SATERN also on the air
The American Radio Relay League is not the only Amateur Radio organization
activated in Mitch's wake. Hams with the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio
Network are on the air and assisting in relief efforts almost from the minute the storm made
landfall in Central America. Salvation Army hams have been operating a health and
welfare service that is providing information to families regarding their missing loved
ones. It began operation on October 30th and is still on the air.
The SATERN network as it is known, is a group of amateur radio operators
relaying information between Central and North America. Their primary tasks also
include transmission of valuable logistical data regarding decimated infrastructure and
The Salvation Army has also deployed a Costa Rica based disaster
response team of five
officers and medical personnel to Nicaragua on Thursday. They are working with the
Nicaraguan government to provide emergency needs of food, clean water and shelter to
victims of hurricane Mitch.
SATERN Proves Value of Ham Radio in Disasters
CHICAGO, Nov 20, 1998 -- After 19 days in emergency mode, SATERN
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network -- discontinued its daylong operation
on 14.265 MHz on November 16. The net had operated the all-day sessions since late
October to support the Hurricane Mitch flood relief effort in Central America.
SATERN Director and Salvation Army Major Pat McPherson, WW9E, says
the net has gone
back to its once-daily nets (1500 UTC weekdays; 1530 UTC Saturdays) on the same
frequency. "Any traffic from the affected area will be accepted then," he said today. "If the
need presents itself, we will go back to the emergency format of the daylong net."
Many stations in the US have been participating in the net to relay
health and welfare traffic
to and from relatives, to aid in assessing damage and the emergency needs of victims, and to
assist other relief agencies in the region. Ham radio continues to be one of the primary
means of communication in Honduras.
McPherson said SATERN handled more than 500 pieces of health-and-welfare
the days immediately following the disaster activation, plus an untold amount of
emergency, logistical and strategic traffic.
"The net was able to provide the first indication to the outside
world regarding the extent
of the catastrophe," he said. "Consequently, the value of Amateur Radio's use during
disasters has again been demonstrated." McPherson also said interfacing with the ARRL
and with ARES has proved "integral to effective response."
The FCC had accommodated the SATERN operation by declaring a communications
emergency on 14.265 MHz. The emergency declaration was rescinded November 17 after
the net returned to its regular schedule.
SATERN continues to accept health and welfare inquiries via its Web
http://www.angelfire.com/il/ satern411/satframe.html. The Salvation Army is calling
Mitch "the worst Atlantic hurricane in two centuries." The death toll has risen above
10,000 people. Damage to the region has been estimated at $4 billion.
Letter from SATERN member Herman Cueva HR1HCP
SALVATION ARMY TEAM
HR1HCP Tegucigalpa, Honduras
January 31, 1999
Patrick E. McPherson WW9E
Satern Emergency Systems
I hope you and your family are fine. It was nice talking to the members
of Satern that
check today on the net. This is the briefing you ask me about how things are going in
Honduras since the Hurricane Mitch. What I am about to tell you is based on my personal
experience, as an Architect supervisor of the construction of a small Bank agency in
Choluteca (South of Honduras), another in La Ceiba, in San Pedro Sula (north) and to
my frequent trips to my farm in Copan (west).
The road between Tegucigalpa and Choluteca is very damaged in many
sections of it. The
Choluteca River goes parallel to the two line narrow line road and in many places the river
washed off the construction, now the contractor companies have done provisional passages.
In the same route close to Tegucigalpa, many parts were covered with mud or felt down the
In the city of Choluteca the damage is intense, the Choluteca River
broke the new bridge
recently built by the Government of Japan. It was very large and only the central section
remains. In the city the water came into three or four blocks of old houses, mainly the
historical part and washed away many of them and left useless the others.
The economy of that part of the country is very affected, since the
land for the fruit
plantations are damaged and big work has to be done to restore it. Many companies have
declared bankruptcy and as a banker friend told me, many are broke and still donít know it.
In the north of the country, the most damaged sector that is in big
problem is the banana
companies, american and honduran. The roads are interrupted in many places and the
worse part at the present moment is for La Ceiba, since the rains are very strong and the
passage by the Rio Bonito and Rio Perla take a lot of time and effort to do so.
The road between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, that is the one
with more traffic is
broken in many places but passages have been built. The economy along the road seems
Here in Tegucigalpa the people seems to be accustomed to the traffic
congestion and to the
shortage of fresh food. The city is spoiled by the lack of bridges between Tegucigalpa and
Comayagüela. A Bradley bridge is being built right now and three more will be pending.
The post Mitch trauma is evident in the population, a look of sorrow and sadness on the
faces is evident. Families that lost their houses, so many, are affected not only them but
theirs relatives and friends. Hijacking and robbery are daily here. The police is unable to protect all the community .
The road between San Pedro Sula and Copan is damaged in various places
close to the
Mayan ruins, but normal tourist activities are initialing.
We read in the newspaper about the International help on future projects
and in bridges
building, but the site remains the same, destruction every way you look, specially in
The radio amateur activities have raced since the hurricane, do to
the donation of various
organizations that I am not inform off, but I know that many repeaters have being
reinstalled for phone and packet by Radio Club Tegucigalpa. I personally have installed a
TNC vhf and hf in Tegucigalpa and another in Copan, to be able to connect via digital-radio
in case of emergency, right now I am learning to operate it.
Pat please forgive my errors on grammar and spelling , but it is
rare for me to write in