The figurative light is breaking in the various counties of Kentucky hit by the devastating storm.
RADIO AMATEURS PITCH IN
Radio amateurs (hams) have been operating an emergency net for two weeks now. In this particular case, the Red Cross contacted ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services) and requested radio help. For two weeks the hams have been making and maintaining connections in and out of Kentucky. Immediately after a disaster, the only thing working can be amateur radio. Amateurs train for these events and provide volunteer services. If the power is out, phones are generally out. Cell phones were down also. Hams can talk locally or well out of the area, depending on equipment, time, and frequency.
FEMA has apparently changed its mind (or had its mind changed) and is getting started doing whatever it is they do (aside from refusing to help, as they did initially).
The National Guard has started going door-to-door checking on residents who have remained in their homes. Unfortunately, that means the death toll is rising. It’s something like 25 and the Guard hasn’t started checking the counties yet. First responders are forecasting a grim total.
Most of the deaths have been from carbon monoxide poisoning, but a few have been
from hypothermia. I am told that these deaths could have been prevented if things had been handled well.
We’re not really strong on disaster response. No matter how much practice we get.
From the area:
I stood in line yesterday to get food and water at a National Guard post and did
receive a ready-heat meal, ice, and bottled water. We’re still under a warning to boil water, as the water treatment plants are still not working at full capacity. I got to the National Guard armoury two hours before they actually started passing out food and was already eleventh in line. Military police were on standby, which was an eerie feeling. Driving around is very sad, as you can really see how much was destroyed.
We’re still without power, and as we had some structural damage as well, we will
likely be without power for at least another week, up to three more weeks.
HATS OFF TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THE UTILITIES:
Power is being restored to the area as quickly as possible. The utility companies have been amazing. They’re working sixteen-hour rotating shifts day and night. I think something like 25% of the rural area in the county and 70% of the town has been restored. The damage at the hydroelectric system was much more severe than we had first been told, but it’s actually fully restored now as well, and they’re working on individual circuits.
FROM A HAM IN CALLOWAY COUNTY:
I live in neighboring Calloway County and go to college in Graves County. Things are certainly still a mess out here. Today makes day seven that I have had no power. Thankfully we do have a generator for the house, which is good because it could still be up to about three more weeks before we have power. Several public school systems have decided to close until further notice due to trees/power lines in the
roads and a lack of power at the schools. Most of the city/county curfews have been lifted, though a few remain in place. It has been estimated that about two months of work will be necessary before utilities are running as they should be.
This winter storm was good for our area in a number of ways. This is the first statewide emergency we’ve had in a while, so many agencies had to work together. Amateur radio’s benefits were seen very well. Here in Calloway County we had hams assisting with communications in several places. Our local two meter repeater was also one of the few still working in the area.
That’s just a little of what happened. Power has been out for seven days, land line service was out for about sixty hours. The same was true for AT&T cell service, which is mostly working now, though individual towers still go down on occasion when the generators run out of fuel.
Many thanks to Matt, Grey_Rain, and the other people providing information and on-the-spot reporting, as it were.
Considering that it could be another month before things are close to where they should be, it’s even more confusing that there is a virtual news blackout on this story. I would have thought disaster made very interesting news. Apparently not.
Safety, health, and good luck to the people caught in the way of the weather (and the governments).