Conventional telecommunications are starting to return to normal in some communities affected by Hurricane Florence, but the now long-gone storm set up others for persistent and record-breaking flooding, primarily in eastern North Carolina and along several of the state’s rivers. The storm, which made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, primarily affected the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia.
“Things are back to normal communication status, and demobilization is occurring for folks deployed,” South Carolina Section Emergency Coordinator Billy Irwin, K9OH, said on September 19. At mid-week, the FCC reported that nearly all cellular service had been restored in South Carolina.
Over the weekend, ARES volunteers from several South Carolina counties had pitched in to support emergency communication in the face of power and telecommunication outages and heavy rainfall. ARES Richland County Emergency Coordinator Ronnie Livingston, W4RWL, said volunteers in his county staffed the county Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Red Cross operators at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) kept in contact with field volunteers in Marion and Dillon counties, after conventional telecommunications failed there.
ARES District Emergency Coordinator EMEA Area 3 Earl Dean, W4ESD, said ARES deployed assets as well as personnel who coordinated with the appropriate agencies. Horry County ARES and ARRL South Carolina Section Public Information Officer (PIO) Gordon Mooneyhan, W4EGM, said radio amateurs set up and organized communication networks to assist local government and emergency agencies, as well as to handle health-and-welfare traffic for affected residents, to let their family members outside the affected area know they were all right.
In North Carolina, storm surges had caused flooding in many communities. Ham radio volunteers responded in counties along the coast, including Wilmington, Topsail Beach, Jacksonville, and Morehead City, staffing both EOCs and shelters. Farther inland, numerous ARES teams activated in the face of river flooding to address a combination of sheltering needs for local residents and evacuees. Communication throughout the state was supplemented by neighbourhood-based operators, who reported emergencies to county EOCs. The FCC reported on September 19 that nearly one-third of cell service was out in Columbus, Pender, and Onslow counties. The storm also took out several broadcast outlets in the state.
We are grateful to the ARRL letter published on Thursday for these reports.
SocialistWorker.org says that the storm that hammered the Carolinas has moved on, but the catastrophic effects, made much worse by man-made factors, are still being felt. And like the storms before Hurricane Florence, poor and working people will suffer the most.
As dramatic as the images of the hurricane making landfall on September 14 were, it is the misery and suffering for days, weeks and months to come that will be burned into the lives and memories of ordinary people here. As an activist friend beautifully wrote:
“Poverty has always been a flood and not a hurricane. It’s always been a long, rolling disaster, with muddy gray water under an incongruent blue sky. It’s always been a slow build of mould between generations of people making do with babies in faded milk crates floated on mattresses down city streets.” Close quotations.
Florence struck the North Carolina coast with winds reaching 92 miles per hour (160km/h), then moved inland and south to South Carolina, then drifted north again toward Virginia and eventually West Virginia.
The storm brought destruction to every community in its path. As of the writing of this article, it had claimed 32 lives, including that of a 1-year-old who was swept away by floodwaters in Union County in North Carolina.
One preliminary estimate puts the damage caused by Florence at $18 billion. Nearly a million people lost power, and many are expected to remain without it for weeks.
The storm dropped torrential amounts of rain on the Carolinas as it moved inland, with some areas getting over two feet of rainfall (The record rainfall I picked up in another report was 39 inches in the two days – that’s 990mm, nearly three times our annual rainfall in parts of Cape Town!) The resulting flooding will be an ongoing hazard for weeks to come.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the flooding triggered a series of ecological disasters with coal ash ponds, chemical factories, landfills and hog farm lagoons located on or near the two main rivers in Eastern North Carolina, the Cape Fear and Neuse Rivers.
We in South Africa can only give thanks that we are not commonly exposed to this kind of meteorological disaster!
K1CE Rick Palm reports in the ARES E-Letter this week:
“DC power management has become a sub-hobby for me: I have two 100 W solar panels on the roof of my shack, two 31 A/hr gel cell batteries, a heavy duty 60 A power supply, a VHF FM radio and an HF transceiver, all fed by wires terminated with Powerpole® connectors, and managed/connected by a high power (40 A) routing/battery charging device. I changed all of my connectors to the now-ubiquitous Powerpoles years ago and never looked back.
Two aspects of 12 V power management systems are often overlooked by amateurs, admittedly including myself: length and gauge of wires. Power is saved when runs are kept as short as possible, and of a high (lower number) gauge (AWG). The power supply wire should be heavy gauge (#10) and kept as short as possible. The same applies to the batteries, which should also have a fuse in the positive lead directly at the battery’s positive terminal.
I spent a morning recently replacing all of my 12 V cables with shorter, larger gauge ones. I fused the positive battery terminal and had fun reorienting myself to installing the Powerpole connectors. There is a wealth of information available online.
One final note, and it’s an important one: Be Careful! Any short in the battery wire, connector, or load can cause a fire and battery explosion. People almost never think of 12 V batteries as dangerous, but they are. Use the utmost of care when wiring your 12 V management system!
Thank you Rick for those words of advice.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.