A Report on ham radio activities during the Chennai floods

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When the torrential rain came for several days, numerous areas were flooded. This was compounded by the release of water from a natural reservoir that was overflowing and in danger of the banks failing. Some area experienced over 3 to 4 meters of water, which meant that all ground floor houses were totally inundated and owners lost everything. Loss of life reported initially is over 300 but several more would have also succumbed.

Most hams were also isolated in their homes as normal passenger cars could not negotiate the high waters. Power supply was also cut off in most areas as the distribution systems were under water.Gradually all cellphones stopped working and land lines became erratic. Hand held transceiver batteries also died down.Most filling stations ran dry, internet failed and even banks were unable to process transactions as they could not access their data bases and so no one could draw any funds. Credit card and ATM transactions were not possible

On 4th December water levels started to come down and power was restored in some areas, with most of the city still having no power.Once it became possible to move, hams started going out assisting with delivery of food and water to stranded individuals and assisting with rescue from tall buildings where people were trapped.The army, navy, home guards and the national disaster action forces have all been deployed

The number of hams increased substantially, a control room was established to coordinate efforts and more volunteer organizations have swung into action to provide food and water. Many mobile stations became active to become active in locations not possible earlier. Fortunately two local VHF repeaters are working and so VHF communications was effective.

A watch was also being maintained on 7.070 in case of messages from distant locations, but that was not being utilized very much and so it was discontinued. VU2JAU OM Jayu has been approached by several hams worldwide as to where relief material could be sent and an NGO in Chennai has been identified to take care of this and provide efficient distribution. We established a station at their location also to assist

On 7th December 2015 the EmComm net slowly reduced the number of hams on the ground and maintained a close watch on what was urgently needed.Some volunteers continued with their work of distributing food, water and medical supplies. Volunteer medical teams accompanied some teams to distribute medicines and treat whoever required on the spot treatment.

Most of the hospitals in and around the city are on high alert now as after the rescue efforts the fear is of disease as many were exposed to flood waters which were highly polluted. The control stations are active on 7th December also but with reduced volunteers, many of who have had to go back to work after almost a week of doing relief work.

The net was kept going for another two days then wound down as traffic requirements reduced.

The task of rebuilding the devastated city will be herculean and numerous support groups have become active. Especially receiving and dealing with material that is coming in from all over the world.

Many of the hams are continue to be active with support groups providing medical and other form of assistance to affected citizens. The following is a partial list of hams that assisted in some way or other to keep Chennai going. Some who had power acted as net controllers for extended periods. Apart from communications, many risked themselves going to very flooded areas distributing food, medicines and accompanying medical teams. (Apologies if any call-signs are recorded incorrectly or some are missed out)

  1. VU3KNQ  OM VIPIN
  2. VU2SVF OM SUBBU
  3. VU3SMZ OM MUKUND
  4. VU2XSK OM SURESH
  5. VU2XPK OM SINOSH
  6. VU3GSL OM SARAVANAN
  7. VU3VWR OM RAGAV
  8. VU2DH OM DAS
  9. VU2TSF OM PETER
  10. VU2INA OM INARAPPAN
  11. VU2ABS OM ARAVIND
  12. VU2GRR YL RAJI
  13. VU3USI OM CHRISTY
  14. VU2CSM OM SHANMUGHAM
  15. VU2AIR OM VIJI
  16. VU3LTB OM ASHISH
  17. VU2JA OM RAJA
  18. VU2KVB OM SARAVANAN
  19. VU3ISJ OM GUNA
  20. VU2DTD OM MANDAAR
  21. VU3CPE OM VIMAL
  22. VU2DA OM MANO
  23. VU2MTS OM ANANTHA
  24. VU2DJR OM RAVI
  25. VU2DPN OM DEEPAN
  26. VU2GHX OM MADHAVAN
  27. VU2SJD OM SANJAY
  28. VU2SDU OM SHAIK
  29. VU2LSW OM NARAYAN RAO
  30. VU2MPK OM KANAPPAN
  31. VU3ASB OM ASHOK
  32. VU2GPS OM PARTHA
  33. VU2GMN OM GOPAL
  34. VU2VAU OM SRINI

Since the 145.550 (-ve shift) repeater was Echolink enabled, several hams connected from remote stations to pass traffic or enquire on situation. One station from Bengaluru was particularly active enquiring about the weather, situation on running of trains and situation at the airport. They made enquiries almost every 10 minutes!

A very big “THANK YOU” to all who came forward in Chennai’s time of need- a complete cross section of hams participated without any concern as to which organization they were members off. The ham spirit of working without looking for recognition and seeking compensation, was amply demonstrated in Chennai.

…Report by VU2GMN on VUHAMS yahoo groups

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