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HAMS In Paradise – Fall 2018

HAMS In Paradise – Fall 2018

September 9, 2018 1:02 pm0 comments

Wow, hard to believe we’re back in “season”. Here at the peak of hurricane season, the Atlantic looks like a conga-line of storms. The below photo doesn’t show the remnants of hurricane Gordon which has dissipated over CONUS. The seasonal conga line of storms is strewn across the Atlantic like a stormy pearl necklace.

It is hard to believe that one year ago the USVI experienced the rage of Irma & Maria. I look back on the amount of new relief “friends” I have encountered and am humbled. These are people who have come to help the USVI rebuild. FEMA employees, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, US Army, private consultants, linemen, National Park Service, etc. The list goes on-and-on. Some are hams who show up on the local repeater and also at our meetings. The Territory is forever indebted to these individuals and their organizations. They ARE making a HUGE difference!

The USVI is fortunate to be supported by the BILLIONS of federal relief and loan dollars that are pouring into the Territory. The Stafford Act (a disaster funding allocation act allowing only replacement of damaged infrastructure, and the like, to pre-disaster condition), has long been a staple of Federal disaster recovery. Now in certain circumstances, mitigation dollars can be used to improve and harden damaged infrastructure. This is HUGE news for the Territory which has many, many, many maintenance challenges which often come from years of maintenance neglect and fraud.

They say that from bad comes good. I am happy to highlight a couple of good things that happened as a result of the storms. A devastated St. John awoke and realized the value of ham radio. From the tireless efforts of Jennifer Pruss and in coordination with St. John Rescue, the first ham license class yielded 15 new hams, including some from St. Thomas and BVI! Jennifer also passed her Technician and General classes on the first try! Class number two will graduate shortly and many of the students are upgrading from their Technican. Well done Jennifer and new STJ hams!! St. John will now possess a sizeable ham population to assist in future disasters.

The Territory ham repeater network suffered extensive damage. In fact, only a single repeater (NP2VI) remained active in the strom. The 30+ year old discontinued Tait repeater provided hand-held coverage to the helicopter landing zone, and other critical locations. Through one of our new relief friends, who happens to be a ham, we were introduced to a philanthropic opportunity to purchase new repeaters, controllers, link radios, PV panels and batteries. I am happy to say that in the near future the USVI island repeater system will be linked using resilient UHF link radios. The entire system will be powered by PV panels and batteries and will be off grid. Future projects include the addition of Echolink / IRLP on the system, as well as linking to another similar system which has coverage reaching Dominica to the south.

Field Day was a great chance to get out & test our capability to operate from well, the FIELD. Thanks to a great promotional effort spearheaded by Daryl, NP2QD, turnout from supporting local agencies was high. VITEMA, the VI National Guard, St. Croix Rescue, American Red Cross, and a few reporters joined in the activity. Nearly all states & provinces were contacted.

“Class photo” at Cramers Park – STX VITEMA Mobile EOC

Well, the Territory continues to recover and rebuild. Keeping our fingers crossed that none of the conga line comes to visit us this year.

73 – Fred, K9VV / NP2X
Section Manger, USVI Section

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