As their efforts continue to help Puerto Rico recover from the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, ARRL Force of 50 volunteers on the island distributed more new Amateur Radio gear to places where it will do the most good. Puerto Rico Section Emergency Coordinator Juan Sepulveda, KP3CR, is better prepared to assist, now that volunteers have delivered a radio and antenna to him in Lares.
“This now gives us a local ham covering the Lares Medical Center and the hospital, so our ARRL American Red Cross Amateur Radio operator can cover the Casteñel hospital nearby,” ARC volunteer Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, noted in the team’s October 8 report. Sepulveda has been coordinating the ARES efforts on the west side of the island since the start of the recovery.
Hotzfeld; Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF; ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, and Amateur Radio liaison to the FEMA ESF-2 Communications Task Force Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, traveled to Arecibo, Lares, and the Guajataca dam.
The team, all deployed as ARC volunteers, delivered spare VHF radios and bottled water to Guajataca Dam, to permit direct communication between Isabela and the dam, where infrastructure repairs are under way. A Yaesu DR-X2 VHF/UHF repeater has been delivered to Arecibo Observatory. The team visited a grocery to stock up on powdered milk, peanut butter, water, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, and bags of fresh apples, all delivered this to people living in the vicinity of Arecibo Observatory.
The volunteers continue to handle traffic and relays for support from hospital to and from K1M, the call sign designated for the Amateur Radio relief effort in Puerto Rico. “As an example, we received a message from a hospital administrator that the workers at the hospital and other area businesses need temporary housing,” Hotzfeld explained. “Their homes were destroyed, and they cannot leave, as their employment is critical on the island.”
The fire station in Guayama reported a complete lack of water, with people being turned away. One of the Amateur Radio volunteers was able to assist from the fire station in Juncos.
Volunteer Joe Bassett, W1WCN, worked via relay with local operator Al Medina-Ramirez, NP3MR, to reestablish contact with an Army task force on Vieques Island. Army MARS operators were unable to get in touch with the task force, which had been dispatched to the island to assist the hospital. Medina-Ramirez responded to a call from W1WCN to travel to the hospital to contact the task force. Uris Monge-Vives, NP4WW, assisted with translation. The task force was found safe and well awaiting transport via helicopter, which had been delayed due to the weather.
Amateur Radio operators at the Emergency Operations Center in San Juan assisted Samaritan’s Purse in providing a generator to power a repeater near Juyaya. Contact was provided to have local radio amateur WP4PNS meet Samaritan’s Purse personnel to exchange the generator. — Thanks to Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L; Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and Amateur Radio FEMA ESF-2 Liaison Gary Sessums, KC5QCN