Amateur Radio Responds to Flooding in Western Europe
From ARRL de WD1CKS@VERT/WLARB to QST on Monday, July 19, 2021 18:20:41
International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator Greg Mossop, G0DUB, reported over the weekend that amateur radio volunteers have responded in the wake of widespread and catastrophic flooding in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The flooding, resulting from unprecedented heavy rainfall, has claimed more than 120 lives. Hundreds more remain unaccounted for.
The Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service (DARES) was on standby since July 14, as the first reports of flooding came in. An initial attempt to establish a point-to-point link from the provincial capital of Maastricht to the north of Limburg province was halted due to heavy traffic, as residents evacuated low-lying areas. DARES volunteers were in contact with members of the Belgian Emergency Amateur Radio Service (B-EARS) to coordinate their efforts.
The European Civil Protection Mechanism was activated, and emergency groups across the region reported their governments were sending extra assistance and supplies to the areas where damage was worst. The flood water surge continued to make its way north, leading to further evacuations, and amateur radio emergency groups focused on requests for assistance. B-EARS asked to provide a backup VHF link between the emergency call center in Brussels and the province of Hainaut through Friday, while DARES had four stations active in the Limburg area ready to respond if needed.
The greatest loss of life and damage has occurred in Germany, where more than 1,000 residents remain unaccounted for. The loss of mobile telecommunication networks has slowed the effort to locate people, while many others are without power or homes. The emergency communications unit of the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) has been handling inquiries for amateur radio support in the worst-hit areas, but members in the area have been flood victims as well, losing equipment or their homes.
"Amateur radio clubs have been in contact with relevant authorities, but there is currently no need for operational support from radio amateurs," the DARC reported. A mutual aid arrangement exists among amateur radio organizations in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Mossop said emergency communications groups in the affected and surrounding regions are ready to respond to requests and have been coordinating their efforts as needed.
"This emergency will last for some time as infrastructure is repaired and the threat from damaged dams and more rainfall is reduced," Mossop said. -- Thanks to IARU, DARC