Amateur radio operators help others weather the storm - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Amateur radio operators help others weather the storm

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BELVIDERE (WREX) -

People along the east coast prepare for the affects of Hurricane Sandy. Wind, snow, and rain could all be part of the picture. But even folks not affected by the storm's big waves, hundreds of miles away, stand by with radio waves, to help.

Jim Hollich retired recently. Now that he has more time to tinker, he spends a lot of it in his basement, not watching sports or working on his car, but listening and communicating on his radio.

"It's a way of developing new friendships," Jim Hollich says. It's a method of communication and depending on propagation, you could speak to anyone in the world."

He's part of the Big Thunder Amateur Radio Club, a group of guys who make it a hobby to offer two-way communication to people at other amateur radio stations. In emergencies, they offer their ears to people who might need help.

"If somebody in a hurricane-struck area was only able to reach my station, what they would ask me to do is they would ask me to relay a message to another station that they weren't able to get to," Hollich says.

Since they have strict limitations from the FCC, amateurs only communicate one station to another.

"Because of this network, this again allows tens of thousands of stations to be listening," Hollich says. "Somebody's gonna hear. May not be me. May not be the guy you know across town. May not even be anyone in the state. But somebody is listening."

Hollich says they also have people called storm trackers, not storm chasers, who actually stand in the storm, to relay information.

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