When the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck at 0031L, local hams became active on the 147.30/90 repeater located atop Site Summit. As many of you know, this repeater covers a wide area ranging from the Anchorage bowl, much of the Mat-Su Valley, and into the Nikiski area on the Kenai Peninsula. KL2GY, ARES Public Information Officer (PIO), located in Anchorage, assumed net control at the onset.
I was in contact with Net Control while en route to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at the National Guard Armory on JBER. I arrived at the SEOC and was on the air at 0118L. Since I was the only ham radio operator on site, I requested that KL2GY continue as net control. He maintained this role for the duration of the event.
We received direct reports from Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer, Willow, and Nikiski. We received relayed reports through our Nikiski operator (KL7UW) from Kenai and Homer. We received reports from Valdez via amateur radio Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) relayed by KL4RCS in Wasilla. HF propagation was poor and no activity was heard on 3920 kHz. A total of 14 stations were involved in the net.
Message traffic involving community response status was all handled tactically. Formal message traffic was limited to four National Traffic System (NTS) messages sent to the Alaska ARES Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), AD4BL, in North Pole to keep her informed of net status. These Winlink messages were initiated from the State EOC via VHF 1200 baud packet to the EARS VHF RMS gateway located at the EARS club station on Elmendorf AFB.
Following is a list of participating stations:
KL7EOC – SEOC (manned by KL5T)
KL2GY – Net Control – Anchorage
KL5T – Eagle River, mobile, while deploying to SEOC
KL4RCS – Wasilla
KL7WS – Anchorage
KL7ES – Willow
KL7UW – Nikiski (relayed traffic to/from Homer and Kenai)
KL2T – Homer (relayed by KL7UW in Nikiski)
KL7FZ – Wasilla
KD6YKS – Palmer (John Ramsey)
KL7AED – Anchorage
KL7TS – Anchorage
KL1IO – Valdez (relayed in from KL4RCS over IRLP)
KL2DR – Kenai (relayed by KL7UW in Nikiski)
The net was secured at 0355L after the Tsunami Warning was lifted and downgraded to an Alert.
The State EOC staff were very thankful for our presence. Some tactical traffic originating from ham communications proved useful and timely. While primary commercial and state communications channels were not affected by this event, it was good to see that we were able to fire up our ARES net, get organized, maintain net discipline, and participate in a professional manner.
For more information about the earthquake, check out the Alaska Earthquake Warning Center at: https://earthquake.alaska.edu/breaking-magnitude-79-gulf-alaska.
Many thanks to all stations who participated, and special thanks to Pete Summers, KL2GY, for taking the lead as net control; he did a great job!
Kent Petty, KL5T
Anchorage District Emergency Coordinator (DEC)
Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES)