Fifty of the nation’s most accomplished Amateur Radio operators responded within 24 hours to the call of the American Red Cross to deploy to Puerto Rico and provide emergency communications. At the behest of Red Cross, ARRL rallied the US Amateur Radio community to provide up to 25 two-person teams of highly qualified hams. The group’s principal mission will be to move health-and-welfare information from the island back to the US mainland, where that data will be entered in the Red Cross “Safe & Well” website.
The group will deploy the middle of this week and remain on the island for up to 3 weeks.
ARRL will equip each two-person team with a modern digital HF transceiver, special software, a dipole antenna, a power supply and all the connecting cables, fitted in a rugged waterproof container. In addition, ARRL is sending a number of small, 2,000-W portable generators as well as solar-powered battery chargers of the variety the US military uses on extended deployments. The hams and their equipment will be sent to Red Cross shelters extending from San Juan to the western end of the island.
“This generous outpouring of response represents the finest qualities of the Amateur Radio community,” ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, said. “These individuals are dropping whatever they are doing now, heading off to an extended hardship-duty assignment, and offering their special talents to Americans who have been cut off from their families, living amid widespread destruction and without electrical power since Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean region last week.”
ARRL’s Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said this was the first time in the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and the American Red Cross that such as request for assistance had been made. “Hurricane Maria has devastated the island’s communications infrastructure,” Corey said. “Without electricity and telephone, and with most of the cell sites out of service, millions of Americans are cut off from communicating. Shelters are unable to reach local emergency services. And, people cannot check on the welfare of their loved ones. The situation is dire.”
How You Can Help
In a letter to all ARRL members, ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, asked for contributions to ARRL’s Ham Aid fund. “Equipment has been flying out the door since Hurricane Harvey struck the US mainland,” he emphasized. “From meeting requirements in aid of Hurricane Irma victims in the US Virgin Island and Florida, our store of Ham Aid kits has been depleted.”
ARRL’s Ham Aid program loans Amateur Radio equipment kits to established Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) groups and partner agencies during disaster responses, in order to establish Amateur Radio communication support. Ham Aid is supported by donations from individuals and corporations, including many of our ham radio industry partners.
ARRL has previously staged Ham Aid equipment in Texas, and in the last few weeks, ARRL has supplied kits to Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. With our Ham Aid inventory depleted, your donation is needed now. Contributions to Ham Aid are 100% tax deductible.
To make a donation online, go to the ARRL donation form and select “Ham Aid.” To donate by mail, print a donation form, and mail it with your check payable to ARRL, noting “Ham Aid” on the memo line of your check. Mail to ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 USA.