Amateur radio responds to flooding in Western Europe




International Amateur Radio Union (IARURegion 1 Emergency Communications Coordinator Greg Mossop, G0DUB, reported over the weekend that amateur radio volunteers responded to widespread and catastrophic flooding in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The floods, resulting from unprecedented heavy rainfall, killed more than 120 people. Hundreds more are still missing.

The Dutch Amateur Radio Emergency Service (DARES) had been on standby since July 14, when the first reports of flooding arrived. A first attempt to establish a point-to-point connection between the provincial capital of Maastricht and the north of the province of Limburg was interrupted due to heavy traffic, with residents evacuating low areas. DARES volunteers were in contact with members of the Belgian Emergency Amateur Radio Service (B ‑ EARS) to coordinate their efforts.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated and emergency groups across the region have reported that their governments are sending additional assistance and supplies to the most damaged areas. The flood waters continued to move north, prompting further evacuations, and amateur radio emergency groups focused on requests for assistance. B ‑ EARS requested to provide a back-up VHF link between the emergency call center in Brussels and the province of Hainaut until Friday, while DARES had four active stations in Limburg ready to intervene in the event of need.

The highest death toll and damage occurred in Germany, where more than 1,000 residents remain missing. The loss of mobile telecommunications networks has slowed efforts to locate people, while many more are without electricity or homes. The emergency communication unit of the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) dealt with requests for support from radio amateurs in the worst affected areas, but members of the region were also victims of flooding, losing equipment or their homes.

Amateur radio clubs have been in contact with the relevant authorities, but there is currently no need for operational support from radio amateurs, ”DARC reported. A mutual aid agreement exists between amateur radio organizations in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Mossop said emergency communication groups in affected and surrounding areas are ready to respond to requests and have coordinated their efforts as needed.

“This emergency will last for some time as infrastructure is repaired and the threat of damaged dams and additional rainfall is reduced,” Mossop said. – Thanks to IARU, DARC

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