Super Typhoon Nock-Ten (locally “Nina”) interrupted Christmas for radio amateurs in the Philippines, who responded to provide communication for the disaster. The category 4 storm claimed six lives, and more than 380,000 residents were evacuated as the storm cut a path through the Philippines. Warnings were posted for flooding and mudslides. The slow-moving typhoon made landfall seven times from Sunday evening until mid-day on Monday. The Philippines Amateur Radio Association’s (PARA) Ham Emergency Radio Operations (HERO) Network activated in advance of the storm, which cut power to five provinces, downed trees, caused widespread damage, and dimmed the festive occasion in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation.
“A truly commendable job was done by many radio amateurs, who not only gave up their traditional Christmas activities, but some had to stop transmissions because they were in the storm path,” Jojo Vicencio, DU1VHY, said. Amateur Radio volunteers used both HF and VHF during the storm response.
Vicencio said that as the typhoon first made landfall in Catanduanes, some network stations were forced off air by high winds in excess of 120 MPH. Stations gradually returned to the air to report extensive damage in their areas. HERO reported that as the typhoon swept along the Southern Tagalog region, it made landfall several times. Marinduque also was badly hit.
“It created a large swath of destruction and debris — uprooted and fallen trees and posts, landslides, impassable roads, and other damage,” Vicencio said. “Even our own HEROs were not spared.” Net participants were able to compile damage reports and relay them to authorities, some of which had tuned to the HERO net.
“It has now become a reality that our emergency calling frequency is the most listened to during disaster,” Vicencio said. “Government operators listened in…armed forces station Peacemaker in Catarman, for example, broke into the frequency looking for a counterpart station also in Northern Samar.” The HERO net also heard from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense. Vicencio said the HERO HF net on 7.095 MHz never faltered. — Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee