Toledo-Area Amateur Radio Operators Help Hurricane Victims - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Toledo-Area Amateur Radio Operators Help Hurricane Victims

TOLEDO -- With communications along the Gulf Coast virtually nonexistent in many areas, some of your neighbors are helping to keep the lines open. The Lucas County Amateur Radio Emergency Services are passing along messages from people in our area to loved ones and friends affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In a darkened corner of the Lucas County 911 building in Toledo sat Stephen Bellner from the Amateur Radio Emergency Services. "Okay, I have one piece of traffic for... Mississippi," said Bellner as he talked into his black radio box. Bellner was relaying a concerned message from a woman in our area who was trying to find her brother.

As part of the radio network, that message and others like it are going to be sent every night for as long as needed at 6:40pm to other Ohio contacts and eventually they'll make their way to the hurricane hit areas. Operators hand write the notes verbatim. "So, that the message is as complete as possible from start to finish," Bellner told News 11.

It's not the first time Bellner has done this kind service for people in our area. "[I helped] when Andrew hit, when Dennis hit [and] last year when they had the three go through Florida." Bellner said he feels good about helping people get in touch with their loved ones at a time when it's extremely difficult to hear anything from the coast. "Amateur radio operators not only know how to get on the air, but stay on the air especially when power goes out and disasters occur," Bellner added.

He went on to tell us the operators are a national resource since there are more than 600,000 of them in the U.S. He also told us there are many already down in the disaster areas, all on a volunteer basis.

If you have a message of 25 words or less that you need to get to a loved one in the disaster zone, write it down with your name, address, phone number and e-mail.  Also give the name and complete last known address for the recipient, and take it to any Toledo Fire station.  The firefighters will forward those messages to the nightly amateur radio broadcasts.

Posted by AEB

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