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Storms and Tornadoes: Amateur Radio Ready


Strong storms and reports of at least 60 tornadoes have wreaked havoc in the Central U.S. for nearly two weeks. Homes and businesses across Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Iowa were destroyed, and power is still down for more than 30,000 residents. On May 1, 2024, President Joe Biden declared a major disaster exists in Oklahoma, making federal aid available to those affected by last weekend's severe storms in Hughes, Love, and Murray counties. 

Section Manager of the ARRL Iowa Section Lelia Garner, WA0UIG, reported that in Iowa, they have moved from response to recovery. Currently, nine counties are under the Iowa State Individual Assistance Grant Program and the Disaster Case Advocacy Program.  

"Amateur Radio has served our local agencies well. We recently networked at a central Iowa hamfest and are building our emergency communications capacity primarily through [the Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®). ARES resources [include] personnel, experience, meetings, training, [communications] equipment, [and] operating trailers. The opportunity to share our experience and knowledge gained in the field has been critical to supporting ARES in Iowa," said Garner.  

Garner added that awareness is the best tool. She stressed that amateur operators and ARES members work to help the National Weather Service and other served agencies in order make their work and the community safer.  

ARRL Emergency Management Director Josh Johnston, KE5MHV, agrees that everyone should stay vigilant in their awareness and preparations, even during periods of less activity. Make sure you are prepared at home and that your family has a severe weather plan. This is extremely important if you plan to be mobile or away from your home during a severe weather event. Your safety is the most important thing if you plan to be active during severe weather. Every ham who is interested in severe weather should take the SKYWARN storm spotting class offered by the National Weather Service," said Johnston.  

He added that some of the most important aspects of preparation are communication and building relationships. These activities, including drills and exercises, need to be done during blue - sky days to ensure you will be ready during days with severe weather.  

The ARRL Learning Center offers courses like on Basic EmComm and Intro to Radio for Emergencies & Disasters.



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