Many thanks to all who participated in communications activities during Hurricane Charley. In addition to EOC and shelter traffic on VHF and the Tar Heel Emergency Net on 75 and 40 meters, there was quite a bit of Skywarn activity during the storm.
Don't forget that the impact of the storm on Florida is tremendous. If you are able to help them, I hope you will do so. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army (as well as other organizations, I'm sure) can use donations, and there may be some volunteer opportunities as well.
Charley has long since passed out of the state. Most county EOCs and the Eastern Branch office have shut down. The Tar Heel Emergency Net ceased continuous operation last night after the 7:30 PM regular session, and no activation is expected today.
Around 60 American Red Cross shelters were opened during the storm, and at one point 1600 people had made use of these shelters, but many have closed. Most remaining are not having communications problems.
There have been some reports of a tornado in Tyrrell County as a result of the storm, and some other rough spots, but overall, we dodged a bullet this time.
Many thanks to all who have participated. Your commitment to your community is greatly appreciated.
At 5 PM the storm center was very near Windsor in Bertie County. The storm is moving NNE at 30 MPH, which means in a little over an hour the storm center will be in Virginia. Maximum sustained winds are still around 70 MPH.
The Tar Heel Emergency Net has moved back to 3923 kHz for the evening. There has been light to moderate net activity this afternoon. At 7:30 the regular net session will be convened, and a decision will be made at that time whether to keep the net active overnight or to resume operations in the morning.
E-mail at the Eastern Branch office is down and will not be repaired until Monday morning. Ron Knapp, W9EF, is checking the firstname.lastname@example.org account at home from time to time and can relay such messages to the Eastern Branch if needed. Because of this, please keep in mind that messages sent to that address will take longer to process than before.
Charley has been downgraded to a tropical storm. It continues to move NNE at around 30 MPH, and has sustained winds of 70 MPH. The storm is expected to weaken as it continues to move over land. Its quick movement over land should reduce the chance of flooding.
Contact your county EC to see if assistance is needed in your area. There have not been many pleas for help outside of local areas, and many EOCs and shelters that were opened "just in case" will probably be closing in the next few hours. Some will remain open in areas that were harder hit. However, here's one request recently made to the Tar Heel Emergency Net looking for a volunteer who can travel to Florida:
DE W4DON, DON, IN IREDELL COUNTY . . . . MESSAGE AS FOLLOWS: FROM: MR LARRY FREEZE, REGIONAL COORDINATOR N. C. BAPTIST MEN'S DISASTER RELIEF TEAM TELEPHONE: 704-664-2606 TO: TAR HEEL EMERGENCY NET STATIONS BT MR FREEZE HAS BEEN ALERTED TO PREPARE A TEAM FOR POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT TO = AN AREA NEEDING RELIEF, FLORIDA BEING HIGH PROBABILITY. HE IS REQUESTING ONE (1) RADIO AMATEUR (KNOWLEDGABLE OF EMERGENCY = OPERATIONS) TO DEPLOY WITH HIS TEAM. THIS WILL BE A 3 TO 4 DAY = DEPLOYMENT. =20 THEY HAVE 1992 (?) VINTAGE RADIO EQUIPMENT. NAME BRAND AND FREQUENCY IS = UNKNOWN BY HIM. PLEASE CALL HIM AT NUMBER ABOVE IF YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER. BT SIG: LARRY FREEZE, REGIONAL COORDINATOR, NC BAPTIST MEN'S DISASTER = RELIEF TEAM.=20 COMMENT FROM W4DON: I WOULD SUGGEST THE RADIO AMATEUR TAKE THEIR OWN VHF AND HF EQUIPMENT, = ANTENNAS, BATTERIES, ETC. BE PREPARED TO DEPLOY ANYTIME TODAY OR = TOMORROW. Don, W4DON
Governor Easley has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina. Many county EOCs are open and some shelters have been activated in anticipation of the storm.
Charley has reached landfall between Charleston and Myrtle Beach SC. It is moving NNE around 28 MPH, so hopefully will be out of the Carolinas quickly. Last sustained wind speeds reported were 75 MPH, which means it is still a hurricane, although probably not for long.
The Tar Heel Emergency Net (THEN) has recently moved to 7232 kHz and will remain on 40 meters as long as propagation requires before moving back to 3923 kHz later today.
Hurricane Charley has changed to a more easterly path, and will move back into the Atlantic Ocean before making landfall again somewhere between Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks. It may pick up strength when it is moving over the water, so this means it may still be hurricane strength when it affects us, instead of tropical storm strength as we originally expected.
Flooding remains the biggest concern. Many river banks are already near capacity from the rain we received from the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie, so more rain can only cause problems. Make sure YOU are ready to evacuate if conditions in your area warrant, and don't wait too late to make the decision!
Hurricane Charley has been upgraded to a category 3 hurricane. Recent measurements from aircraft announced at 1:15 PM may indicate that it is now category 4. In either case, it is a powerful storm. 2 million people have been asked to evacuate from Florida's west coast. This looks like it will be quite a storm. Hopefully, it will diminish by the time it reaches North Carolina. Still, we should expect 4 to 8 inches of rain, and flooding remains a great possibility.
The Eastern Branch EOC is fully operational as of Friday morning. The amateur radio station, NC4EB, has been activated with limited operational times today and will be activated full-time Saturday at 7 AM. They will be on 3923 kHz, the 145.27 MHz repeater in Farmville, packet radio NC4EB-3 on 145.05 MHz, and e-mail to email@example.com. They will be active on other frequencies as needed once the effect of the storm is known. The station will be active through at least Sunday evening, perhaps longer depending on the storm.
Hams in the Eastern Branch who wish to help after the storm should contact their county ECs for direction.
The Tar Heel Emergency Net will be active on 3923 kHz and 7232 kHz.
The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) will be activated at 7 AM Saturday. NC4EO, the amateur radio station at the State EOC, will be staffed starting today. Amateur radio is currently on standby.
Be alert, aware, and prepared. We might be needed in great numbers, or hardly at all, depending on what happens in the next 24 hours.
Hurricane Charley appears to be heading towards a landfall somewhere near Tampa, Florida on Friday afternoon. It is currently expected to follow a path that will cross Eastern NC near the Interstate 95 corridor on Saturday afternoon. At that time it will probably be tropical storm strength (39-73 mph sustained winds). However, almost the entire state of North Carolina is within the potential track area, so the actual path could be very different than what we expect today.
With Tropical Storm Bonnie expected to pass through the center of the state on Friday, we will really be getting a "one-two punch." The potential for flooding is significant. Make sure that you and your family are personally prepared to deal with flooding in your area if it occurs.
If in doubt, evacuate; I'd rather you be alive to help out during the next storm even if it means leaving during this one. Very few people die from hurricane winds; flooding causes most storm-related deaths. Joel Kline of the National Weather Service once said "if you can see the water, you're too close!"
I encourage each of you to make personal preparations for the storm. In addition, I hope you will be able to contribute to amateur radio disaster communications if necessary. With any luck, the storm will miss us or will have diminished to the point that we won't have to worry about it.
John Covington, W4CC
ARRL NC Section Manager