Letters to the editors

Commerce's helping hand

In FCW's Sept. 12 issue, the story "Disasters were not an e-gov priority" is misleading and implied that the Commerce Department opposes the Disaster Management initiative.

In fact, I and other Commerce managers have consistently been supportive of the Disaster Management initiative.

We have worked constructively with Disaster Management initiative leaders during the past three years to help the project become a one-stop source for all federal disaster management-related information and services.

The project also provides an interoperable disaster management tool to assist first responders in preparing for and responding to disasters.

Commerce has closely coordinated the development of its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service All Hazards Weather Radio system with the Disaster Management initiative. The Disaster Management Web site (www.disaster help.gov) provides a way for emergency managers to initiate warnings that can be quickly distributed nationwide via NOAA's All Hazards Weather Radio.

Commerce also provides a special weather feed that provides weather warnings and alerts from the DisasterHelp home page.

We will continue to support this initiative, which is a good example of how agencies can work together to use the latest technology in a coordinated way to support our citizens.

Tom Pyke
Chief Information Officer
Commerce Department

When nothing else works

In FCW's Sept. 5 issue, the story "Feds rush mobile communications to aid relief efforts" was about efforts to jump-start communications along the Gulf Coast.

But the story left out a major operation — thousands of Hamm radio operators have been and still are providing all kinds of communications in that area and beyond. They help pass messages and direct rescues on VHF, UHF and HF radio bands.

The Salvation Army network on the 14 MHz band has been operating nearly around the clock. In one case, I received a request to contact a family who was able to call 911 and request help, but the 911 they contacted was out of the area. I called the family, recorded the necessary information then contacted the highway patrol to pass on the information. They sent an officer to help. That kind of stuff is happening every day.

Look in to it and you will discover why our shirts say, "When nothing else works!"

Darwin "Dar" Piatt
Amateur Radio Emergency Services

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