04 September 2005

The Coast Guard and Katrina

Is it just me, or does it seem like the Coasties have been the unsung Heroes of the Katrina relief efforts over the past week?

Look at the headline of this CG press release dated September 01, 2005

Fourth Day of Rescue, Recovery Operations Continue
(emphasis mine)

Remember Katrina officially made landfall at 6.10am Aug 29. The article continues:

More than 2,580 people have been rescued off of rooftops and flooded neighborhoods since rescue operations began Monday, and joint-agency rescue operations are continuing through the day and night.

There are 25 cutters off the Gulf Coast, in the rivers, and in the ports and waterways. The Coast Guard cutters Pelican, Cypress and Spencer are currently transiting the Mississippi River to New Orleans to establish a command and control presence and provide a flight deck, fuel and communications to the search and rescue assets in and around New Orleans.

Thirty-five aircraft and hundreds of air crew personnel are in the area from Coast Guard air stations as far away as Barbers Point, Hawaii, and Cape Cod, Mass. Coast Guard C-130s are en route to Air Station New Orleans with additional fuel supplies.

In fact, the Coast Guard had already rescued three people aboard a fishing boat as early as August 25:

Coast Guard rescue crew braves Katrina's winds

From Clearwater, they flew to within 10 miles of the storm's eye to save three people aboard a fishing boat.

"I have never been in anything even close to that," said Coast Guard Lt. Craig Massello, commander of the HH-60-J Jayhawk helicopter, based at Air Station Clearwater.

For Massello and his crew of three, it was clearly a dangerous mission. But they weighed that against the three people who might lose their lives at sea.

"The risk versus gain was worth it," Massello said.

"We started watching the winds go to as much as 85 knots," or 95 mph, Massello said.

The fierce winds were blowing the helicopter off course and using up far more fuel than any normal flight. By the time the crew reached the Mary Lynn, it was roughly 1:30 a.m., completely dark, and Katrina was raging.

Using night vision goggles, they could barely see "a glow in the mist," said Lt. j.g. David Sheppard, the co-pilot, who grew up in Pinellas County.

"It was at that point that we realized that we were running low on fuel," Massello said.

By 8am CST on September 4, 2005 the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Incident Command Center reports the following:
The Coast Guard has rescued more than 17,000 people from the flooded areas of New Orleans.

These rescues were performed by Coast Guard helicopters, boats and cutters, as well as ferries organized by the Coast Guard.

• The Coast Guard continues to deliver thousands of bottles of water to victims in the New Orleans area.
• The Coast Guard is coordinating the salvage of more than 100 vessels.
• The Coast Guard is monitoring hundreds of pollution cases.

The Coasties seem to be everywhere, plucking victims from the water...


Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott D. Rady, 34, of Tampa, Fla., pulls a pregnant woman from her flooded New Orleans home here today. Rady is a rescue swimmer sent from Clearwater, Fla., to help aid in search and rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

From the rooftops...


Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Huerta hoists two children into a Coast Guard rescue helicopter in New Orleans, Louisiana August 29, 2005, in this handout released on August 30, 2005. Others watch from below as the children are among many New Orleans citizens to be rescued from their rooftops due to flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.

From the superdome...


Lt. j.g. Shay Williams, of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, carries a small child from the Superdome in New Orleans into a rescue helicopter today. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi.

And delivering supplies from staging areas.


Chief Petty Officer Carey Bollinger loads cases of meals, ready-to-eat (MREs) into a helicopter at Million Air here today.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi

More Coast Guard and Katrina
Unsung No More, Now They're Running the Show

At the same time, over 2000 men and women from the Coast Guard in the Gulf States are themselves victims of Hurricane Katrina. Station Gulfport (before and after photos) has been almost completely destroyed. While the Coasties are out there doing their jobs, many of their own homes are gone.

If you can help with donations of cash, time, or goods, or if you are a soldier or military family needing assistance, click here to find out about Operation Katrina Soldiers Relief Fund.

Don't forget to log your donation here.

Technorati tags: flood aid, hurricane katrina

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