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Winds topple part of radio tower

Emergency groups still able to communicate
Laura Walz

High winds toppled the top of a radio tower at the Cranberry Training Centre. The tower buckled over during a storm on Monday, March 12. Winds up to 113 kilometres an hour were recorded in the Powell River area during the storm.

Two public safety lifeline volunteer groups have equipment on the tower, said Ryan Thoms, Powell River Regional Emergency Program coordinator. “It’s a little soon still to know conclusively how this will affect communications,” he said, “but given that the tower is now approximately 30 feet shorter, we know this will have at least some restrictive effect on their communications abilities. We have no plan at this point to replace this tower, so for at least the short term we will remount antennas on what remains of this tower.”

The impact for the local emergency communications group’s operations will be minimal, Thoms added. “We’ll lose a little bit of range on VHF radio point-to-point communications because of lower antenna heights,” he said. “We still should be able to reach all designated reception centre locations in the region.” There will be no impact on radio communication to Victoria, Thoms said. “Our emergency communication trailer and portable equipment is intended to be used at an emergency operation centre and we do not rely on the Cranberry location other than for our monthly training sessions.”

The damaged antenna was very important for Powell River Search and Rescue, Thoms also said. “They are currently using a backup antenna, which works, but is less effective,” he said. “The group will be discussing communications options, but don’t yet have a decision at this point.”

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