Hurricane Florence- SCHEART System Information

September 21, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

The water from Florence continues its progress toward the ocean creating new records.  While it is expected the crest will occur over the weekend, ARES/RACES support activity is winding up today.  The SCHEART network returns to normal operational mode at 5:00 PM today.

Thanks to all the amateur operators who supported government and volunteer organizations during this event.

 

September 19, 2018 @8:00 PM

While most of South Carolina has returned to normal, 2 counties in the Pee Dee along with the State Emergency Operations Center remain at OPCON 1.  Rivers are continuing to rise in those counties and emergency services are continuing efforts to rescue people and providing food and shelter.  Commercial communication facilities are returning but there are concerns about additional flooding and keeping engine generators fueled since many roads are impassable.

ARES/RACES continues to support several locations and emergency management officials have requested they continue to provide auxiliary support until later in the week.  However, with the reduced risk and smaller coverage area, parts of the SCHEART network are returning to normal operations.   The DMR network returned to normal mode at 08:00 PM on September 19, 2018.  SEOC will be monitoring SC Call Talk Group for traffic.  Operators are requested to minimize use of the Columbia Downtown repeater to ensure SC Call is free for traffic.

SCHEART Healthcare net will occur on Thursday using the entire network.   After the healthcare net, the Columbia VHF/UHF, Florence VHF,  and Conway VHF/UHF remained linked for supporting any traffic to the flood affected counties.  It is anticipated the system will return to normal operations by the weekend.

September 18, 2018 @ 09:15 AM

ARES/RACES support to agencies is winding down as primary systems return to reliable service.  Today’s operations continue to focus on the Pee Dee region and the following analog repeaters are linked:  Columbia VHF/UHF, Conway VHF/UHF, Florence VHF, and Sumter VHF/UHF.  The DMR system remains in emergency mode and the SCHEART communications trailer is still providing support in Marion.

The SEOC radio room will terminate 24 hour coverage tonight at 0800 PM and resume day shift coverage at 0800 AM Wednesday.  Demobilization plans are being made for later in the week when the SCHEART system will return to normal use.

We’ve been asked by SCEMD officials to express a big thank you to all the operators who supported organizations during this emergency and to all the operators who monitored the SCHEART network and respected requests to minimize use of the linked repeater system for routine conversations.

September 17, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

The State of Emergency for South Carolina is still active.

Tropical Depression Florence is leaving South Carolina today and will provide scatter showers possible heavy at times in the Pee Dee.  Priority operations for today are life safety, flood flight and critical infrastructure support.  Expect additional flooding for the next few days as water flows toward the ocean. Check  https://www.scdot.org/ for the most up to date information on road closures but realize conditions will change during the day with additional flooding expected near rivers and waterways in the Pee Dee.

ARES/RACES operators are still active supporting communication for partner agencies.  The SCHEART analog repeater network is adapting to the changing environment.  Areas in the Pee Dee region are still experiencing issues with normal communication systems.  Effective at 10:20 AM the following repeaters will be linked to support emergency communication: Columbia VHF/UHF, Conway VHF/UHF, Florence VHF, and Sumter VHF/UHF.  All other analog repeaters are returned to normal operation.

The SCHEART DMR will remain in emergency mode operation to support ongoing operations.  The State EOC radio room will continue 24 hour operation. HF monitoring is suspended.  Net updates are scheduled for 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM for regions experiencing flooding until further advised.

 

September 16, 2018 @ 5:30 AM

The 24-hour Operational Response Plan posted September 13 below remains in effect today, September 16th.

Tropical Depression Florence remains in South Carolina providing additional rain and wind.  Most road closures are in the Pee Dee region. However there are some roads closed due to down power lines and trees in the Midlands and the Upstate.  There are around 57,000 customers reporting power loss this morning which is a significant decrease from yesterday.

Operations today will focus on search and rescue and damage assessment.  Most counties remain in higher levels of operational response with 9 still in OPCON 1. Florence has dropped historical levels of rain around NC and SC.  It will continue to add rain today.  The ground is saturated and additional flooding is going to happen over the coming days.

Several ARES and RACES members are actively deployed supporting first responders.  Depending on the levels of flooding additional support may be needed.

