LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB)- Rescues and clean up efforts in Houston are still underway as recovery from Harvey continues.

when technology fails in the middle of a storm, messages from right here in Western New York still make their way to the disaster zone.

Luke Calianno is tuned in to Texas. He is the Emergency Coordinator for the Lancaster ARES Emergency Alert System here in Lancaster. He sends “radio-grams” to areas across the country, to those who are facing disaster.

Calianno said, “It feels really good. Because I’m in turn giving back to the community. This is what our hobby is all about.”

These are called radio-grams, and they work just like a telegram.  When Hurricane Harvey hit, cell phone service was weak, and electricity was not easy to access to people in Houston.

Calianno said, “That’s where the ham radio comes in. When all else fails, ham radio always gets through.”

It’s something that comes in handy here in Buffalo. Calianno said, “Here in Buffalo when we have a big major snow storm, the cellphones go down because the cell towers are overwhelmed. They can’t handle the calls that are coming through.”

Calianno says his response to Harvey is similar to what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

He received calls from family members here trying to get in touch with their relatives, stuck in disaster zones.

Calianno said, “We had many requests to send these  “radio-grams” down to the shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi. They all went out, we got several responses back where they were able to get in touch with their relatives down in the Buffalo area.”

The public can now send free messages to loved ones and friends in Texas.

The messages are distributed to all of the affected area shelters.

You can reach out with your message to Calianno through the Lancaster Amateur Radio Facebook page here.

You can Facebook search – lancasterares

You can also email them directly at:

Messages are restricted to 25 words or less.

Recipients Required information:

Name, address, city,  phone,

Name of person sending radio message

Email is not required but may help.