Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers and emergency operations centers (EOCs) in Nevada are now standing down as the threat of additional widespread flooding damage diminishes. Over the weekend, ARES members in Nevada stood ready to support the disaster response effort. Recent heavy rainfall, sparked by a weather system called the Pineapple Express, caused flooding along rivers and forced evacuations in some areas of Nevada and neighboring California. The flooding prompted Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval to declare a state of emergency. In Reno the Truckee River crested above 12 feet on January 9, and at 19.5 feet in Sparks. The river is now below flood stage and, despite a forecast of more rain and snow, was expected to remain so.
Carrying moisture-laden warm air from Hawaii, the Pineapple Express “atmospheric river” flowing across a narrow band of the Sierra Nevadas brought snow followed by rainfall of up to 15 inches to northern Nevada and California. While the rainfall may have broken the back of the region’s lengthy drought, it caused the snowpack in the Sierras to melt, initiating avalanches and mudslides, washing out roadways, and causing heavy flooding.
Because forecasters were able to detect and predict the magnitude of the storm well in advance, the Reno, Nevada, area had time to prepare, and sandbagging and other operations were in full force on Friday. County EOCs such as the Regional Emergency Operations Center (REOC), which serves as a joint facility for Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks, began activating early on Friday morning.
ARES volunteers took up positions at the REOC as well as in Storey, Lyon, and Douglas counties. Under the direction of Section Emergency Coordinator Glenn Hale, KB7REO, ARES volunteers in the rest of Nevada’s counties began monitoring emergency activations on HF, Echolink, IRLP, and DMR. Shelters were opened in two Reno high schools, and voluntary evacuations were begun.
Throughout the weekend ARES communicators remained on duty. On Sunday the fire station at Truckee Meadows experienced a power failure and lost communication. Washoe County Emergency Coordinator Bob Miller, WA6MTY, dispatched an ARES volunteer to the station to provide communication.
A statewide ARES resource net supported the response, with 60 meters and Winlink added to the toolbox. The statewide net included the California counties of Alpine, Mono, and Inyo, which operate by prior agreements within the Nevada Section as the Sierra East District because the Sierra Nevada mountain range makes it impossible for them to communicate with their own California sections.
ARRL Nevada Section Manager John Bigley, N7UR, praised the ARRL Field Organization volunteers for standing ready to support the flooding response. — Thanks to John Bigley, N7UR/The Nevada Amateur Radio Newswire