The Red Cross continues to request Amateur Radio volunteers to support communication at shelters housing evacuees from flooding of historic proportions in Louisiana. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in Louisiana has activated, and Section Emergency Coordinator Adam Tamplain, KD5LEH, has put out a call for additional volunteers, reaching out to neighboring states. The federal government declared Louisiana a major disaster area, states of emergency remain in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Louisiana Emergency Operations Center is at full activation. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, visited the stricken region on August 16. While some residents are being allowed to return home, about 7000 remain in shelters.
“While we have had an increase in response from the Southeastern area, it’s still not quite enough,” Tamplain said on August 16. “Alabama ARES is attempting to put together a team for us. We have seen support from Southwest Mississippi as well. We had operators at Red Cross New Orleans, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge today.” Tamplain said a dozen or so operators were staffing eight shelters; nearly 40 shelters remain open. He asked additional volunteers to check in at Red Cross Headquarters in Baton Rouge (4655 Sherwood Common Boulevard).
Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Services, Operations, and Logistics Brad Kieserman called the Louisiana flooding the worst natural disaster to strike the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. With some 40,000 homes affected, thousands of residents were displaced, and nearly a dozen people have died. Roads, including parts of Interstates 10 and 12, had to be closed, stranding many motorists. Most conventional telecommunication systems remain operational. Area waterways reached record flood levels, and some roadways remain impassable.
“Significant river flooding will persist this week across portions of southern Louisiana,” FEMA said in its August 17 Daily Operations Briefing. “Major to record flooding will continue along portions of the Amite, Vermilion, Mermentau and Calcasieu rivers.”
Noting the “desperate need” for ham radio volunteers in Louisiana, ARES volunteers in Mississippi have been asked to provide assistance. Mississippi Prospective Mississippi should not self-deploy to Louisiana, but coordinate through Mississippi Section Manager Malcolm Keown, W5XX.
Primary operating frequencies at this time are 444.950 MHz (107.2 Hz), 146.940 MHz (107.2 Hz), and 146.790 MHz (107.2 Hz). Louisiana ARES HF Frequencies now designated for use are 7.255 MHz and 3.873 MHz LSB. Digital operation is on 3.595MHz. These frequencies should be kept clear of non-emergency traffic. More repeaters may need to be designated, and the frequencies will be posted when they become available.