ARES/RACES operators should continue to support their local agencies and organizations where needed, monitor the SCHEART network for the latest information, and provide observational reports of structural damage, closed roads, power and communications outages.   Only travel when is safe.  If mobile, remember do not drive through standing or moving water.  Do not go near downed power lines.

The AUXCOMM status line is being updated daily.   803-734-2899

A big thank you goes  out to all the Amateur Radio Operators who volunteered to help multiple organizations respond to the emergency and for supporting the various communications net.   The SCHEART network played an essential role in providing statewide communications for ARES since HF band conditions were very poor.

 

September 14, 2018 @ 6:46 PM

The 24-hour Operational Response Plan posted on September 13 will remain in effect again tomorrow.

Tropical Storm Florence continues its march through South Carolina leaving downed trees, power lines and flooded roads.  Power restoration will be limited while the slow moving hurricane passes the area.  SCEMD requests amateur radio operators to provide reports of significant damage at their location to their county EOC.  If unable to report directly to the county, you may report significant damage to the State EOC.    ARES/RACES members supporting agencies should provide reports on power status, major structural damage, roads damage, significant flooding, communication issues and special needs to the State EOC.  Reports of severe weather should go to the National Weather Service.

AUXCOMM members can obtain additional information on 803-734-2899

September 13, 2018 @ 5:30 AM

24 Hour Operational Response Plan for ARES, RACES and AUXCOMM

Twenty-four coverage at the State EOC radio room begins at 0800 on Thursday September 13, 2018.

At 0900 SCHEART conducts weekly communications check with healthcare facilities.  After the healthcare net, the SCHEART VHF/UHF will remain linked for the duration of the storm.   Periodic nets to brief field staff and/or confirm stations will happen at four-hour intervals.  The first net will be at 10:00AM Thursday.

SCHEART Analog VHF/UHF Scheduled Net Times are:

02:00 AM, 06:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 02:00 PM, 06:00 PM, 10:00 PM

SCHEART DMR system is in emergency mode which restricts PRN talk group to South Carolina and terminates all dynamic talk groups.  ARES and AUXCOMM members are requested to monitor the PRN talk group for coordination information and instructions and keep the analog system open for tactical and emergency traffic.

Statewide Simplex Channel is 146.595 with PL of 156.7 Hz and can be used for relaying traffic to the SEOC.

HF operations will begin at noon on Thursday.  HF is a back-up to the statewide VHF/UHF network. The published frequencies for SC ARES nets are 3.990 or 3.995 +/- for nights and 7.232 +/- days bands permitting.

State EOC will monitor the SCHEART repeater networks, Simplex and HF  frequencies.  Field operators should follow guidance and frequencies listed in the South Carolina ARES and RACES Auxiliary Communication Tactical Communications Guide which is available for download on the http://ares-sc.org/ website.

Tactical Call Signs will be used during this response effort.  Operators are responsible for following FCC regulation on proper station identification.  Stations should call “State EOC” when calling the radio room.   The State EOC will call County EOC’s by the county and healthcare facilities by name.  Stations not associated with with a partner agency will use their normal call sign. All operators are encourage to 1) Keep transmissions short, 2) Pass essential information as clearly as possible, 3) Follow Net Control Station directions  4) When you check into a net indicating you are staffing a partner facility, or offering to assist in the response,  do not leave the frequency without obtaining a release from Net Control Station.  The only except is at an agency location where there’s multiple operators and the frequency is being monitor by another operator if you step away from the radio.

Field operators who observe a potential life-threatening situation, should immediately immediately contact 911. If you are unable to reach 911, use your county tactical frequency (reference ARES/RACES Tactical Guide link above) to contact the county EOC.  If you are unable to make local contact, the emergency may be reported to the State EOC radio room.  Information they will need: Complete and specific information on situation location, name of the person making the request, your call sign, and facts about the emergency condition.  The State EOC radio room will attempt to assist but the process to get back to local emergency management take longer than making local contact.

All Operators are reminded to be polite and respectful as this situation is very stressful. Please be professional as possible. Field Operators do not self deploy and put yourself in harms- way.  ARES/RACES operators should follow direction provide by their field management and local emergency officials.

This plan will adapt as conditions change.  All amateur radio operators are encouraged to monitor the SCHEART network for updated information from the State EOC and listen to their county designated repeater for local information and reports .

