AMR sets up Emergency Response Fund
First donations announced
The destructive windstorm of June 29 and the widespread power outage that followed created calamity in the tri-county area. The loss of power, telephone and Internet service impacted water, food and fuel supplies and greatly hindered commerce. Hard work by dedicated emergency response personnel, law enforcement and volunteers alleviated the crisis.
Allegheny Mountain Radio played a part in the emergency response. The network suspended normal operations and dedicated airtime to broadcast emergency information, including the location of supply points and the status of power restoration.
The network has created a fund to improve its emergency communications abilities. Hillsboro area resident Beth Little visited network headquarters in Dunmore on Monday to present a donation to AMR board member Rachel Tompkins.
“I just donated a check for $5,000 to the emergency response fund – to the radio station – so that when we have emergencies, like the recent windstorm-derecho, where the power’s out and the phones are out - that the radio station has the equipment to still communicate between radio stations,” Little said.
Tompkins said AMR has a wish list for emergency operation upgrades.
“The board passed a resolution at our last meeting, creating an emergency response fund,” she said. “Basically to generate support for a list of items that we have that are the top priorities that came out of the conversations after the derecho. So, any donations to the station, that are marked for the Emergency Response Fund, will go just for that purpose. Our Chief Engineer Chuck Niday has developed a priority list of the equipment we need to get better prepared for the next emergency – generators, alternate means of getting the signal to our transmitters, and the like. The total cost will be $50,000, so Beth’s contribution gets us 10 percent of the way to our goal.”
Little said the radio network’s importance was evident.
“I live in the Hillsboro area and I’m getting up in years,” she said. “I’m still mobile, so I didn’t really have any problems, but it was quite evident to me that the radio was the only means of communication to find out where there was gas, where there was water, where there was ice, where there were various services. You know, if people drove into town to get gas and there wasn’t gas, they’d use up all their gas and then they’d really be stuck. People really were listening. Everybody was listening to the radio station - that was it.”
Little recommended having a battery-operated radio and a good supply of batteries.
“I think it was about the second or third day that I got out to Marlinton and I went and all the D and double-A batteries were gone,” she said. “Fortunately, I had a radio that takes C batteries and there were still some left. So, as long as you keep batteries. And then there’s those hand-crank radios – that you can charge up by cranking them – I’ve even heard some talk about making those available to people. Because, then, you’ve got radio reception – no matter what – and that’s what’s important.”
Tompkins talked about community service groups that have made donations to the new Fund.
“We also have a contribution from the Frost Fire Department, which was very active during the derecho, but they were really appreciative of what the radio station did about getting the word out about what was available there,” she said. “So, they put $500 up for the kind of equipment we need to make certain that we’re able to do the kinds of things that the radio station wants to do, when you have those kinds of disasters. The Pocahontas County Drama Workshop donated $100.”
“And then the WVLS Community Radio Steering Committee - the citizens’ group that connected with the station in Monterey - put up $1,000 to go toward a generator at WVLS. And we know we need two generators and uninterrupted power supplies - UPS sources - at both the Monterey studio and at Bath - a bigger generator capacity there.”
Tompkins expressed gratitude for Little’s donation.
“Well, first of all, we’re thrilled with this kind of donation,” she said. “It isn’t often that the radio station gets that kind of very generous contribution. So, we’re very thankful to Beth for doing that.”