The Yasme Foundation, Yaesu USA, the Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service (FAIRS), and individual GoFundMe donors have joined forces to restore country-wide Amateur Radio communication on Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Private pilots Brian Machesney, K1LI, and Dave Bridgham, N1AHF, are set to take off on October 14 from Vermont with a planeload of Amateur Radio gear, relief equipment, and supplies to better prepare the small Caribbean island nation for disasters. Bridgham is a volunteer for the Dominica “Angels to Eden” airlift spearheaded by round-the-world pilot Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN.
“Almost a month after Hurricane Maria, there are still families waiting to hear whether their loved ones are alive or dead or in serious need of medical attention,” said Michelle Guenard, Machesney’s spouse and spokesperson for the joint effort. Guenard pointed out that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Dominica and its telecommunications infrastructure, “the only news of their families and friends was gleaned through the transmissions of local [Amateur Radio] operators.” She noted that many were able to listen to live streams of ham radio traffic via Facebook and YouTube live feeds.
Guenard explained that many Dominica expatriates now want to equip their home villages with ham radio stations, and she started a GoFundMe campaign for that purpose. “Once this equipment arrives and is installed throughout the island, we will have achieved our goal, ‘to provide every human being on the island of Dominica with the ability to call for help.’”