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Long Island Ham Radio Operator Helps Relay Messages From Hurricane Victims In Puerto Rico

COPIAGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- With Puerto Rico's telecommunications down, frantic friends and relatives are unable to reach loved ones on the island following Hurricane Maria.

Bob Meyers, of Copiague, Long Island, is trying to help.

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An engineering supervisor retired from CBS network news after 40 years and now a local amateur radio volunteer, Meyers is using his hobby to make a real difference.

With the power grid wiped out, victims of Maria cannot receive -- but they can send out -- messages via volunteer ham radio, relaying the conversation right into Meyers' Copiague home.

Bob Meyers
Bob Meyers communicates with hurricane victims in Puerto Rico using his ham radio. (credit: CBS2)

"The FCC allocates frequency bands to us for use," Meyers told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan. "Our payback for it is that we provide community service, and that's what we love to do."

The short-wave radio messages he transcribes and delivers are emotional.

Of one communication, Meyers said: "He said the place looked like an atom bomb had hit it. He said everything is down. They have no running water, so they've been drinking and using cisterns."

Meeting grateful families makes all the difference.

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"They lost everything -- everything. They don't have electricity. No water, no food, no nothing," said Sania Garcia, of Copiague, adding at least she knows the most important thing -- they are alive.

As soon as Puerto Rico begins to get power restored, local families can come to Babylon Town Hall, where Great South Bay ham radio volunteers will help connect them to their loved ones in a two-way conversation.

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