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Mobile HAM radio operators help Florida with communications after Hurricane Michael

(IMG: WPMI) Mobile HAM radio operators help Florida with communications after Hurricane Michael

A group of Gulf Coast community members is gearing up to drop everything and assist in the aftermath of Michael.

NBC 15's Nicole Fierro has the latest details about local "ham radio" operators ready to do their part in saving lives along the Florida panhandle.

Right now, cell phones are basically worthless in the communities devastated by Michael. However, "go boxes" can connect amateur radio communicators across the world using antennas and frequencies even the Florida's most powerful hurricane can't destroy.

"We have high frequency which allows us to talk like a base station from our vehicles," Deep South Amateur radio Club President Mike Hartman said, adding "If we have a simple battery like this we can talk great distances easily,"

Ham radio is a hobby connecting a world-wide community of unsung heroes. Each operator’s united through the same calling -- a passion to serve and protect using communication in the most difficult of circumstances.

"The most important thing, like anything else, is just wanting to do it," Hartman said, adding "We love it."

Hartman received a message this morning from an amateur radio operator in the path of Michael's devastation.

"It says 'just a heads up when you are going to Panama City: all 08 emergency communications have failed, two meter offline, tv towers failed, cell coverage is 0 percent with an exception of ATT at 5 percent, power is battery, generator or solar only,'" Hartman said, adding "So this shows you what kind of communications they have."

The need for assistance with antennas and frequency echoed loud and clear to our local operators. Several club members are gearing up to head to Panama City Beach first thing Friday morning.

"If you need an ambulance, if you need a firetruck, if you need anything there communication is pretty much nil, so we can provide this," Hartman said.

Deep South Amateur Radio Club has about 250 members on their email list. Members meet weekly to practice the calls and codes so they are ready for disasters like Michael.

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