MNWashCoARES ID cards expire for all members on March 15, 2012. You must get them renewed at an ARES meeting, or at a SARA or SEMARC meeting. Those who have pictures on file will just have to sign the pre-printed card and have it given to them once it is laminated at the meeting. Those without pictures on file will have to have a picture taken at the meeting and have the laminated card mailed to them. So far, we have 15 ARES members who have renewed their cards. Please attend one of these meetings and get your card renewed. Thanks for your support of ARES.
The regular first quarter meeting of Washington County ARES was held on Tuesday, March 6th, at 6:30 - 8 PM at Woodwinds Hospital, Administrative Conference Room. Agenda items included renewal of ID cards, Healtheast credentialing, annual schedule, hospital evacuation drills, and other items of concern. Healtheast Security Coordinator Katherine Grimm, also a MNWashCoARES member, presented some of the challenges and ham radio efforts used at Joplin, Missouri, during their 2011 F5 tornado. Eleven members were in attendance.
Minnesota Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (MNVOAD) has scheduled its regular annual conference on March 24 from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Hennepin Vo Tech in Eden Prairie. Topics will include Ham Radio at the 2011 Pagami Fire in NE MN as well as other topics of interest. Fee is $20. To register go to http://www.mnvoad.org and complete the Survey monkey registration; no walk-in registrations.
A regular digital net is held each Wednesday after the SEMARC Activity Net. It starts at approximately 8:35 PM. Voice check-ins are taken on the 146.985 repeater (no PL Tone). Once participants are identified, digital messages are sent and received using the FL Digi software on 146.550 FM Simplex. You can download the FL Digi softwarefrom the web site http://www.w1hkj.com/download/html . It is suggested that you download the software programs for FL Digi and FL Message to begin with.
Our MNWASHCOARES Net this evening focused on the topic: The Year In Review. The Washington County ARES group is at 52 members. There were 72 nets conducted on 2 meters and that will rise to 74 nets by the end of the year. Members participated in 3 quarterly meetings at served agencies; spring flooding set-up and briefing at Lake St.
The SET Exercise for 2011 was scheduled and held on Saturday, October 1, 2011. The exercise was in the Recon Rally format to check coverage across the length of Washington County and was designed and headed by Assistant Emergency Coordinator (AEC) Mike (KF6WQH). Twelve MNWashCoARES members participated in the exercise including 2m voice communications with the (simulated) EOC, signal reports, detailed forms of GPS locations and maps, and logs. Traffic was also received from and passed to another county EOC as part of the exercise. The exercise concluded with a debrief by participants.
August 6th saw nine of our members get together to review each other's Go Kits and have a lunch from the grill. The problem we all face, according to attendees, is the same: what to bring and how to organize the radio, power source, and antenna. But, the solutions were as varied as the members. We observed a station in a comm van, a station in a trailer (and one member made a contact with the Red Wing Special Event Station), equipment in a back pack, in a rolling back pack, in a tote with organizational materials, and in a pelican case. Antennas were also varied.
The flood threat on the St. Croix River has declined significantly in the past days. The station has been dismantled and the admin and record keeping items have been packed and stored. Our group had a triple win on this flood: (1) planning and preparation for providing communications services on a real event, and (2) no damage to the city, and (3) we did not have to stand any 12 hour watches. I want to thank every ARES member for their willingness to serve and support our served agency: Lake St. Croix Beach.
The St. Croix River has declined below flood stage this Monday morning to 685.9 feet at 6 am. The ham radios and antennas have been pulled and repacked for future use. Most sand bags stockpiled at the dike area are being dismantled and emptied. Thanks to ARES hams who signed up for communications duties and for all your preparation, attention, and willingness to serve!!
The St. Croix River reached a crest of 687.28 on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, and is now on the way down. Although originally projected to reach a second crest height of 687.8 on April 13-14 (and one forecast for Saturday, April 16), the crest was below that; no additional snow or any rain event since the first crest contributed to a lower crest. We will now continue to watch the river in hopes of a continuing decline to normal levels. The city has started internal pumping of low spots to clear roads of water; no communications support is needed.