By Coast Guard Lt. Stephanie Young
U.S. Coast Guard Compass Blog
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2012 – Coast Guard helicopter crews are busy responding to requests to rescue people who were trapped in their homes, while other Coast Guard members are providing additional response and recovery assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the nation’s Eastern Seaboard.
Despite the hard work of emergency responders, people are still in need. Airboats that are traditionally used for ice rescues in the Great Lakes region were dispatched from the 9th Coast Guard District. These unique boats can operate in shallow water and are able to provide assistance in flooded communities.
Meanwhile, more than a dozen Coast Guardsmen from stations in Ohio and Michigan deployed to the East Coast to support Sandy response operations.
“We are providing crewmembers and assets that are normally used for ice rescue operations and are now going to be used in a completely different environment,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jeff Ogden, commander of Sector Detroit. “There are millions of people affected by this storm, and we are ready to assist them in any way we can.”
The Coast Guard is coordinating with partners to assess damage in ports and waterways. Maritime transportation system recovery units are in place to coordinate the reopening and survey of local waterways and facilities. Coast Guard crews -- in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, local harbor pilots and state and local authorities – are inspecting shoreside facilities for damage.
At sea, buoy positions will be checked to ensure vessels can navigate the shipping channels safely. Crews are in the process of identifying new hazards or areas where shoaling has occurred because of sand disturbed by Sandy. Along with debris and obstructions in the water, several boats are adrift along the entire Eastern Seaboard.
“We are continuing to work closely with our partner agencies to assess damage to our ports and waterways,” said Coast Guard Capt. Joseph Vojvodich, commander of Sector Long Island Sound. “Boaters are reminded to stay off the water until the waterways are reopened. If you have a recreational boat or watercraft that has come free from its mooring, please report it to the Coast Guard immediately. This can save valuable search-and-rescue resources from unnecessarily looking for a missing person.”
The remnants of Hurricane Sandy continue to pose a danger, and activities on the water should be avoided for the next few days, officials said. The public is advised to stay clear of beaches as currents remain a danger. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents in the wake of storms. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
The storm is still powerful as it inches across Pennsylvania. Those still in the storm’s path should stay informed and be prepared. As the nation continues to assess the storm’s impact on communities along the Atlantic Seaboard, Coast Guard units will respond and remain at the ready.