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STSO 'Flooded In Place' Puts Radio Operator Skills to Good Use

Friday, January 30, 2009
Image of STSO Flood

When more than two feet of snow gave way to rain and heavy flooding earlier this month, Supervisory TSO Donn Gallon of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport put his skills as an amateur radio operator to good use.

As Gallon put it, he was “flooded in place” in his home on the Skookumchuck River in southwest Washington for more than two days. But from that vantage point he was able to report on water levels and other local conditions to the Emergency Operations Center in nearby Centralia as well as to the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) that TSA partners with at Sea-Tac.

Image of TSO Donn Gallon

With the region swamped by its second “100-year” flood in two years, that information from call-sign KE7LOQ was used in disaster response efforts, helping determine damage, road closures, and where power lines were down.

With water within 20 feet of his house, Gallon was able to get to the main highway but the flooding Skookumchuck blocked him from reaching any town.

Gallon, who joined TSA when SeaTac was federalized in 2002, is the volunteer station director of MARS at Sea-Tac. A regional MARS official as well as the local emergency coordinator congratulated Gallon for being the only volunteer in Washington to provide “essential” information on the flood.