Hermine Makes an Impact
Madison County was severely impacted by Hermine when it came ashore on Thursday night. Madison ARES was active already having committed to support of the Capital District ARES group and participating with them on their evening nets starting on Monday. Madison ARES was activated in our role as support communication on that Thursday afternoon by Alan Whigham Madison’s Emergency Director who found me, WA1TCC, next to the EOC at the Madison Senior Center. He asked for support for the Emergency Shelter at the Madison Central School. I had already volunteered for first coverage with our team so I was prepared to respond. I notified K4NRD, Pat Madison ARES EC of the activation and I headed home to gather gear. I met with Jennifer Johnson from the County Health Department at 6 PM at the Central School. She had been informed that I would be the Health Department’s support for the evening and she was waiting for me to arrive. I assessed what would be needed for the night and headed out to get my gear. I arrived at the shelter at 8:00 PM and proceeded to introduce myself to the two deputies and the Red Cross Shelter Manager.
Madison ARES did not have an established presence at the shelter so I needed to assess what I could use and how to set it up. The nurses where exceedingly helpful making room and power connections available. I set up the following:
A cross band repeater using my car radio going from UHF to VHF into our local repeater.
A police Scanner
A weather alert Radio
Two HT Radios one for the local repeater and one for Tallahassee coverage
A laptop connected to the school Wi-Fi with web pages to Weather Channel, TV6 and Local Radar
A Verizon Hot spot in case of Internet outage (3 AM we lost electricity and the broad band was not on backup)
60 Plus people came to the shelter through the night some just before the eye wall hit us. We had a number of pets – cats, dogs and a few rabbits. Through the help of the Health Department we brought the animals in out of the weather and made a number of people happy and lost no animals. An occasional woof was all we heard.
I can state how professional the Board of health nurses were. They brought everything they would need for any emergency. Though they were there for special needs attendees their presence made all of the shelter attendees comfortable and calm during the night.
The storm may have hammered Madison and the surrounding area but we were safe inside with the backup generator bouncing a few times and then going full tilt at 3 AM as the eye wall hit. I made the mistake of going out to reset my radio at 3 AM and found myself doing a Cantore in the parking lot. From reports it was 80 MPH winds and I was on my knees for 5 minutes before I could make a break back to the shelter.
ARES was not needed for any traffic that night. That is a good thing. We were appreciated for providing details of what was happening outside from the storm and providing outside voices so everyone knew we were still connected to the world. To all those Amateurs who were on the air the nurses and attendees were listening and gave a great thanks for being there.
I closed up with the weather breaking at 8:00 AM. It was later determined that Madison was in need of a cooling and recovery site so the Central School Gym was opened to provide showers, snacks and cool air for Madison families. Alan KI4IFH our Emergency Manager and his wife manned the first shift and Jim, W4FAO and his Wife Sarah, KD4SMA took second shift. At noon it was decided that the shelter was not required with most families staying with family or friends.
Madison ARES learned a lot from this storm. We also are so grateful for all our members and those of the surrounding districts who helped through the storm. We are going to do a run through on what happened and how we can do it better next time at our meeting Tuesday September 13 6:30 at the Madison EOC. All are welcome!