Coast Guard Musters Distant Aircraft to Assist Hurricane Harvey Rescues
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Coast Guard aircraft and boat crews have been operating non-stop in search-and rescue operations in southeastern Texas, the service’s Eighth District said in an Aug. 28 release.
The Coast Guard has dispatched aircraft from as far away as Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Washington to assist in the rescue of people — and animals — in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated southeastern Texas with heavy rains and flooding.
“Coast Guard aircrews have rescued approximately 300 people in distress and Flood Punt Teams have rescued approximately 1200 people in distress,” the release said.
“Our crews have been operating non-stop,” Capt. Kevin Oditt, Coast Guard Incident Commander said in the release. “This is an all-hands-on-deck event bringing crews from all over the nation to help with our response.”
The service has arrayed 20 helicopters and nine Coast Guard Flood Punt Teams, the latter operating 21 shallow-draft vessels, capable of operating in flooded urban areas.
The Coast Guard’s First District, headquartered in Boston, Mass., has sent two MH-60J Jayhawk helicopters, one HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) Cape Cod and their 18 crew members and nine other personnel to the Air Training Center Mobile, Ala, for operations in Texas, the Coast Guard said in an Aug. 27 release.
The aircraft are augmenting Coast Guard aircraft from Mobile and Coast Guard MH-65 helicopters from CGAS Corpus Christi, CGAS Houston, and Coast Guard Station Lake Jackson in Texas.
Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft from CGAS Clearwater, Fla., have flown 40 personnel from a Maritime Safety and Security Team and Air Station Miami to the affected region, an Aug. 28 Seventh District release said.
Helicopters from Air Station San Diego have deployed to Texas, backfilled by an MH-60T helicopters from Warrenton, Ore. Personnel from Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., Sector Puget Sound, and the 13th District also have deployed to the affected region, according to an Aug. 28 release from the 13th District.
"This is an all-hands response that involves personnel and support from across the country," said Capt. Sean Cross, incident management chief, 13th District. "Our crews train using standardized procedures on identical assets regardless of their home unit. This facilitates response flexibility by allowing us to mix and match crews and assets from different locations in time of crisis such as this."
In another Aug. 27 release, the Coast Guard said it had deployed other assets to Houston-Galveston area including:
- Three 29-foot response boat-small from Coast Guard Station Houston
- Three 29-foot response boat-small from Coast Guard Station Lake Jackson
- Two 29-foot response boat-small and five 45-foot response boat-medium from Coast Guard Station Galveston
- An 87-foot patrol boat from Coast Guard Sector Louisiana
Helicopters have rescued people and at least one dog from rooftops in the region.
The current operation is reminiscent of the Coast Guard’s rescue effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, mostly in New Orleans and its environs.
“Of the estimated 60,000 people that needed to be rescued from rooftops and flooded homes, Coast Guardsmen saved more than 33,500, including rescuing from peril 24,135 lives and evacuating 9,409 medical patients to safety,” the Coast Guard website says of the Katrina operations.