Hams increase their Philippines typhoon disaster role
More than a week after being hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, survivors of the central Philippines have basic needs of food, water and medicine, shelter, evacuation, communication and power.
The Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA) and its Ham Emergency Radio Operation (HERO) network continue providing emergency communications, and at the request of authorities starting to expand its locations and facilities.
Ramon Anquilan DU1UGZ, Vice Chief Operating Officer of PARA, confirms that HERO stations are continuing to work. He thanks the world for keeping 7.095 MHz clear for urgent traffic.
Working with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), it is looking at potential sources for needed communications equipment.
PARA had two representatives at a meeting chaired by the Commissioner of NTC, Gamaliel A. Cordoba.
Ramon DU1UGZ said, The NTC has requested that the coverage from Borongan be expanded, to the adjacent town and so on. The idea is to set up an HF station in the farthest town that can be accessed.
"Given the new task that NTC wants us to do, we will be needing stations that can be deployed and dismantled at a moment's notice. On the excellent offer of the ARRL, I have requested it to provide at least four HF stations and a repeater."
He said, the official meeting talked about having assets on the ground in the blindspots. "It seems only PARA has local station - Lester DV5PO in the capital town of Borongan, East of Samar." Lester DV5PO is expected to be given more diesel fuel for his generator so he can continue supplying vital information. A request agreed to by the NTC meeting, which will be followed up.
"This is going now to the difficult phase. The operators that are needed should come from the outside because our locals will not budge from their locations as they have to fend for themselves and their families - they are victims too of this disaster. There are other willing radio amateurs but usually they don't have the proper equipment."
He said in one of the worst hit areas of Tacloban that has lost 90 per cent of its buildings, the Negros Oriental Radio Assistance Dumaguete (NORAD7) team is on its way to provide an additional HF station.
"The team is bringing much needed relief goods and Rey Boy Manaay 4D7DSW and Eric Mite DW7DTR who are trained in rescue. I intend to replace the old radio that Nathan DU5AOK is using from one of the units that ARRL is sending," said Ramon DU1UGZ.
"Very experienced Darwin Torres 4F1FZE is joining the efforts at Tacloban. A technical person expected to improve VHF coverage in the area, and HF, with him being a critical component to the efforts. Darwin 4F1FZE is embedded in a relief team from Manila."
There are two repeaters in Tacloban with no power, so we need alternative energy - batteries and solar power.
"A team can be deployed to Samar perhaps Guiuan or further west. We need equipment to link Samar to Tacloban. This will mean a VHF repeater is available to a large portion of the affected site of Samar," he said.
The farthest affected place is Coron in Palawan, a famous tourist spot. Clifford Certeza DU1CC is going there this weekend to set up an HF station.
Ramon DU1UGZ said there was no relay station from Palo down the coastal municipalities in the eastern seaboard of Leyte. A HERO station, part of the club ACCESS 5 in that area, has not been heard from since the typhoon hit. Another station is needed to provide the link. PARA and its HERO network have a long task ahead as it slowly gains the necessary resources and recognition for the emergency communications.
In some good news, Trent Hays DW5HT who has relatives in the US has been found safe and well, by RADNET 5, in Palo, Leyte. The US Embassy has been advised, and with vehicle packed is due headed to Manila.
Jim Linton VK3PCChairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee