When devastating fires ravaged North Bay communities last fall, many communication devices and services proved inadequate to the need. Mike Von der Porten has this Perspective on one that did not.
Last October, devastating fires roared from Calistoga to Santa Rosa. Sadly, many people perished and many, many more homes were lost.
Much has been made of the difficulties and failures in spreading the word so citizens could get ready and get out safely. People dropping their land lines, turning off their cell phones, not signing up for alerts such as Nixle and other alerts, and dropping their use of traditional media all contributed to the problem.
What worked, though, was amateur radio.
The red flag warnings had been posted long in advance. The TV news already had fire reports. Amateur radio operators around Sonoma County turned on their radios and a Fire Net was established. Operators reported first-hand observations, relayed information gleaned from fire and law enforcement frequencies, and shared their Nixle and other notifications.