Over the past week, Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES®) teams in the ARRL Northern Florida Section went on alert and some activated to support emergency communication before and during Hurricane Michael.
Miller Norton, W4EMN, the Communications Watch Officer at the Duval County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, was monitoring SARnet — a UHF-linked repeater network in Florida — when he heard an urgent call for help that needed to be sent to the State EOC in Tallahassee. All other forms of communication were out, but Norton was able to relay the message to via Amateur Radio. He also passed along messages and requests from the Jackson County EOC to the American Red Cross. Norton said officials in Tallahassee and Jackson County were both “incredibly grateful” for the way the SARnet system functioned during the weather emergency.
Jackson County Emergency Coordinator Ricky Whittington, KD4AST, deployed to the county EOC in Marianna.
“We took a direct hit by the center of the storm at 140 MPH,” he told Clay County ARES Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC) and Public Information Officer Scott Roberts, KK4ECR. “[The] county maintenance building across the road from the EOC was picked up and slammed into the north side and over the roof of the EOC just prior to the eye passing over.”