Nassau County Amateur Radio Operators Facilitate Communications After Hurricane Michael

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The Nassau County Amateur Radio Emergency Services Team (NCARES) is assisting state emergency management authorities with a communications network and technical expertise in Panhandle counties hard hit by Hurricane Michael.

The hurricane destroyed critical infrastructure in several counties west of Tallahassee. Many rely on volunteer amateur radio operators using the state amateur radio network (SARnet) to relay information about structural damage, supply shortages, and requests for assistance from the Panhandle to northeast Florida. . These needs can be integrated directly into the web-based emergency management disaster information and mission request system, said Nassau County emergency management spokeswoman Martha Oberdorfer.

A non-profit organization, NCARES pays for all of its equipment and operations through donations and two annual barbecue fundraisers. Volunteers donate their time and resources to Nassau County Emergency Management, which provides staff to the county surveillance office, Oberdorfer said.

During disasters, they do whatever is necessary to ensure emergency messages get where they need to go. NCARES members towed their mobile communications center — joining Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Detective Thomas Kelley in the agency’s mobile communications vehicle.

Their mission is to provide emergency power as well as assist with dispatch capabilities and help repair what they can to improve public safety communication in devastated counties, she said.

It was unclear how long they would be deployed, authorities said.

Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075


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