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Posted: August 29, 2017 4:45 PM

Coast Guard Draws More Forces to Support Harvey Relief Efforts

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Coast Guard continues to send ships, aircraft and personnel to southeast Texas to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts while maintaining search-and-rescue capabilities in the districts from which they came.

The Maria Bray, a 175-foot Keeper-class coastal buoy tender homeported in Mayport, Fla., has been dispatched to the region, the Coast Guard’s 7th District said in an Aug. 29 release.

“We’re going to do a little bit of everything,” Chief Warrant Officer Michael Tomasi, the Maria Bray’s commanding officer, said in the release. “We’re going to assist in opening up the shipping lanes so commerce can start flowing in. We’ll provide any search-and-rescue as needed and obviously any humanitarian supplies and support that they need.”

The Coast Guard has arrayed 21 helicopters in the area for rescue efforts: seven MH-60T Jayhawks and 14 MH-65 Dolphins.

A C-27J Spartan from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif., has been sent to a staging base, Air Training Center Mobile, Ala., with members of the Pacific Strike Team to provide assistance, the 11th District said in an Aug. 29 release. “The Spartan was also loaded with approximately 3,000 pounds of search and rescue equipment including an all-terrain vehicle, search and rescue skiffs, pollution response equipment and medical supplies.” 

“These California-based Coast Guard crews, aircraft and response gear will join thousands of other Coast Guard and partner agency first responders from around the nation to help the people of the Gulf Coast,” said Rear Admiral Todd Sokalzuk, the commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, in the release. “We have no shortage of volunteers for these missions because helping people and saving lives are what drive our service. I'm proud of all our crews, and the many good Samaritans in the impacted areas who are coming to the aid of their friends and neighbors.”

Coast Guard units across the Great Lakes region also sending personnel and equipment to southeast Texas, the 9th District said in an Aug. 29 release. These include are poised to send additional personnel, flight crews, air boats and inflatable rescue craft.

“In the Great Lakes, this will mean that some seasonally operated units will suspend their operations at least one week earlier than anticipated,” the 9th District said. “The affected units are listed below:
Coast Guard Station Two Rivers, Wis.
Coast Guard Station Green Bay, Wis.
Coast Station Washington Island, Wis.
Coast Guard Station Harbor Beach, Mich. 
Coast Guard Air Facility, Waukegan, Ill.”

These types of facilities normally close for the season after Labor Day and reopen the following spring.

“Despite the early suspension of operations from these locations, the Coast Guard remains fully capable of responding to emergencies throughout the Great Lakes,” said Capt. Tim Wendt, chief of response for the Ninth District, in the release. “Additionally, each Coast Guard Sector is part of a larger response community. Local, and state responders have been made aware of these changes.”

“Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Super Storm Sandy, and the Deepwater Horizon disaster, are recent examples of the Coast Guard’s ability to adapt to dramatic circumstances," said Rear Adm. Joanna Nunan, commander of the Ninth District. “We have experience with this. We can take care of those who need us at home and away.”

“The Coast Guard is continuing to work with all federal, state and local agencies for rescue operations in the Houston area. We have pulled assets and resources from across the country to create a sustainable force,” said Vice Adm. Karl Schultz, commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “This is a united effort that is still in the early stages and we are focused on the safety of those in the affected area and saving lives.”



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