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Posted: September 22, 2017

Florida pastor uses ham radio to get information from Puerto Rico

Ham radio.
WFTV.com
Ham radio.

By Lauren Seabrook, WFTV.com

A Florida pastor with a heart for helping is going old school to get information from Puerto Rico.

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An antenna coming out of his window, strung through the trees up over his house, is connecting Ian Thomas to the unreachable.

Early Thursday morning, his ham radio was silent. 

"And by 9:30, things started jumping. And then we were talking to Puerto Rico,” he said.

Many people in Central Florida, like Alexandra Ale, have family on the island that was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

"I was feeling like I was suffocating because my hands are tied and kind of just waiting around to hear from someone," Ale said.

Thomas is taking requests from people across the United States, then doing what he can to find out through radio waves if they're all right.

"They just need someone to knock on the door and say, 'Are you still alive? Are you OK, Grandma?'

“Because you have an 80-year-old lady who didn't think anything would happen and no one's checked on her,” Thomas said.

The process is tedious, but he's not going to stop because he knows for so many families, giving up on loved ones is not an option.

Ale is thankful because her family is one of few with enough phone service to get a message out.

She now knows at the very least they are alive.

"My sister's words, 'It looks like a bomb exploded,’” she said.


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