Amateur radio operators connect Puerto Rico to outside world - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Amateur radio operators connect Puerto Rico to outside world

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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Through his Ham radio in his home in Kapolei, Darren Holbrook helped a Maui family get a message to relatives in Puerto Rico.

"I put them in contact with a club in Florida who were sending radio telegrams to Puerto Rico. The next day their family members got in contact with them and told them everything is okay," he said.

With no electricity and spotty cell service, people in Puerto Rico can't communicate with the outside world to let loved ones know of their situation.

But Ham radios can work anywhere. 

"I can hook the radio up to a car battery, to a solar panel. I can throw a wire up in a tree and I can communicate long distances," Holbrook said.

The Red Cross asked for 50 Ham radio volunteers to go to Puerto Rico and fan out across the island.

"We got over 400 volunteers in the first 24 hours. We put the call out Sunday night and were swamped Monday evening," said Thomas Gallagher, head of the American Radio Relay League,

Those operators will collect short messages from people in Puerto Rico and send them to the Red Cross.

"Name, telephone number, status, which shelter the individual is in, and maybe a very short message like, 'Mom, I'm okay,'" Gallagher said.

Relatives will be able to search for family members and read their posts on the Red Cross Safe and Well site.

"Right now they're sending a lot of names. They've sent like 4,000 in one blast," Holbrook said.

He's on the backup list to go to Puerto Rico. He and his Ham radio are waiting for the call.

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