When the flood of 1993 hit Jefferson City, ham radios helped to provide reliable communication networks in a severe situation that left many people without power, and before cell phones were a common commodity.
That's why the Mid-Missouri Amateur Radio Club wants to show the public how they can keep means of communication open even when the power is out. From 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday, ham operators will be camped out and demonstrating their emergency communications capabilities as part of the American Radio Relay League's annual Field Day event.
The free event is open to the public.
Chapter Vice President Mike Dolson said it's a good opportunity for club members and ham radio operators to practice how they would operate their radios in an emergency and for the public to check out the usefulness of ham radios.
"The intent is to set up in a location and use emergency power," Dolson said. "Most of us have radio stations in our homes and we're plugged into a wall, but sometimes electricity goes out, and this gives us the opportunity to practice what it would be like having to use a generator and operate our stations from an area we're not really familiar with and without traditional power."
During the demonstration, the public can watch ongoing operations and learn about the process. The Jefferson City Fire Department will have a communications trailer set up, and the Missouri Department of Transportation will also have a trailer with a communications section at the demonstration, which operators will use.
People can also learn how to become licensed operators and get on the air with their own stations. The Mid-Missouri Amateur Radio Club hosts free licensing classes to help interested people prepare for the licensing exam.
The Field Day demonstration is part of a bigger event happening throughout the United States and Canada.
"The fun part of it is, is we try to contact as many other stations in the U.S. and Canada doing the same thing that we are," Dolson said. "But it also gives us practice in operation stations from emergency power."
The demonstration will be in the field next to the Porite Plant at 1535 Fairgrounds Road in Jefferson City.