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Amateur Radio Operators Assist During and After Typhoon in Philippines

Emergency RadioIt’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.



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4 Responses to Amateur Radio Operators Assist During and After Typhoon in Philippines

  1. Marty Chambers November 13, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Family friends looking for any information concerning Elise Bondesto in the Biliran Provence, in town of Catmon, in the Phillippines after the storm. Asking all Amateur Radio Operators who make contact (with any other Amateur Radio operator in on near the town of Catmon) to please spread the word. Her families contact email is: chasty2011@gmail.com. Her name has been added to the Google People Locator. Thank you guys, Marty Chambers KE4ICY

  2. Jim Linton November 17, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    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 now 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 (NORAD-7) 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 due headed to Manila.

    – Jim Linton VK3PC, Chairman IARU Region 3 Disaster Communications Committee.

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