The territory’s radio clubs immediately got into action. Operators in St. Croix ham quickly established a daily high frequency (HF) network for first responder agencies. A single surviving ham repeater provided limited communications between the islands. These links provided essential information and communications to government and non-government agencies, including FEMA, the Department of Defense, the Transportation Security Agency, the National Park Service, the VI National Guard, the Red Cross and local police and fire departments.
A grant of $ 27,955 from Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) will help them strengthen ham radio infrastructure and train new ham radio operators, thus improving their ability to respond to disasters in the future. The funds will enable the Virgin Islands Amateur Radio Group (VIARG) – a group formed after the 2017 hurricanes – to purchase backup repeaters, commercial-grade antennas that will improve repeater resilience and coverage, and training equipment to help new hobbyists get licensed and on the air.
VIARG President Fred Kleber, K9VV (NP2X) commented, “The generous grant from ARDC will enable VIARG to improve and strengthen the territory’s critical amateur repeater system, and the addition of branded digital communication capabilities. a new chapter for new and future lovers of the territory.
About Virgin Island Amateur Radio Group (VIARG)
The Virgin Islands Amateur Repeater Group (VIARG) was formed in 2017 following the devastating Category 5 twin hurricanes Irma and Maria in the territory of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The main objective of VIARG is to implement, maintain and expand a linked repeater system to connect USVI radio amateurs and promote amateur radio in the territory. In doing so, VIARG supports its federal and territorial partners, as well as other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Learn more about amateur radio in the US Virgin Islands at vihamradio.org.
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) is a California-based foundation with roots in amateur radio and Internet communication technology. The organization began by managing the allocations of the AMPRNet address space, which is intended for licensed amateur radio operators worldwide. In addition, ARDC provides grants to projects and organizations that follow the practice and tradition of amateur radio technical experimentation in the areas of amateur radio and digital communication science. Learn more about ARDC at ampr.org.