Onslow County ARES

Onslow County ARES Official Page for Onslow County ARES in Onslow County, North Carolina.

Operating as usual


Due to circumstances beyond my control, the Onslow ARES Meeting/Training scheduled for Saturday February 16 2019 will have to be postponed until sometime in the late summer or early fall.

An announcement will be made when a new date is set.

Sorry for any inconvenience...


Onslow County ARES will hold a basic ARES orientation session on Saturday February 16 2019. This session will be held at the Onslow County EOC on Commons Drive from 8am to 4pm with a lunch break around noon.

This session will cover the basics of ARES, general ARES operations and guidelines, a brief overview of the ARES Emergency Plan for the county and other general ARES topics that affect our local area.

During this session, we will not be going over digital communications modes and the like in depth. That will be covered during a separate training session at a later date.

I encourage all Onslow County ARES volunteers to attend this session. Important administrative information will be presented. Hopefully this training will be useful for both new and existing ARES volunteers alike.

Please RSVP directly to me, Jeff Thigpen by Facebook Messenger or by email. I need a head count by February 11 2019.


Just an FYI.....

Just an FYI.....

The Onslow County Board of Commissioners has issued a State of Emergency starting at 2:30 pm today, Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 and expiring on Saturday, October 13th, 2018 at 12:01 am. The Onslow County Multi-purpose Complex, located at 4024 Richlands Highway in Jacksonville, will be stood up as a shelter site opening at 9 am on Thursday. The shelter will include special needs citizens.
County offices will close tomorrow, Thursday, October 11th, 2018 at 12:00 pm. County offices will open on Friday, October 12th, 2018 at 8:00 am.
For residents that have concerns, please call the Citizens Phone Bank (910) 989-5027. The Citizens Phone Bank will be able to offer information regarding County operations and procedures as well as updates on active shelters.


Another ARES activation done. We were activated by Onslow County Emergency Services on Friday September 14 2018 at 1340hrs (during the storm) to provide support communications for two evacuation shelters during Hurricane Florence.

Our activation concluded on Monday September 17 at 1640hrs after being secured by the County. Our total time for activation was 75 hours. The longest duration event I've participated in with ARES in my five years as the EC here in Onslow.

I would like to offer a humongous heartfelt THANK YOU to Pat Boutall (KK4WZR) for volunteering and spending his entire assignment at the Dixon Shelter. This shelter was a challenge as it was a new building and didn't yet have the accommodations for our equipment. Pat also assisted the shelter personnel with their communications equipment and other tasks as he was able.

My assignment time included helping set up, and then monitoring and refueling 3 generators for the two shelters at Commons for a little over 24 hours, along with communicating with the EOC, the Dixon Shelter and other radio operators in our area.

Another humongous heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to Russ Filling (N3TIH) and Jessica Hicksted (KM4DZS) for standing watch on the radio during the storm for as long as they could before they were forced to leave their home due to flooding. Their dedication to ARES was essential during the height of the storm.

Another heartfelt THANK YOU goes to Mike McLain (KK4VBG) for allowing us to use his personally owned emergency communications vehicle, which we affectionately dubbed "ONSCOMM1). Without the support of this vehicle, this activation would've been a lot more difficult to execute. His dedication always goes above and beyond when his assistance is needed.

Another THANK YOU goes out to Michael Pratt (KK4VBH) for looking out for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Onslow County and ARES operators during this event as well as Amateur Radio in general. He is always looking for ways to promote our hobby at almost every opportunity.

Thanks to all the others who helped ARES in many different ways, big and small to make our services possible so that we may assist the citizens and visitors of this great county and country of ours.



Onslow County ARES did activate earlier this evening around 1600hrs. Onslow County decided to open shelters for evacuees of Hurricane Florence due to the sheer number of citizens needing a safe haven from floodwaters, lack of electricity and those that needed rescuing from their homes.

At the time, resources were extremely limited and internet connectivity was scarce so the activation was requested over the radio during one of our many "radio/welfare" checks during the storm.

Currently myself and one other operator are staffing two shelters. I am at Commons Middle School and the other is at Dixon Middle School. We are looking for a third operator that possesses a "go kit" style setup than can go directly to the Swansboro site and operate. There is an outdoor antenna already on site and a generator.

