With hurricane Dolly churning along the coast and just now going ashore (07-23-08, 17:01UTC), I'm monitoring the local Emergency Coordinator radio frequency. The local EOC has a complete Amateur Radio station and it's being manned by volunteer Hams. The Hams activated the station early this morning and asked for other Hams to "sign in." At this time we are all on stand-by waiting word of how much involvement the San Antonio/Bexar Co. area will have. It depends on how much damage and recovery is needed as the hurricane goes further in land and spends it's self over the semi-desert of West Texas and Mexico. Since the hurricane never got to a Cat-3, our services may not be needed.
The services Hams provide in these situations is having Hams located at evacuation centers and hospitals to help pass information in and out of the EOC, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other groups supporting evacuees. Hams also stand-by at other key facilities like police and sheriffs' departments to assist if those departments' communications fail. That doesn't happen often, but Katrina showed everyone just how fragile emergency responders systems can be.
I've been monitoring all morning - from about 11:30UTC - and will continue until bed time this evening. Tomorrow may bring rain and thunder storms and maybe some evacuees from the Rio Grande Valley. Many folks down there live in sub-standard housing and it doesn't take much to put them on the street. If there is a lot of damage to the Valley, the local agencies there may have folks transported to us. So, I'll be listening closely for the next couple of day. If the call up comes, I'll go and do whatever is needed in the Ham-ish way.