Philippine Amateur Radio Association (PARA) Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HERO) network volunteers were ready for Super Typohoon Haima, which struck the northeastern Philippines on October 19 with winds peaking prior to landfall at more than 180 MPH — a category 5 storm. Roberto Vicencio, DU1VHY, reported that HERO had already activated its net on 7.110 MHz for an earlier category 3 storm, Typhoon Sharika, which hit Luzon Island before moving west and weakening. But the powerful Haima forced thousands of residents to flee. More than a dozen deaths in the Philippines were blamed on the storm.
“Considering the limited access to other communication channels, ham radio is being used to support affected communities to communicate with their loved ones and provide feedback to their evolving needs,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report.
Typhoon Haima left in its wake a path of debris, destroyed infrastructure, some 46,000 damaged homes and businesses, flooding, and landslides. The storm also impacted agriculture and fishing. Haima was the latest of a dozen storms to hit the Philippines archipelago this year.
Vicencio said that 130 stations checked into the HERO net to give reports on weather conditions, power outages, and flooding. Other groups of radio amateurs, including the United Methodist Amateur Radio Club (UMARC), sent members north to the Province of Isabela. OCHA reported that UMARC and PARA provided solar generator sets to radio amateurs in Isabela. It took a team of three radio amateurs more than 10 hours to reach Santiago City, Isabela, by road. They were able to report via HF that electrical power had been cut and phone coverage was intermittent in the province.
Most areas in Cagayan Province had limited access to communication, with electricity expected to take 3 weeks to be restored. The army, police, the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies were deployed in the area.
According to the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development, more than 60,000 residents were affected by the typhoon as it traveled across the island chain, and nearly 15,000 evacuees were in shelters. — Thanks to IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee Chair Jim Linton, VK3PC