More from the article:
On Monday, Aug. 29, a call for help involving a combination of cell telephone calls and amateur radio led to the rescue of 15 people stranded by floodwaters on the roof of a house in New Orleans. Unable to get through an overloaded 911 system, one of those stranded called a relative in Baton Rouge. That person called another relative, who called the local American Red Cross.
Using that Red Cross chapters amateur radio station, Ben Joplin, WB5VST, was able to relay a request for help on the SATERN network via Russ Fillinger, W7LXR, in Oregon, and Rick Cain, W7KB, in Utah back to Louisiana, where emergency personnel were alerted. They rescued the 15 people and got them to a shelter.
Such rescues were repeated over and over again. Another ham was part of the mix that same Monday when he heard over the same Salvation Army emergency network of a family of five trapped in an attic in Diamond Head, La. The family used a cell phone to call out. Bob Rathbone, AG4ZG, in Tampa, says he checked the address on a map and determined it was in an area struck by a storm surge.
He called the Coast Guard search-and-rescue station in Clearwater, explained the situation and relayed the information. At this point, the Coast Guard office in New Orleans was out of commission. An hour later he received a return call from the South Haven Sheriffs Department in Louisiana, which informed him a rescue operation was under way.
The public at large may condemn us as "nerds," but time and time again, we are the only means of communication during a natural disaster.
The radio traffic and phone patches expected out of a disaster area were really low on this one. The local hams got wiped out along with everyone else, and anyone who might have been able to get a mobile rig to the Astrodome wouldn't dare go there. No power, no phones, no dry ground, no fuel, and no one was bulletproof.
I've been monitoring the disaster nets on 40 and 75, and the ops spend most of their time just talking to each other. There's very little actual traffic to handle.
Texas is getting more refugees than any other state -- that's fine, we'll take them all -- but we need help providing them with food, clothing, and shelter.
If you are a refugee, you can information that will help you find relief. If you want to donate or volunteer, you can find someone who needs you.
Right now the site mostly covers Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio but I will add various churches, schools, and other charities in Ft. Worth and Lubbock tonight. My wife spent yesterday at Reunion Arena in Dallas handing out care packages and otherwise ministering to the refugees as a representative of her employer.
There are a lot of churches and other organizations in Texas that need help in dealing with the problem and I would greatly appreciate it if you would get the word out.
Fresh from KC5R:
It's been an interesting 10 days. On Sunday before the storm The family
(my wife, son, and our 2 wiener dogs) flew to Tyler, TX to my wife's
folks house. On Tuesday after the storm, we left the "boy" with his
grandparents and the dogs at a vet, and flew back to check on things.
Remember, we live 30 miles north of New Orleans in Covington, LA.
The house got clipped on the side by a tree that was snapped in two, and
just tore the overhang on the roof down (about 20 feet worth). The rest
was just a messy yard. No roof penetration. I made a temp fix. My
neighbor next to me ended up with (2) trees in their roof. My TV antenna
on the roof, the 2/440 5 el cushcraft on a wall mount above it, and the
satellite dish all were unscathed. I had taken down my HF wires about a
week earlier since the tree folks were to take down a few trees in my
yard. We were without power last week (we did get back phone and
water/gas), so after (2) days of clean-up and no AC, we flew back on
Friday of last week to Tyler and spent Labor day weekend in Dallas. I
stopped by Texas Towers and bought a Yaesu FT-8800R & an extra antenna
We got power in our neighborhood over the weekend and flew back
yestruday (Tuesday). Phone, DSL, and power are ok. I bought gas
yesturday here (not a line at this station, and I got it for $2.59/gal -
There is a pricing "hold" on all supplies by law here now - one of the
few benefits). Walmart is open. They suspended all alcohol sales. Roads
get closed once and a while as they try to clear trees and/or put in
power. I'd guess that only 25% of everybody is here, and that includes a
bunch of relatives of folks from New Orleans and Jefferson Parish that
can't get home. Only about 35% off the area has power here, and about
50% have water. Nearly everyone is "off" of work, who has a white collar
job. We are just lucky.