It was not a surprise storm, it formed early, stayed hurricane typical during its route, and hit the Caribbean and United States with a devastating force. The predictions were pretty simple, follow instructions provided by all the services and do it early.
For amateur radio operators, and particularly the ARES groups, that means get you gear in order and make ready for possible deployment.

The North Fulton ARES is very lucky to have two fellows integrated into the Sandy Spring Fire and Rescue and the Sandy Springs Police Department who practice with teams weekly, and know the key individuals within those organizations. This clearly gives us an advantage communicating with these two groups. These two individuals are Mike Cohen (AD4MC) and Tom Koch (W4UOC), the latter a long time EC for the North Fulton ARES. While Tom operates somewhat in the background, he still remains in touch with the activities of the North Fulton ARES and is a guiding force for the group.

Mike (AD4MC) started his emails early in getting the message out for a possible deployment. His emails included a sign-up sheet for the various locations, those being the Sandy Springs Police Department, Sandy Spring EOC, Fire Station 51, 52 and 54, your home shack and the North American Mission Board. The North Fulton ARES and the North Fulton Amateur Radio League responded with 30 volunteers.

Tom (W4UOC) has some history with the North American Mission Board, providing radio communication during past storms. Through contact with NAMB, it was clear that radio communications would probably be needed, so we proceeded to visit the site to set up their radio equipment. Inspect revealed the HF antenna on top of their 5 story building was in disrepair. We were able to get the antenna repaired and the NAMB was ready, if needed.
On Monday morning it become clear the storm would strike Atlanta with rain and high wind, which would clearly cause power outages. North Fulton ARES, through Mike (AD4MC) was given notice to deploy Monday morning to provide backup communications in case the phone system went down. Through Mike we were kept up to date, hourly, on what needed to be done and where. Our group came through and manned the above listed facilities for most of the 24 hours. While we were never required to actually pass any emergency traffic, we would have been able to do this using both phone and digital.

During the radio activities of the storm, one of our North Fulton ARES members provided some much needed help to the Georgia Emergency Management Administration (GEMA), by picking up as net control when their emergency generator failed. Please join me in thanking N4BTA (Brett Arnold) for doing a great job and being ready and filling in at an important time.

Thanks to all who came through when we were needed. This is what we train and practice to do. Sometimes it is impossible to deploy to a remote position due to family situations, which we all understand. Please remember, if you cannot deploy to a remote site, you might be helpful by being at your home station and monitoring radio traffic. You may be able to relay a message that otherwise could not be passed.

Each of us probably discovered some area that we might be able to improve. Let this event be the motivating force to make that improvement, so that next time we might actually make a difference, and not only improve personally, but enhance the entire organization.

de Grant Register – KK4PCR (Acting Emergency Coordinator)
PS: Many thanks to Mike and Tom for their leadership and guidance.