Post-Katrina Communications Wiz Named Hancock County's New PIO

Brice Phillips owns WQRZ Radio. He's also the founder of Hancock County's Amateur Radio Association. Now he's the county's new Public Information Officer.

But what you might not know is he provided the only communications in or out of Hancock County for days right after Katrina struck.

"When all else fails, amateur radio works until other systems get put in place and put online. I didn't have time to think about it. It was time to hook another radio up," Phillips said. "When anybody is left with the last resource, you share it with your friends, you share it with your family, you share it with your community."

Hancock County's Emergency Management Director Brian Adams has nothing but praise for Phillips and his amateur radio equipment.

"It was a tremendous asset for not only the EOC, but for the citizens of Hancock County," Adams said.

Phillips helped people in Hancock County contact family across the nation. He also helped get parts shipped in to get the Bay St. Louis water system back up.

"Another one was AMR calls. We did so much medical, a lot of medical calls. It was just us," Phillips remembered. "I got very little sleep the first week. We were 24/7 running that ham radio."

Just hours after the storm, Phillips had his low power radio station WQRZ running again. He used downed flag poles and anything else he could find to make antennas to mount on top of the EOC building.

"I kept trying to climb up there for like three hours, I think it was, with 45 to 70 mile per hour gusts. It was kind of windy."

Phillips is modest about the job he did, but those who counted on him are full of praise. Phillips is still providing daily updates of recovery information on 103.5 FM.

by Al Showers