Aloha to All,
I was asked this question this morning; in responding, a
possible affirmative answer to the question of use of
crank up towers occured; also, perhaps the usefulness
of an amateur radio operator in the area, with still some
sort of intact antenna set up, after an emergency
situation occurs. Long, but maybe of interest to you.
.>Were you there (that is, on the Island of Kauai) during the
>hurricane a few yrs ago? I understand it took out all communication off
>the island except for one ham... is that the story you've heard?
Yes, it's all too true.
Oh, we were here! Jerry Hill, KH6HU, a high school teacher,
was able to get out nearly immediately on Friday night from the Waimea
High School station, just hours after the hurricane cleared Kauai.
He had battery power and got a couple of contacts to the
mainland on 40 meters before his battery went down.
He lost his home.
The next morning, Dr. John Dillon, KH6FMT, who uses
solar panels to keep his batteries charging was able to get
contact (15 M) for one of his neighbors to the Citizen Utilities
headquarters in Arizona. He got a quicky description of
the power situation to them: essentially that certainly hundreds
of their utility poles were down. Later it was determined that
about 7000 poles out of about 16000 of their poles were
down in the storm. The island was without commercial
electric power for many, many weeks before gradually begining
to come back up. Both John and Jerry were using tossed
up dipoles; John used 15 meters to hit Arizona via dipole.
Thank God we had a 5kW Honda generator. By Sunday
morning (the peak of the hurrican was Friday afternoon
between 2:30 and 3:00 pm) I got back on the air. My
big quad (30' boom, 4 elements) became a pretzel; but
the driven element loop on 20 meters was ok. My son
and I managed to disentangle it from the rest of the mess,
and he climbed up a ladder and thru the center spider
hub over the top of my telescoping tower, which we
had lowered the Friday morning before the winds got
over 40 or 50 mph. So I had a roughly horizontal
full wave loop on 20, a generator and dry rig. The
US Tower MA-550 did fine in the storm while
lowered, so cracnked it back up with the quad
driven element wobbling on the top, and away
Took a few calls, but I at last got somebody's
attention in California, and very soon was on the
UN emergency frequency of 14268, and there
I remained for the next weeks. Neither Jerry
nor John were back on the air again after the first
weekend, for various reasons: John's home was also
totaled, and Jerry lost access to the High School
property on Monday after the storm due to the
structure damage and liability problems, plus his
own personal losses.
So, for a few days, until we got a lot more help
to the island, I was pretty much the HF link to the
mainland and beyond. Mostly health and welfare
outgoing traffic; had no way to distribute incoming
for awhile, so did not take any for first couple of
weeks. Police had set up roadblocks, etc. Just
about everyone on my side of the island used this
QTH as a way to inform family and friends elsewhere
in the world of their personnal situations after Iniki.
The relaying operators on the US West Coast who
kept watch over us on the UN frequency were
By Monday and Tuesday, a few helicopters got
over here from Honolulu carrying some emergency
folks and Red Cross types to scope out our situation.
The runway at our airport was closed to all except
emergency traffic for several days. A few thousand
tourists were trapped here for most of a week
before the military arrived, cleared the runway
and began to allow a couple of commercial carriers
in to haul off island those who wanted/had
Other Hawaiian hams from the other islands began to
get here and set up some links, primarily on 40 SSB
over to Oahu from various places as fire and police
stations by Tuesday, coordinated by the Red Cross.
Pretty soon we had hams showing up from just
about everywhere in the world; one even came
up from Australia to help. Of course, everyone
of us had many talk-stories to tell when it was all
over some months later. The Kauai ARC put on a picnic
and sort of story telling time of "what I did to help"
during the Iniki recovery time. Of course people from
the Red Cross, etc. were there to express their
thanks for our help.
FEMA finally got a couple of emergency communication
vans here, and they were manned, at least in part within
a couple of weeks by ham operators. They too got on the
Red Cross, US Military, and FEMA types all began to
get here en-mass within 4 or 5 days of Iniki. Biggest
impact was via the Navy and some VERY large cargo
ships that showed up the second week with BIG generators,
heavy equipment, and lots of badly needed food! We
all knew we would make it through the mess once the
military got here, got things under control and provisions
in the stores again. Still, the Army stood at the doors
of the few open stores controlling access. Of course
the stores could not reopen until the military had
put generators beside a few of the major stores and
a couple of the banks so people could get money!
At the peak, 4 or 5 weeks after the storm, there were
some 6000 Army, Nat Guard, Marines, etc.
added to Kauai! They were super in helping with
the clean up of debris, and even helping to re-roof
homes.(Which began to upset local contractors, as
they wanted the work!)
Also had to get generators to a few gasoline stations so
people could fill there tanks, of both autos and the few
generators on island at the time the storm hit. Within
a couple of weeks, the most valuable item on the
island next to food became a generator. Then every
neighbor hood began to have noise pollution problems!
This became pretty much resolved as people found they
really didn't need to operate their generators 24 hours per
day, usually even 6 hours or so being enough, given the
scarcity of fuel, this became essentially the norm; no
generators before about 7 am, nor after 8 pm. Most
people didn't have to get up to go to work for a couple
of weeks, as they couldn't get there, and there was
no way anything could be done once there!
Was a very disturbing time to live through for all of us; no
one here looks forward to anything like Iniki striking here
again. We still can not buy home owners insurance from
the mainland companies, though I have heard rumors that
one or two may begin writing policies out here again.
The island economy is still in the dumps; 4 of 7 or so
major resorts are still closed! We still, therefore, do not
have enough facility to get back our share of the Hawaiian
tourist trade. We have lost about 10,000 of our pre
hurrican population; most of the young working people
have left; no need for the botiques, surf shops, etc
until more tourists get back!
The Sheraton has begun rebuilding their seaside facilities, but
the resort Elvis Presley made famous with his movies, the
Coco Palms, will probably never reopen; the Hong Kong
based Waiohai and Poipu Beach hotels may or may not ever
be repaired/rebuilt, depends a lot on what happens in Hong
Kong this coming Summer when Britain leaves, I suppose.
Personnaly, for me to be on the UN emergency net for hours
at a time was a great relief away from contemplating the mess
about our own home. We were not badly damaged; consisted
only of high speed hits by debris from other homes in our area
which were badly damaged. You would be surprised how
far the entire roof from a house can sail in 140 mph winds;
at least 2 blocks and more! Home videos taken here on Kauai
show several such sailing in progress!
Seems ironic that we moved out here, believing we were
escaping potetial natural disastors. Our home in California
had been badly damaged during the Loma Prieta Earthquake
in 1989. So 11 months after we got here, Iniki banged us
good. But will take another hurricane any day to a mag 7.1
or greater earthquake! Hurricanes you can prepare for,
earthquakes just happen, with aftershocks rattling your
nerves for weeks after. No thanks! Every amateur radio
operator in California should have a generator, emergency
antennas of some sort, and participate in ARES exercises,
even if he does not want to be a formal member! BTW,
the Kauai ARC 2 meter repeaters were all knocked out
by the hurricane. The one on Mnt. Kahili was found way
down the mountain side! So prepare to be on your own.
Harden that antenna installation in case the worst strikes!
Sorry to have written so much, Bryan. But very glad I
was sort of prepared to react under this situation, and
very pleased my US Tower crank-up withstood both the
wind and a few hits by flying 2x4's. They must be much
stronger when retracted, mine was down to about 23 feet
and is sitting on a couple cube yards of concrete, 3x3x6 feet,
in the ground below.