HAMNET Report 25 June 2017

Those of you wishing to practise your DX communications may care to listen out for the American Radio Relay League’s Field Day contest, which finishes today. From the correspondence on websites, blogs, the ARRL and You Tube, it seems about 30 000 American radio amateurs will be running ┬áportable stations, doing their best to qualify for all the points the ARRL offers for extra activities to make their stations capable of transmitting an emergency message if called upon so to do . I wish South Africans had the kind of enthusiasm for contest and events like this that the Americans demonstrate. Anyway, listen out if you have time today, and try and make a contact on twenty and fifteen metres, if they’re open.

Part of a communication from Greg Mossop, G0DUB, Emergency Communications Co-ordinator of Region One of the IARU, involves the arrangements for meetings to be held in July.

He writes: “14-16 July begins the largest gathering of Radio Amateurs in Europe and also the largest gathering of Emergency Communicators at HAMRADIO 2017 in Friedrichshafen. IARU Region 1 will be hosting a meeting for Radio Amateurs interested in Emergency Communications in Room Rom on Friday 14th July between 12.00 and 16.00 local time with the following preliminary programme (times may change):

12.00-12.30 Reports from the IARU region 1 Emergency Communications Co-Ordinators

12.30-13.30 Open forum for National Co-Ordinators to report on activities in their countries.

13.30-14.00 Italian Earthquake response 2016 – Alberto IK1YLO

14.00-14.45 RAYNET-UK – What Technology should we use for emergency communication?

14.45-15.15 Discussion- What is an emergency and when should we activate?

15.15-15.45 Discussion – How can we have an international network?

15.45-16.00 Closure and discussion around Friedrichshafen 2018

The Working language for this meeting will be English.”

Thank you for these notes, Greg – we wish you all success with the meetings.

Over and above the Grenfell fire disaster in London, and the forest fires in Portugal, news has come of an earthquake off the coast of Guatemala on Thursday afternoon our time, at a depth of 10km, and with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale. Some 1 275 000 people live within 100km of its epicentre, but no reports of large scale damage or casualties have been received.

And closer to home, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck at a depth of 10km in Mozambique yesterday morning, at 04h37 our time, 61km North-West of Beira, where about 1 370 000 people live within 100km of that epicentre. Damage appears to have been light, and no casualties have been reported yet.

Melanie Gosling, reporting in AllAfrica this week, writes “A major problem fighting the massive fires that ravaged Knysna last week was the lack of communications and electricity outages, according to local councillor Mark Willemse.

“Landlines were down and Cell C and MTN were not operating. Vodacom was working.

” ‘Comms were an issue. We used SMSes and loud hailers. One thing we can work on better and can change is communications,’ Willemse said at a report-back meeting in the town on Tuesday.

“Another problem was that the Joint Operating Centre, co-ordinating the fire-fighting and evacuation operations, had been without electricity.

“The Garden Route fires that began on 7 June and stretched from Great Brak to Plettenberg Bay, wreaked the most destruction in Knysna where 846 houses were gutted and another 307 were damaged. Of the 846 houses destroyed, 150 were informal structures, and the rest formal dwellings. The suburb hit hardest was Knysna Heights, where nearly 22% of houses burnt down.

“Willemse said Knysna’s entire disaster management plan would be changed ‘drastically’ in the wake of the massive fires, which at times were burning in 26 different places.

” ‘The fires have been a good wake-up call to us as to just what disasters can cause. We will look at anything and everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again,’ he said.

“Knysna’s executive mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said at the meeting that a major lesson learned was the difficulty in getting in and out of Knysna in the event of extensive fires.

” ‘The road network is a problem. At one time both exits from Knysna were closed because of fires. At one stage we were looking at evacuating 6,000 people from Rheenendal, but we couldn’t get ┬ábuses in from George. Luckily we didn’t have to evacuate them,’ Bouw-Spies said.

“Experts have said the number of natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts and extreme weather events is increasing as a result of global climate change. Asked if Knysna would take the reality of climate change into account in its future disaster management plan, Bouw-Spies said: ‘We will adopt a climate change adaptation strategy. It is time for us to make sure that we do that.’

“Another factor which fuelled the fires was the vast amount of alien vegetation in the area, which burns hotter and spreads faster than a fire in indigenous vegetation. Willemse said the council would tackle the enforcement of alien tree clearing. Landowners outside the urban edge are legally bound to clear their properties of certain invasive alien vegetation, which consumes large quantities of water and is a fire hazard.

“Asked if the council would ensure that controlled burns were done at Knysna’s large housing estates, where this was a condition by the provincial government when the estates were given development approval, Willemse said the council would do so.

“There were 25 tourist establishments damaged, which represented about 500 beds. About 2,500 people had lost jobs. The mayor said she was concerned that domestic workers would also lose their jobs where their employers had lost their houses.

“However, she said national government had already said it could help immediately with the creation of 500 jobs in the fire clean-up programme.” End quote.

Join us next week for another look at disasters and emergency communications. This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.