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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB064 (1998)

ARLB064 Bonnie visits Virginia

ARRL Bulletin 64  ARLB064
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  August 28, 1998
To all radio amateurs

ARLB064 Bonnie visits Virginia

Hurricane Bonnie has moved away from North Carolina and now is
unleashing her renewed fury on the Tidewater area of Southeastern
Virginia. Bonnie was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday, August
27, and emergency preparations had abated. But the storm picked up
steam again as it headed north and regained hurricane status,
catching hams and emergency officials off guard. The storm was
sitting off the North Carolina/Virginia Border today and was
expected to hug the coast on its way to New England.

On August 26, Virginia ARES/RACES activated in anticipation of the
storm. Virginia State RACES Officer and ARES SEC Frank Mackey, K4EC,
reported that local emergency operation centers were staffed with
hams, and many shelters opened in anticipation of evacuations. ARES
station W4ZA at the state EOC was activated. As the storm appeared
to be losing strength, Mackey reported ham radio operations stood
down and shelters were closed. Then, Bonnie changed her mind.

The Tidewater area--including Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia
Beach, and Chesapeake--has experienced heavy rain and damaging winds
clocked unofficially at more than 100 MPH.

The home of District 9 Emergency Coordinator Cynthia Rohrer, AE4EF,
in Chesapeake suffered extensive structural damage, and outbuildings
were totally demolished. ''It was impossible for her to get out of
their residence due to extensive debris,'' Mackey said. ''Damage from
fallen trees and downed power poles appears to be very extensive.''
He said emergency managers and police were asking people to stay off
the streets unless absolutely necessary.

Virginia Electric Power reported more than 250,000 customers without
power. Officials closed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel due to the
strong winds. A roof was reported blown off an apartment building in
the Oceanview section of Norfolk.

''The Norfolk area was still reeling under continued battering,
higher-than-expected tidal surge coupled with local high tides, and
strong winds,'' Mackey said Friday.

SKYWARN and emergency nets remained active in the region.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Section Manager Reed Whitten, AB4W,
reports many shelters and EOCs had released their Amateur Radio
operators, and HF nets went into standby mode. A few EOCs and
shelters remain active, and the Tar Heel Emergency Net (3.923/7.232
MHz) was monitoring for them. The net remained in continuous
operation for more than two days, providing communication for
Emergency Management and relief agencies.

Bonnie could move into the Northeast by the weekend. Hams in the
Southeast have been keeping close watch on Hurricane Danielle, which
could arrive August 31.

In Texas, meanwhile, the remnants of Tropical Storm Charley flooded
parts of South Texas, leaving much of the town of Del Rio near the
Rio Grande under water. At least 15 deaths in Texas and Mexico were
blamed on the floods. Del Rio remained under a flash flood warning
on Thursday, and President Clinton declared Val Verde County a
disaster area.

Among the hams known to be passing message traffic with the Del Rio
area was Loyd Overcash, KM5OE, in Houston. In New Braunfels, South
Texas Section Manager Ray Taylor, N5NAV, worked with the American
Red Cross and the Texas Department of Public Safety to coordinate
communication. He also helped pass health-and-welfare traffic for
those with family and friends in the flooded areas.

Hams in South Texas were asked August 24 to cooperate by recognizing
a voluntary communications emergency and relinquishing frequencies
on 40 and 75 meters for emergency and health-and-welfare traffic.
The communications emergency was canceled August 27.


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