HAM Radio: Last Line of Defense in Disaster Communication - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

HAM Radio: Last Line of Defense in Disaster Communication

Gordon Mooneyhan, PIO Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club Gordon Mooneyhan, PIO Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Hurricane Matthew's winds toppled trees, knocking out some of our main sources of power and communication. IF a stronger storm were strike our area, what is our last line of defense to communicate DURING a disaster? 

Despite our growing dependence on digital communication, radio is an old, yet reliable technology that still has a place, and a large community of volunteers utilizing it, including Gordon Mooneyhan.

"It’s meeting people around the world, I can travel the world without leaving home."

The love of radio started for Mooneyhan when he was a young kid AND his parents got him a short wave receiver, which he still has.

He now uses his radio hobby to help others as a member of the Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club, and especially in disaster situations. 

"A storm could come in and knock everything down, cell phones would be out, cell towers would be down, I could take a wire, hook it to the back of this radio and hook it to my car battery and talk around the world."

During Hurricane Matthew, he was on the front lines relaying conditions on the ground with what meteorologists were seeing on the radar. 

"Information when the eyewall passed us, wind speeds, all stuff they need. The ground truth that radar doesn't tell them."

Gordon isn't alone on this mission. He estimates hundreds of Amateur radio operators live in Horry County and over a thousand more across the Pee Dee. 

Matthew McGuire, coordinator of Horry County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), states that the assistance of amateur radio operators is critical. 

"Cell phones systems still aren't designed to take that degree of traffic at that point in time. So down they go, so then you have Amateur radio to provide back up communication for the shelters."

Despite being an older, yet reliable technology, Gordon says the future of radio still sounding good. 

"Yes it's an old fashioned technology, but at the same time, we keep coming up with new ways to do things and so yes, I think HAM radio will keep on."

In addition to hurricanes and evacuations, the Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club provides back up assistance for events for local events, such as the Myrtle Beach Marathon and the Special Olympics. 

If becoming a radio operator is up your alley, the Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club is participating in the American Radio Relay League's Field Day at Coastal Carolina University Science Center on June 24th. It starts at 2pm. More info: http://w4gs.org/A/

Mooneyhan estimates over a thousand licensed HAM Operators across the Pee Dee and a few hundred across the Grand Strand. He also adds there are about 750 thousand operators in the US and nearly 3 million worldwide to communicate information.

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