The Dixon site presents a special challenge as this is a new shelter and has no provisions for amateur radio equipment. A cross band type setup in a vehicle would work good here.

For the Commons shelter, a go kit from the EOC can be made available for use.

If anyone is available to operate at any of these 3 shelters, please contact me directly.



We would like to take a moment to remind everyone, even though a communications emergency DOES NOT YET EXIST for our area, hurricane related traffic and traffic from mobiles and portables should be given priority on the repeaters. During normal conversations, please leave longer pauses between your transmissions in case someone has emergency or priority traffic.

Echolink has been set to allow only a selected few stations to connect due to stations outside the area connecting and not having any transmit audio and tying up the repeater. If someone needs access to Echolink (as long as it is still operating, contact Scott (KE4FHH).

Once things get a little more serious and such, the ARES Emergency Net may be activated in either the "STAND BY" or "ACTIVE" mode. Please continue to monitor the local repeaters during this event.

If anyone sees tress down and blocking or partially blocking a road, communicate it with myself or with N3TIH and we will get it communicated directly to the EOC.


Jeff Thigpen
Onslow County ARES
Emergency Coordinator



I apologize for not getting a message out sooner. I spent half of the day at work, came home and ran about a thousand errands, including looking for a few remaining supplies.

As most of you are aware of by now, the County has decided to NOT open any shelters and has ordered a mandatory evacuation for the unincorporated areas of the county.

With the being said, there IS NO ARES ACTIVATION!!! Due to the approach of this strong hurricane, ARES will only activate at the request of one of our served agencies AFTER the storm has passed. PLEASE DO NOT self deploy to the EOC or any other location. If we are needed, we will be called.

If you have not finished preparing for this storm, YOU HAD BEST FINISH YOUR PREPARATIONS NOW!!!

We have one request at the moment from Emergency Management. They would like for me to compile a list of ARES operators that are remaining in the county. They would like for us to gather contact info for after the storm has passed so they might be able to gather damage information and observations.

I have my master list of registered ARES volunteers. If you are staying and are available by radio, telephone, text, fb messenger etc, please reply directly to me and let me know.

I am staying and will be available as long as conditions allow. I will have very limited HF capability until after the winds have died down.

A couple key points to remember in regards to our repeaters:
- The 147.000 repeater does have a battery backup. Currently, once commercial power fails, the repeater switches to battery automatically and goes to low power. This may cause some coverage issues towards the Richlands area and deeper to the Southwest. Once the repeater goes to battery backup, remember that is all we have to run that repeater until a generator is sourced or commercial power returns. You can tell the 00 repeater is on batter power by the small beep in the background while the repeater is transmitting.

- The 145.190 repeater at the hospital is supposed to be on generator backup provided by the hospital. This storm may test the durability of the equipment and the antenna, so we will have to wait and see. As long as this repeater remains on the air, it may be best to utilize this repeater the most if 147.000 loses commercial power.

Please everyone, make sure you are ready for this storm and make sure you and your families are safe.

If there are any questions, please let me know!!

Onslow County ARES
Emergency Coordinator

The projected track and cone of error have shifted slightly north as of the 11pm advisory update......

The projected track and cone of error have shifted slightly north as of the 11pm advisory update......



There is a possibility that Onslow County will open up shelters sometime Wednesday. At this time, it is unknown how many or which shelters will be opened.

Last night, I noticed that the county has changed the Dixon area shelter from Dixon High School to the new Dixon Middle School, located on Ridgefield Ave, off Hwy 210 between Four Corners and Old Folkstone Rd. Since this change was not communicated to ARES at all, the Dixon Middle School shelter has NO outside antenna or coax present to ARES use. This presents a serious problem if this shelter is opened. A different method of setting up for Amateur Radio at this shelter will need to be utilized IF this shelter is opened.

The current timeline that has been communicated to me as of earlier this afternoon is the possibility of chosen shelters to open Wednesday evening/night and minimally staffed until possibly 0500 Thursday morning. Again, all exact information is currently unknown and will be sent out to every one as soon as I am made aware by Emergency Services.

