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Old 09-21-2018, 8:59 PM
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rescue161 rescue161 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Hubert, NC
Posts: 2,746
Default NOAA Transmitter Failure During Hurricane Florence

Well, we made it through the storm. My wife and I remained in our house during the event and although I've been through many hurricanes and typhoons, this one stands out as one of the worst. Our house is 8 air-miles to the beach and sits in Onslow County, NC. We had a generator with 35 gallons of fuel, which was enough to power a small TV, the refrigerator, a window unit air conditioner and a few low-wattage lights for almost 4 days. We had enough water for 4 days and a pool in the back with 10800 gallons of water if we needed to flush the toilets, etc. I have a Midland WR-120EZ weather radio that always works whenever the SAME alerts go out. That weather radio did not function during the worst of the worst of Hurricane Florence. Below are the details of the events leading up to my finding out about the failure.

13 Sep - Wind was picking up throughout the day. Late in the afternoon, my neighbor's trees began to lose large branches of about 8 inches in diameter; some being 20 feet in length. We remained in the house, but moved to the center of the house away from the outer walls due to the potential of falling trees. At 2010, the power went out. I started the generator and we ran the small TV on an antenna and the fridge. Normal local news TV OTA channels are 7, 9 & 12. Channel 12 studio flooded and they went off the air and remained off-air until after the storm several days later. We did not sleep all night as the storm increased in intensity throughout the night and into the next day. Our weather radio alerted several times early in the day, as did our cell phones. My Wife asked if the weather radio would alert with the power off and I assured her that it had backup batteries and would function for 3 days without power. I moved the radio to the room where we were so we could hear it if it alerted as the wind and rain was very loud in the house. While I was moving the radio, I hit the monitor bar and noted the squelch hash instead of the normal NOAA digital voice. I passed my concerns to the ARES Coordinator and he then notified the NWS that their Newport transmitter was down. One of my neighbors, two houses away, lost the entire roof of their two-story home.

14 Sep - Wind was very strong all day. We could no longer pick up Channel 9, so channel 7 was our only means of news. They were reporting tornado warnings just North of us throughout the day. We have a brick house and it sounded like our roof was being blown off, but what really scared me was the floor was shaking in the house. Channel 7 began to go in and out, but the tornado warnings were getting closer to our location. I then got very worried as we were no longer picking up channel 7. I tried to access the internet on my phone, but there was no signal. That would have been a great time to have the NOAA radio to let us know if tornados were getting close, but it was still out.

15 Sep - Still very windy, rainy and no power, no cell, no internet and no NOAA broadcasts. Lots of damage on roof. A lot of missing shingles and small leaks.

16 Sep - Ran out of fuel for the generator. Gas was scarce as most stations did not have power and ones that did have generator power ran out of gas quickly. Lines were very long and frustrations were growing fo everyone. Found gas and restarted the generator. NOAA still not working. No power, no internet, no cell coverage. No tarps available anywhere that was open.

17 Sep - Got more gas. Can't find tarps anywhere. No power, no NOAA, no cell, no internet.

19 Sep - Finally got power, but cell service, internet and NOAA still down.

21 Sep - Finally got cell service. Cable TV and internet still down. The NOAA transmitter is still not functioning.

I realize that there are things that happen, but I work in the communications industry and being without critical infrastructure is not the right answer. You always have a backup to the backup. I have no idea what happened to their transmitter, but I find it unacceptable to leave Eastern North Carolina without some means of notification of deadly weather. As of right now, the NOAA radio is still not picking up the Newport transmitter.
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