The following was sent to me by a confidant with decades of experience working with relief agencies, in addition to being one of the most knowledgeable Amateur Radio operators out there today. Maria’s aftermath on Puerto Rico is compounded by the fact that the island’s crippling welfare state and decades of nepotism has lead to excuse making and blame deferment by the island’s leadership that would make Ray Nagin blush. Regardless of all that, it’s about as close to a real-world WROL event as it gets.
The island during the event lost nearly 100% power and had no communications means whatsoever. While Amateur Radio operators give lip service to emergency communications capabilities via ARES and RACES, usually with training events tied into repeater use or HF nodes (Winlink for example), the bare bones fundamentals- making your gear work when the world is upside down- are usually up to the end users. Operating efficiently on one’s own created infrastructure, independent of anything other than what they have sitting in front of them, is essential.
-Power is both an essential and a big security risk when you have it and
the neighbors do not. Planning ahead for this is a big deal. This
report states that it may be a YEAR before power is back on for the
whole island. I expect we’ll see and hear more about that in the near
-Having the ability to use propane, especially if you have a gasoline
generator, strikes me as an excellent idea. I have both diesel and gas
capability but I’m looking into that now.
-only 1 week into the aftermath and there is already widespread
breakdown of social order; organized looting, puncturing of vehicle
tanks to steal gasoline. What will things be like in a month?
-Nobody, *including the military*, and I mean NOBODY, even the person
reporting in, who has done better than 99.9% of the 4 million folks on
the island, has any conception of the capability of HF radio for short
range regional communications. HF NVIS would have been able to span the
entire island the day after the hurricane went through, if there were
trained and equipped operators on hand. *Every person* who is serious
about personal preparedness ought to commit to getting their General
Class amateur license, and get on the air. You know who you are! <grin>
And NO, I am not going to accept the ARRL’s invitation to volunteer to
go to PR. Only an idiot would. As the transportation systems come back
online, I expect to see a massive exodus from PR, followed by a complete
collapse of the local economy.
-The local corruptocracy frittered away all the disaster funding the US
gave them over the last few decades on social programs and did nothing
to prepare for a major hurricane impact. Shocking, but I’m sure the
local authorities here in CONUS have taken action to protect the power
grid against cyberhacking attacks, EMP, and other threats. Oh, wait…..
-2000 bodies in local morgues with the power off……
-Massive unreported landslide with unknown casualties………….
-the abuse of other branches of the DOD by the Coast Guard is also
After the coming die-off and relocation/depopulation of the island,
Puerto Rico might be worth a look as a retirement location, but only if
they reverse their legal position on firearms ownership. Right now, the
right to bear arms is not recognized in PR. Watch what happens…..
So upon reading this, a serious skill assessment should be in order. If you’re the communicator in your group:
- Can you rig your own wire antennas?
- Do you have the rough calculations to make them resonant?
- Do you have the current consumption of your various radios written down and a way to monitor it?
- How long can you operate battery-only?
- Do you have enough spare equipment to keep your station up if Murphy happens?
- Do you have a working knowledge of different propagation modes (such as why NVIS does what it does)
But most important- how many people can also do what you do in your group?