We’re very lucky in Madison County and in the entire state of Alabama to have a capable group of radio amateurs who are involved with the emergency and disaster response planning at both state and county levels. We train and work with these agencies, and have a good working relationship with those agencies. Post-Katrina, radio amateurs from Alabama provided valuable service for months in the disaster areas.
Recently, there was a full scale statewide interoperability test. Here’s a good article about it. This test was designed in part to test integration of amateur radio operations with the state’s extensive communications capabilities.
My participation was limited to checking my station, making sure my generator would start, and checking in as available for service. That doesn’t sound like much but when you consider that hundreds of other people across the state are doing the same thing, you can see how quickly communications can be established after a disaster, even if everything is down. Everything. Power, telephones, cell phones, and internet.