Tracking the Tropics


Amateur Radio operators ready to assist during Karen

Amateur (or "Ham") Radio operators are mobilizing to help provide emergency communications along the Gulf Coast if needed, in preparation for Tropical Storm Karen. Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers from the Florida panhandle to Lafayette, Louisiana are ready to serve at a moment's notice, in the event normal communications infrastructure is rendered inoperative.

Trained, Federally-licensed Amateur Radio operators liaison with State and County Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) as well as other served agencies, including FEMA and the Red Cross. Hams are capable of providing essential communications throughout a disaster area without the need of the Internet or telephone infrastructure.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Amateur Radio established the only reliable communications network for the first several days after Katrina made landfall. Amateur Radio's response during the recent flooding in Colorado established communication links between state and local governmental agencies with several communities that were rendered completely isolated, assisting with evacuations and damage assessment.

Local contacts in the affected area of Tropical Storm Karen are available to discuss their response efforts. Email to arrange an interview.

What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur, or "Ham," Radio, is a popular service and hobby in which federally licensed participants operate communications equipment. There are over 700,000 licensed amateurs in the United States. Hams talk to each other across town, around the world and even into space without the need for normal communications infrastructure, such as cell phone networks or the Internet. Amateur Radio is regularly used during natural disasters to help local emergency and served agencies respond when normal communications methods are disrupted. The Amateur Radio community is a great source of electronics experimentation, public service and fun.

More information on Amateur Radio's role in emergencies at

More information on Amateur Radio can be found at


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