It’s hard to fathom the extent of the devastation in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda) last week. More than 10,000 people are presumed dead, towns are demolished, and communications systems have been disrupted due to power outages.
In light of this, I’ve been trying to get a sense of how radio might be aiding these communities. According to an Associated Press report, on Samar, “power was out and there was no cell phone signal, making communication possible only by radio.” Reports this weekend also indicated that amateur radio operators provided assistance by helping to track the storm and by spreading the word about evacuations and flooding updates. Others are banding together in order to help families reach loved ones in the Philippines by radio.
According to a post on Southgate,
“Ramon Anquilan DU1UGZ, of the Philippines Amateur Radio Association (PARA), reports that the Ham Emergency Radio Operator (HERO) has been helping authorities with their reports and messages. ‘They helped track the destructive storm, its fierce wind, rainfall, storm surges, damage, plus outages of communications and other services. HERO network stations did this through PARA using amateur radio on 7.095MHz, 144.740MHz and via social media,’ said Ramon DU1UGZ.
The storm uprooted trees and brought down many power lines. Among HERO reports was news of the official pre-emptive evacuations along exposed coastal areas in the hours before the typhoon arrived. Others were alerted about flash floods and landslides. Authorities had warned more than 12 million people were at risk. The disaster planning potentially saved many lives.”
Additionally, HAM radio operators in the region are being asked to assist families hoping to make contact with loved ones in the Philippines. The Saipan Tribune reports that the MDX Amateur Radio Club is holding a ham radio operators meeting on November 13 in order to help. The news account states,
“According to MDX board member Leo Canedo, the group’s president, Bong Malasarte, wants ham radio operators on Saipan to help those who want to communicate with their families in the Visayas area, especially Leyte.
‘As we all know, communication is still down up to now and the only means of communicating is by ham radio,’ said Canedo.
He said that MDX was able to contact the Philippine Amateur Radio Association yesterday morning and they are now establishing stations in different parts of the province.”
There have been countless examples of the importance of radio communication during and after a natural disaster and I’m sure that in the coming weeks we’ll learn about some radio heroes in the Philippines. If you know more about how radio stations and amateur radio operators in the Philippines are assisting citizens following this devastating storm, please let us know in the comments.