September 12, 2018 @ 08:56 AM

At 2:00 PM today, there will be a statewide net from the SEOC with information about the pending storm.  Net Control will seek information from each county on status and which facilities have amateur radio support during and after the storm.

 

September 11, 2018 @ 8:00 PM

The State Emergency Operations Center radio room has suspended coverage until 08:00 AM tomorrow (September 12, 2018).  The SCHEART VHF system will remained linked statewide and is available for  normal use until 08:00 AM tomorrow.  The UHF repeaters are not linked and are available for normal use.  The DMR system has been returned to normal operational mode until 08:00 AM when emergency  mode will be activated.

This same scenario will happen for Wednesday night.

If you are experiencing repeater issues, please submit a support ticket from the drop down menu at the top of the page.   For questions, please use the Contact Us menu.

 

 

September 11, 2018 @ 8:45 AM

The SCHEART DMR repeaters are in Emergency Mode Operation.  Talk groups outside the state are not active and PRN is restricted to South Carolina repeaters.  The analog VHF repeaters are linked statewide.  The analog UHF repeaters will be linked as necessary.

During the emergency, the State Emergency Operations Center Radio Room will modify the SCHEART network configuration as required in support of DHEC, AUXCOMM, and ARES communication needs. This configuration and restrictions will be in place until Florence passes and it is determined that amateur radio support for statewide communications are no longer needed.  We will attempt to return the system back to normal operation as soon as possible.

Please reference posting below for September 10, 2018 @ 6:58 PM for additional information

A big thanks goes out to all the amateur operators who are supporting their hospitals, shelters, county and state government during this emergency.  The entire SCHEART support team appreciates your time and effort.

September 10, 2018 @ 6:58 PM

By request of South Carolina Emergency Management and under the State of Emergency declaration by the Governor,  the SCHEART analog and digital network will begin supporting Hurricane Florence response efforts on Tuesday morning.   By noon many coastal roads will be at capacity.  The SCHEART VHF repeaters will be linked for traffic reports or issues.   The UHF repeaters will not be linked unless there are coverage issues.    The DMR network will also switch to emergency operations mode.

ARES and AUXCOMM leaders are encouraged to use the DMR network for any command level traffic (statewide notification use PRN for local area use Local TG) to free up the analog system for tactical information reports.  Until the emergency has been resolved, the SCHEART network will be used in support of hurricane Florence response.   Amateurs may make short contacts outside of any directed nets however, be ready to release the system for any priority traffic reports that need to go to state agencies or NGO’s.  The State EOC radio room is responsible for SCHEART network configuration during this emergency starting Tuesday morning September 11th .  Special request for use of the network should be addressed to K4EMD over the air or by calling 803-737-8723.

The State EOC radio room staffing times are as follows:

Tuesday 0800 AM until 0800 PM and Wednesday 0800 AM until 0800 PM (day shifts only)

Thursday 0800 AM until support is no longer required (24 hour coverage)

Status updates will be added to this post and AUXCOMM member may use the state phone number for current status.

September 9, 2018 @ 8:34 PM

Preparation for possible landfall of Hurricane Florence has started.   Staffing of the State Emergency Operation Center radio room will start on Tuesday morning in preparation for coastal evacuations.   During the day periodic nets will be conducted for radio checks and to provide information from the State EOC.   Based on SCEMD requests, amateur radio volunteers will assist with communications during and after the storm passes.

ARES and AUXCOMM operators are requested to prepare their families and equipment for the upcoming storm.  Please log into your respective database and ensure all your contact information is current.  Those amateur operations who can assist with the Florence response at your local levels, please contact your local Emergency Coordinator.  For ARES operators who can participate in Strike Teams to assist outside of your local area, please contact Billy Irwin, K9OH through the ARES-SC website.  For registered AUXCOMM members, please contact the SEOC radio room at 803-737-8723 or email to races3@emd.sc.gov with your availability times, dates or travel restrictions.  All amateurs are reminded that frequency information and operational guidance can be found in the South Carolina ARES/RACES Tactical Communications Guide located on the ARES-SC.ORG website.

During the hurricane response, the  SCHEART DMR network will be available for command and control traffic for ARES and AUXCOMM staff.  Notification will be posted on this website once DMR system enters emergency operational mode which restricts talk group traffic outside of the state.

Additional information will be posted on the SCHEART website as updates to this initial post.

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