What a FEMA Primary Entry Point emergency alert radio station looks like

Sean Donelan sean at donelan.com
Tue Oct 23 04:42:02 UTC 2018

Almost 100% use of the Emergency Alert System is for local and weather 
alerts. Nevertheless, there are people who plan for the worst case 
scenario (i.e. "the really bad, bad day").

If you wonder what a hardened Primary Entry Point station for the 
Emergency Alert System looks like... a rare media event.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects to reveal new studio 
capabilities at WLW(AM) in Cincinnati on Wednesday during a first of its 
kind broadcast from a shelter at the transmitter site of the National 
Public Warning System (NWPS) Primary Entry Point (PEP) radio station.

The iHeartMedia radio station is one of 77 PEP radio stations across the 
country and the second to have added modernized emergency studio 
facilities. Enhanced studio capabilities were completed at WJR(AM) in 
Detroit earlier this year, according to Manny Centeno, FEMA’s NPWS program 
manager. The upgrades include increased sheltering capabilities, expanded 
broadcast capacity, and sustainable power generation for all types of 
hazardous events.

Why does the federal government spend money to harden a few radio stations 
around the country? An example of a "bad day" (but not a really bad, bad 
day) was Hurricane Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. 
Manny Centeno was just one of 15,000 federal employees, and over 100,000 
industry, volunteer and local government responders.  WSTA and WKAQ are 
the two hardened PEP stations serving the islands.

Nowhere was this challenge more apparent than in Puerto Rico when 
Hurricane Maria slammed into the island just over a year ago. When the 
Category 4 hurricane struck the island with 150-mph winds and rain 
measured in feet – not inches – it knocked out just about every imaginable 
infrastructure from being usable. Those roads, bridges, airports, harbors, 
utilities, essential services and communications that were not destroyed 
or operable post-storm were crippled to a point that they could not 
provide the capacities necessary for the demands of the response and 
recovery conditions.

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