Ed.: 083117b – Words: 1291 – Audio: N/A
Right off the bat when I see the video of all the flooding devastation and the human suffering in just their being rescued… the first thing that pops into my mind…. Well, consider this.
The state geology people, the federal government.. Corps of Engineers.. all of those agencies… have access and total understanding of flood plains and the effects of flooding in all areas. If the weather people were predicting in advance estimates on total inches of rainfall spanning a number of days, it would seem common sense that the government would use that information to shove into their own computer models on areas expected to be devastated by flood, then worn the public accordingly. In fact, they should be able to predict with some basic accuracy, an hour-by-hour estimate on the rising water effect in various portions of the city and the region given predicted rainfall rates. Why am I hearing the rescued people saying they never got an evac order from the city… or that their neighborhood has never flooded since the 1970’s and they thought they were safe? Something is seriously missing from all this alleged governmental advance disaster planning… and I dare say, like most things in life, it’s all about communication.. or lack thereof. That’s evident with so many survivors are saying that they just didn’t imagine the flood waters would be this bad. Where was government to convey this to them? You’ve got to take charge of your own survivability because absolutely, positively “government” has not done well in communicating to the public prior to the storm.
Here’s just an example of what I am talking about regarding taking personal control…
Simple communication becomes the most important single element in disasters. Search & rescue people need communication to know where to go to look for survivors. Communication is necessary between government and the citizens to pass on critical instructions. Communications is required to set up relief efforts, deploy the National Guard, and restoring utilities. What about the family who decided to stay in their homes through the hurricane? Well, the weather service says you have three days. Run down to Walmart, go to the electronics department.. and pull off the shelf a blister-pack pair of simple walkie talkies (it really matters little if it’s the 5 mile range or 30 mile range; that “range” stuff is all bogus anyway to sell product; a “10 mile” is good enough). “Why walkie talkies?” you ask?
Let me explain the equipment so you can get a grasp on the capabilities because this is nothing like your daddy’s CB radio, toy walkie talkies. Old CB radio was noisy from huge activity, full of AM mode static, and had large antennas because of the 27mhz frequency. Unknown to most people, the FCC set aside a portion of the radio band in the much higher 460mhz band for something called GMRS/FRS (General Mobile Radio Service/Family Radio Service). The idea is to provide the average civilian a range of frequencies for normal day-to-day use, without the need for any cost of licensing or complicated equipment. You open the blister pack, charge up the battery, turn it on, select a clear channel.. and press the button to talk.
Three advantages… physical antenna sizes are very short.. a few inches for walkie talkies (no old fashioned telescoping whips). The transmission mode is much quieter FM; much like regular broadcast FM radio. Also.. the 460mhz band works VERY well in penetrating building structures. This make these radios perfect for search & rescue.. trying to locate people trapped under debris or deep inside buildings, providing the trapped folks and the S&R people have a radio with them.
In an emergency they can serve essentially three purposes.
- The very basic purpose is that it helps to keep family members together. If members have to separate from the group for any reason… you can keep tabs on their location and of course report back information to the rest of the group.
- With minimal planning, even with as little as three days advance notice, a neighborhood plan to help and watch each other can be set up with neighbors with these same radios. From community safety watch to disaster help and recovery, these radios can provide a very inexpensive insurance in raising the odds of survival. Select a little used channel and choose one person to act as a sort of neighborhood dispatcher to filter information and keep everyone from talking at once, keeping the lists of neighbors with at need issues, etc. Set up a neighborhood disaster “club”.
- Here’s the most valuable purpose… first responders and law enforcement are slowly coming around to also having these radios in order to receive distress calls from the public. In the case of Harvey and all those civilian volunteers doing the rescues, these radios are likely playing a big part in trying to coordinate search activities. Here’s a scenario… you are in Houston and you and your family are trapped in the attic, on the roof, or even inside on the second floor… and you’ve already made ten phone calls to 911 asking for rescue help and you’re in line to be rescued. If you had one of these walkie talkies you could very easily connect with one of the many rescue watercraft in the area, if nothing else but to establish at least outside communications on your immediate needs. Remember, in disaster situations many times it’s the squeaky wheel that get the grease. Where 911 has placed you, rightly so, in some line for rescue, you grabbing the attention of a passing boat will likely get help for you and your family much quicker.
Use of radio is just one avenue of disaster prep that is cheap.. maybe $25 or $50 for a pair.. and very effective either used within a family or expanded to neighborhood protection. Always push for having your local law enforcement and first responders equipped with these inexpensive GMRS/FRS walkie talkies. The radios don’t need to be constantly monitored; just take them out in emergencies and disasters so they can track people who need help within range.
(By the way, it’s perfectly permissible to use these radios for recreational use when there’s no emergencies. Some uses that are popular is RV convoys, campground use to keep track of family wandering around.. I’ve used them as a home intercom or coordinating someone on the roof with someone working inside the home. They are hugely popular with the motorcycle crowd, using headsets to talk between themselves while driving. Note: Those mileage range claims are in optimum conditions.. direct line-of-site, mountain top to mountain top.. or over water. You may have a pair of those 30 mile radios but you’d barely get one mile in an urban environment sitting on your recliner.)
In essence my “survivability” approach is along the lines of NOT relying on the government to be there for you while a disaster is unfolding, and most certainly immediately after.. and quite possibly for quite some time. Forget this mentality… “I think I will wait the storm out because it’s never been that bad here before and if things get bad I am sure the government will rescue me and my family… because the government knows what’s going on.” Um… no. In fact, if you want to politicize this at all… in a disaster, think Republican; less government and more self-reliance.
Introduction of my “guide” is below to illustrate the elements of taking charge of your own suvivability
Carry On America