By WVU Today
On September 20, Hurricane Maria made direct land fall on Puerto Rico as a category four storm with sustained winds of more than 150 miles per hour. The powerful storm left behind a path of destruction that caused the entire territory to lose electricity, leaving 3.5 million residents without clean water or communication services.
A month later, most of Puerto Rico’s communication systems, including cell towers, are still offline. Officials are reporting that it will take more than six months for power to be restored to the island so the WVUARC club decided to get involved.
“It came to our attention that many members within the WVU community have still been unable to reach family members in Puerto Rico,” said WVUARC member Cameron Hale, a petroleum and natural gas engineering major from Blaine. “Amateur radio operators are currently providing the primary means of getting messages in and out of the affected areas so it’s our intention to provide individuals affected by the disaster with some peace of mind.”
Using their equipment housed in the Shack on the 10th floor of the Engineering Sciences Building on the Evansdale Campus, the WVUARC will begin transmitting messages of up to 25 words to the National Traffic System, which will be forwarded through a series of operators until they reach Puerto Rico. Affiliates in the area will then distribute the messages and collect responses.
“Since the area is getting a lot of attention at the moment we anticipate that it will be a few days before messages are received in Puerto Rico and then several more days before we hear a reply,” said Hale. “However, our primary goal is simply to reconnect students and individuals with their loved ones in their time of need no matter how long it takes.”
Members of the WVU community can utilize the services offered by the WVUARC by contacting Cameron Hale at [email protected] or 270.748.7707.
For more about WVU’s response to natural disasters this year, read WVU mobilizes hurricane aid efforts for Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
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