At this time, there is NO ARES ACTIVATION, however, we have been asked by Onslow County Emergency Services to prepare for an activation request, dependent upon their final decision(s) on shelter operations. With that being said, we need to begin getting a list of volunteers available in the event we are activated, so we can respond and deploy in a quick and orderly fashion upon getting the official notification from EM.

Those volunteering for a shelter must keep in mind that the shelter choices can change at the last minute and we have no control in the decision making process from the County. On that note, we cannot have a bunch of operators request one particular shelter and then have none at another. So if you are able and can volunteer, please let me know as soon as possible. The typical shift schedule for shelter and EOC Amateur Radio personnel is 12 hours.

In the event of an activation, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, that the activation and shelter operations for Amateur Radio are more than likely for the DURATION of the actual storm only, typically for 24-30 hours. For Hurricane Matthew in 2016, we were activated for a total of 29 hours. Once shelters begin to clear out, some clients may decide to remain and the County may keep shelters open in some locations, but Amateur Radio presence is NOT always needed during the entire time that shelters may be occupied.

On a more personal note, once we "pull the trigger" on an activation, we HAVE TO GET THE BALL ROLLING. When one of our served agencies requests us, we need to be there. We must be punctual, professional and tactful.

Thanks in advance for your support!!!!

All,As all of you are aware, Hurricane Florence is getting closer and closer to the eastern seaboard.The path of this st...


As all of you are aware, Hurricane Florence is getting closer and closer to the eastern seaboard.

The path of this storm is still uncertain and the cone of error is still too wide to make any accurate predictions as to the path this storm will take.

Judging by the recent forecasts, it is time to send out a group e-mail regarding ARES.

***NOW*** is the time to make sure YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR PETS and YOUR PROPERTY are prepared. Take the time NOW to begin your preparations. Check your generators, batteries, radio equipment, and emergency supplies and get everything organized and ready. Check expiration and "best by" dates on your supplies.

I am not going to go into every fine detail of generator safety and everything else here. I just wanted to remind everyone that emergency preparedness is NO JOKE, neither is this storm.

A few key points to keep in mind for ARES:

- DO NOT SELF DEPLOY - If we are needed, we will be called by any of our served agencies. Myself and the AECs will be contacted by the proper officials if our services are needed.
- If the storm is predicted to be severe enough, the County may decide to NOT open shelters and order large scale evacuations. Know your evacuation routes and where you can go and what you need to take with you.
- Ensure your radios are programmed correctly and operating properly, all batteries are charged and dry-cell packs are not leaking.
- If you are available to operate a shelter, please let the ARES staff know as soon as possible. We must prepare to provide to all 4 county shelters, but the County may decide to open only certain ones.
- The 4 primary shelters are: Dixon High School, Commons Middle School, Swansboro High School, and Richlands High School.
- As far as staffing levels at the shelter and EOC, it is desired to have at least 2 operators for each shelter and a minimum of 2 for the EOC. Personnel staffing the EOC are required to have the 4 ICS classes on record.
- If going to a shelter to operate, ensure you bring any necessary supplies for you and your family.
- The only pet friendly shelter is Commons Middle School.
- Due to the HF antenna at the EOC still being broken, someone needs to be available with HF capabilities in order to reach the Tarheel Emergency Net and the Eastern Branch EOC in Kinston.
- The 147.000 repeater is the primary ARES repeater in the event of an activation.

Here are a couple of links to check if you would like more information of hurricane and disaster preparedness in general:

1. https://readync.org/EN/Index.html
2. https://www.ready.marines.mil/

Also, aboard USMCB LeJeune, you can listen to AM 1630. Their broadcast transmitter often provides preparedness tips and updates during a disaster.

In Onslow County, you can monitor almost any local media outlet (TV radio etc) to get information in the event of a disaster.

If anyone has any questions regarding ARES, please contact myself, Mike McLain, Mike Pratt or Scott Parham directly. We are the points of contact for our served agencies. Once we get more information, we will definitely send it out to all of you as quickly as possible.



Anyone still wishing to volunteer as a radio operator at a check point during the Boots On The Run on Saturday September 8 2018, let us know so we can get you on the list!



There will no organized ARES tonight due to Thanksgiving. Please spend time with your families and loved ones this evening...


Onslow County ARES

Onslow County ARES

Onslow County ARES's cover photo

Onslow County ARES's cover photo


Jacksonville, NC


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