As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, radio amateurs in Connecticut are gearing up to assist with relief efforts as once the powerful storm makes landfall in the United States.
Channel 3 visited the National Office for Amateur Radio in Newington and got a closer look at how people are assisting with communication down south.
When natural disasters strike, the ability to communicate can become much* more difficult.
"Cellular networks can be disrupted, public safety networks can be disrupted," Mike Corey, who is the emergency preparedness manager at the American Radio Relay League, said. "And of course, the number of volunteer organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army that respond to these, also need communication support."
Corey explained there are about 750,000 licensed amateur radio operators in United States. These operators can make calls for help and support first responders in dire situations.
"They can also use their technical skills to set things up like charging stations, setting up networks so that there's connectivity in emergency operation center," Corey said. "They can also provide ground truth reporting to the national weather service and hurricane center."
The American Radio Relay League has kits filled with radio equipment. Some have already been deployed to Florida, and others could be sent down at a moment’s notice.
Corey added a number of radio amateurs have been assisting down in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. They're now gearing up for Irma's worst by getting generators, radios and antennas ready.
"And they've already done in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where it's already made landfall," Corey said.
Beyond communicating with one another, these operators can also contact the American Radio Relay League where people at headquarters can relay information to partners such as Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Corey said above all, the safety of these radio amateurs is their number one priority.
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