Ham Radio Volunteers Deploy Throughout Puerto Rico

A team of 20 Amateur/Ham Radio operators have volunteered and have been deployed to Puerto Rico, to assist the hurricane-affected island in partnership with the American Red Cross.

The team of volunteers will provide communications for local law enforcement and utility managers; island-to-mainland health-and-welfare traffic, which has been ongoing, and contact with the more remote areas of Puerto Rico, cut off from the capital of San Juan and not heard from since the Hurricane Maria affected the island on 20th September 2017.

Volunteers initially gathered at the convention center in San Juan, which is serving as Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) headquarters. Their first night, a local church offered accommodations, and volunteers slept on pews that had been pushed together.
— ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U

Before the team's arrival, ARRL Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and other volunteers have staffed VHF and HF nets at the American Red Cross temporary headquarters, despite damage to their own homes. The net covers nearly two-thirds of the island and has been handling traffic to and from the power company, Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (Electric Power Authority — AEE), and state and local authorities. The electric distribution infrastructure suffered extreme storm damage, and power has remained out over most of the island. 

An Amateur Radio station has been installed and an operator embedded at the Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Center (PREOC). Radio amateurs also have been asked to establish VHF communication capabilities at 51 hospitals throughout the island, so they can have direct contact with the PREOC. Local hams will staff that facility for now. The volunteer embedded at the PREOC is serving as liaison between the PREOC and the FEMA Emergency Support Function (ESF-2) task force, relaying information among the Red Cross, ARRL, FEMA, and the ESF-2 task force. An Amateur Radio team also is in Jacuo.