Friday, September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico: This Is An Actual Emergency

     While The Nation was fuming over the people of Peurto Rico left suffering without air-conditioning thanks to cold, uncaring Mr. Trump, various agencies both public and private were rushing aid to the battered U.S. Territory.  The Feds bestirred themselves to wink at the 1920 Jones Act, which limits cargo transport between U. S. ports to U.S. flagged vessels, and lo, the containers are piling up on  the docks--

     And piling up and piling up.  No phones, no fuel, torn-up roads and running out of places to set cargo containers down, open 'em up and get out the helpful items inside: how's any of that going to move to where it is needed without communications or haulage?

     Mass communications are down to a handful of surviving radio stations* and unless commercial power is restored soon, they're going to start going dark as they run out of fuel for their generators.  Point-to-point comms is limited to radio -- public safety, amateur radio, CB and FRS -- and it., too, is only as good as its power source.

     This is going to be a slow-motion humanitarian disaster.  People are going to die.  There's already a lot of finger-pointing, doom-saying and feckless optimism, depending on the source, but none of it means a damn.  The rural poor are best off in this kind of situation: if you already lived in a shack and got your water from an open well or hand pump, you're unlikely to be much worse off.  Poor as the territory is, most people aren't at that point, don't know anyone at that point and may not have access to clean water or possess the skill set to get by for long without access to a level of civilization you might think pretty meager -- but which is nonetheless essential.  Refrigeration alone changes the patterns of people's lives and vanishes as soon as the power goes away.

     There will be a lot of posturing and shouting but won't mean much.  Even "sending in troops" (what troops, from where?  The 2075th Airborne Roadbuilders, the Marine Lineman/Generator Corps and the USAF Parachutable Cellular Tower Bombers have been just sitting around buffing their nails? Seriously, the part of the .mil devoted to rebuilding stuff is already busy; I'm sure they'll lend a hand but it's going to take a lot of hands, in a place that's having a tough time feeding the people who are already there) won't make a big difference, quickly.

     Puerto Rico will be a long time recovering.  No amount of speeches in D.C. will fix it and stacks of dollars are of slightly less immediate use than those stacked-up cargo containers on the docks.   There are going to be locals working for three hots and a cot for themselves and the kids for quite awhile before things begin to look as if they might be on the way back to something approaching the previous level of normal life there.
* Inshore AM stations with relatively short or strong towers appear to have survived best; this should not be surprising and it's actually helpful.  In terms of sheer coverage, old low-fi AM gives the most coverage per Watt: that means for a given amount of fuel, you can run the AM station longer than an FM with the same coverage.  But the remaining stations are not only low on gas, they're short on people -- and the people are, like everyone else there, short on food and water.  The clock is ticking and prioritization of resource allocation has to start at a very basic level: pretty much every assumption you might make runs up against needing to fix the stuff to fix the stuff to fix the stuff to get things to the people who need them.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

FEMA has actually been getting a lot right lately, not that folks like the commies^H^H^H^H^H^Hstaff at The Nation have noticed or care.

And if the Navy hadn't been pulled out of Vieques in 2003, they might have been right there on station rather than having to deploy ships from afar to help. Blame Bill Clinton and GW Bush for that.

In fairness, the Army Corps of Engineers could probably do a lot of good in PR right now. Start at the docks in San Juan and start clearing and rebuilding major roads out to the interior, even if they're just temporary repairs till something better can be put in. It's supposed to be what they do, right? Good training.

WOZ said...


Monday, September 25, 2017

Dear ARRL Member:

There are few times when I have needed to reach out directly to you for your help. This is one of those times.

The American Red Cross (ARC) has asked ARRL for assistance with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. In the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and ARC, this is the first time ARC has made a request for assistance on this scale. Hurricane Maria has devastated the island’s communications infrastructure. Without electricity and telephone, and with most of the cell sites out of service, millions of people are cut off from communicating. Shelters are unable to reach local emergency services and people cannot check on the welfare of their loved ones. The situation is dire.

How can you help?

1) Volunteer. ARC needs up to 50 radio amateurs who can help record, enter, and submit disaster-survivor information into the ARC Safe and Well system. There are very specific requirements and qualifications needed for this deployment; for instance, familiarity with Winlink, an Amateur Radio license of General class or higher, and previous experience in disaster response. Deployment will be for up to 3 weeks (at ARC expense). If you would like to be considered for deployment, please complete the following online ARRL form, which asks for your qualifications and skills: Volunteer Deployment Form.
Volunteer Form for Deployment Consideration
The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for amateur radio, connecting hams around the U.S. with news, information and resources.

Old NFO said...

Two points, if I may, all the 'commentators' are going out of their way to push the blame on the administration, finding the biggest sob stories they can, and not bothering to look at how badly the island's government has managed the place. 10000 troops are going in, in batches, and ACOE has been given tasking to mobilize and do what they can to restore power, and get roads 'usable'. You are exactly right, there are well over 10,000 containers currently sitting at the port, but no trucks and no roads to move them on, much less know where they need to go. USNS COMFORT is on her way, but at a max of 12kts, it's going to take a few days for her to get there, but at least she has refrigeration for critical meds, like insulin and others needed, plus 6 operating bays and roughly 600 beds.

The Old Man said...

Amateurs study tactics,professionals study logistics. Due to the last 2-5 administrations (pick-a-number) the military logistic capability has been roached out.
The ICS system is well formed, but y'all get what you fund or pay for. Deal with it.

Antibubba said...

What about air drops of supplies, along with the appropriate troops to set up and distribute?

c-90 said...

Uh, what troops? The engineers and other support troops are fully engaged in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Trump would have to activate ALL NG combat support units, and how to get them there, cause the infrasctructure is screwed up. Engineering support above Division is all contractor. (mostly)