What happens during a disaster?
Earthquakes, fires, landslides, all make trees fall into powerlines. This takes out the power, the landlines and wired internet (Comcast, ATT). Once the power is gone, within 24 hours the cell phone towers and Comcast will fail. As long as you have a generator, wireless communication will still work. This includes satellite and microwave based internet, as well as radio. Given our mountain setting, few of us have wired internet, so it turns out the internet is almost as useful as radio is. And if your internet works, then you cell phone will work as long as it's in Wifi range.
There are multiple types of radios available for communication:
For our purposes, GMRS radios work well because of the low cost and the lack of need for a Ham license. SSEPO has installed a GMRS repeater, which allows GMRS to actually work across much of the South Skyline Area, and down to La Honda and Middleton Tract. SSEPO has also provided grants to allow many of the neighborhoods to purchase GMRS radios for those who want to participate in radio communications. At the same time, Ham radio is very useful for longer range communication, especially given our large and often challenging terrain.
When there is a large scale event, the fire department will activate a Department Operation Center (DOC) at the fire stations for communications. The DOCs are staffed with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) HAM operators and CERTs. Communications from the neighborhoods requesting assistance will come to the DOC via GMRS radio or HAM radio. The ARES operator will then relay this information to the Emergency Operation Center (EOC). This will allow GMRS and HAM traffic to be brought to emergency services outside of calling 911.
In practice during an emergency:
Get Prepared Now
Staying Informed During a Disaster
Get Help During a Disaster
Stay Informed and Communicate