Recovery

Nassau County Amateur Radio Operators Aid Communications Following Hurricane Michael

During disasters, they do whatever needed to ensure emergency messages get to where they need to go.

by Teresa Stepzinski, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville / October 14, 2018

(TNS) - Nassau County's Amateur Radio Emergency Services (NCARES) team is helping state emergency management authorities with communications networking and technical expertise in Panhandle counties hard hit by Hurricane Michael.

The hurricane destroyed critical infrastructure throughout several counties west of Tallahassee. Many are relying on volunteer Ham Radio operators utilizing the State Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) to relay information about structural damage, supply shortages and requests for assistance from the Panhandle to Northeast Florida. Those needs can be put directly into Emergency Management's web-based disaster information and mission request system, said Martha Oberdorfer, spokeswoman for Nassau County Emergency Management.

A nonprofit, NCARES pays for all of its equipment and operations through donations and two annual barbecue fundraisers. Volunteers donate their time and resources to Nassau County Emergency Management staffing the County Watch Office, Oberdorfer said.

During disasters, they do whatever needed to ensure emergency messages get to where they need to go. NCARES members towed their Mobile Communications Center — joining Nassau County Sheriff's Office detective Thomas Kelley in the agency's Mobile Communications Vehicle.

Their mission is to provide emergency generator power as well as aiding dispatch capabilities and helping repair what they can to improve public safety communication in the devastated counties, she said.

It was unknown how long they would be deployed, authorities said.

Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075

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