.
The RADNET HERO station there had been handling inquiries about the whereabouts of people in the Tacloban and the nearby Palo areas, but when Internet services became available the pressure from residents was greatly reduced. The RADNET station could not operate after dark due to a curfew imposed to maintain law and order.
Ramon DU1UGZ said that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has now used the HERO network for several messages.
“It appears that NTC had an emergency meeting and decided to provide hams in the area with mobile rigs and hand-held portables.
“The NTC’s awareness of the importance of Amateur Radio is maturing and there are talks of our clubs training and maintaining stations at NTC regional offices,” he said.
The national agencies have relocated the Command Post to the Tacloban Grandstand. For coordination reasons, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Council (CDRRMC) has joined them.
Ramon DU1UGZ said that the hard-working DU5AOK station is left by itself in the second floor of city hall in Tacloban, with security, food, and logistics problems starting to emerge.
“We are urgently requesting assistance to sustain the DU5AOK station and ensure operations in the other hard struck areas are established – Samar, Panay, Cebu, Biliran, and the tourist area of Palawan,” he said.
“We need equipment (field deployable systems, power source generators and antenna systems), food or ration packs and operators tent.”
Financial donations are also welcome via the PARA Paypal account.
Jim Linton VK3PC
Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee