Radio operators provide link when disaster strikes

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) –  As Hurricane Dorian gets closer to the east coast of the United States, a group of Ham radio operators has kept tracked and talked with those in the possible path of the hurricane.

Every Tuesday at the Tupelo Veteran’s Museum, members of the Tupelo Amateur Radio Club meet; sharing a hobby that connects them with people across the world.

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On this particular day, Allen Sudduth, dressed as well known Captain Edward John Smith of the RMS Titanic, operated a Kenwood radio, as other members of the club, known as “Hams” listen in.

“We’re monitoring the hurricane watch frequencies,” said Sudduth.

Some frequencies even use Morse Code.

Ham radios have been reliable way to communicate, when cell phones, landlines and electricity may be out.

“When high winds come through, cell phone towers go down, trees, power lines, all that that’s necessary for communication goes down, and HAM operators usually have equipment staged at different places, can quickly put a station on the air,” said Tom Mann, president of the Tupelo Amateur Radio Club.

Ham radio operators not only listen in as people give reports from areas that could be affected by natural disasters, but they are also able to play vital roles in helping people find valuable information about their loved ones.

“When the hurricane hit Puerto Rico a couple of years ago, I got on my home station, made contact with a radio station in Puerto Rico, took information from many different folks down there, and relayed it to loved ones, or others here in the US,” said Mann.

When they can, Ham radio operators take their equipment on the road, staging in areas hit hard by natural disasters, providing assistance to first responders and other emergency agencies.

Allen Sudduth has taken his Airstream across the country on relief trips.

“I was one of the very first at Katrina, we set up under a Shell station awning, and passed traffic on it,” said Sudduth.

As for Hurricane Dorian, members of the Tupelo Amateur Radio club will keep monitoring the airwaves, and help out any way they can.

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