Coast Guard responds in the wake of Sandy

A MH-65T Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City rescues three people stranded in their homes in New York boroughs that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Oct 30, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Atlantic City.

A MH-65T Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City rescues three people stranded in their homes in New York boroughs that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Oct 30, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Atlantic City.

The Coast Guard has a proud tradition of preserving life in even the most adverse conditions and stood ready to continue that tradition in the wake of Sandy.

Previous to Sandy’s landfall, the Coast Guard pre-positioned resources to better ensure the service’s ability to support search and rescue operations immediately following the storm. This careful planning and preparation paid off, as the Coast Guard’s help was needed before Sandy even made landfall when the HMS Bounty began sinking in the Atlantic Ocean with 16 souls aboard.

A view of damage on the shoreline from a Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City overflight. U.S. Coast Guard photos by Air Station Atlantic City.

A view of damage on the shoreline from a Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City overflight. U.S. Coast Guard photos by Air Station Atlantic City.

While the dramatic rescue aboard Bounty has captured the nation’s attention, Coast Guard helicopter crews were also busy responding to multiple requests to rescue people who were trapped in their homes in the wake of the storm. Coast Guard aircrews were sent from both air stations Atlantic City and Cape Cod to provide search and rescue response.

Yesterday, in just one of these recues, three people – trapped in their home from the extreme high tides – were saved by a MH-65T Dolphin aircrew. As the three people were taken to area hospitals in the safety of a Coast Guard helicopter, another crew assisted New York Police marine units with nine people in distress.

Despite the hard work of emergency responders, people are still in need. Airboats, traditionally used for ice rescues in the Great Lakes region, were dispatched from the 9th Coast Guard District to support this need. These unique boats can operate in shallow water and are able to help out in flooded communities and 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 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 response is bigger than any one state or any one agency, and the Coast Guard is also 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 working to inspect shore-side facilities for damage.

Vehicles hauling Coast Guard airboats are parked along Interstate-80 in Ohio as 9th Coast Guard District crews deploy to the East Coast to support Hurricane Sandy response operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sean McCarthy.

Vehicles hauling Coast Guard airboats are parked along Interstate-80 in Ohio as 9th Coast Guard District crews deploy to the East Coast to support Hurricane Sandy response operations. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Sean McCarthy.

At sea, buoy positions will be checked to ensure vessels can navigate shipping channels safely. Crews are also in the process of identifying new hazards or areas where shoaling has occurred due to moving sand disturbed by Sandy. In addition to 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 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. 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 impact of the storm on communities along the Atlantic seaboard, Coast Guard units will respond and remain at the ready.

A Coast Guard flight mechanic from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., observes property damages by Hurricane Sandy during an over-flight. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

A Coast Guard flight mechanic from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., observes property damages by Hurricane Sandy during an over-flight. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Erik Swanson.

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  • BarbD

    Great work, guys! My son’s in the Coast Guard and I read all your stories. As a writer, though, I do have to weigh in on the use of “prepositioned” in the second paragraph. I realize hyphens are going the way of the rotary telephone, but there are times when they truly aid reading comprehension. This is one of those times. I kept reading “prepositioned” as “preposition” with an -ed tacked on. I finally realized you meant PRE-positioned. Thanks for reading my grammar nit!!!

  • Reen B

    Thank you, Coast Guard, for all you’re doing. Being landlocked in Texas I feel helpless to do a thing to aid all those affected (except my paltry donation), but I have confidence in our nation’s service members to step in and restore safety up there. Bravo!

    (Oh…and the Coast Guard has airboats? That is cooool!)

  • LT S. M. Young

    BarbD,

    I’m glad you commented! I went back and forth with “prepositioned” and “pre-positioned,” and I supposed I chose the wrong one! I just edited the word so that paragraph will read more smoothly. Thanks for the comment!

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  • Rich

    First you hear the noise in the distance, you turn to the left, to the right, you look behind you. You recognize the sound, but you can’t see it. Suddenly someone points and shouts “There it is” and with that a new energy comes over everyone. Its the U.S. Coast Guard! The Angels of the sea! In just a few moments you know that one of these Angels will drop down in to the jaws of Death and the doors of hell to pick up a stranded, helpless person in need. They don’t ask questions, look for publicity, or even announce that they’re on their way to a disaster. Just like an Angel….they just show up. When they leave, there’s no parade, press conference, nothing….after all, they’re just the Angels of the sea.

  • Lee

    Doing a great job!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BZZ4DRFDDW2K53IRHW3ROE2WUQ Anon

    Any news on the condition of TRACEN Cape May? I am sure that base got walloped..

  • LT S. M. Young

    Anon,

    The latest update on Cape May can be found here:

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs

  • Isles_Fan_23

    Thank you for all that you guys have done. I live in Nassau County on Long Island and I am one of the VERY VERY FEW houses in my town that have power. As a frequent visitor to Robert Moses beach I always go past the station at Jones Beach and I was wondering how bad the station was hit considering it is right on the water. I hope it wasn’t hit too hard. But seriously thank you very much for all your efforts during the storm, after the storm, and even when there aren’t any storms around.

  • K

    i live on the water on long island. as someone who will be affected by this disaster for months to come, i whole-heartedly appreciate your “paltry” donation. due to flooding and fires, many of us will be without power and heat for months. i’m fortunate to have loved ones offering to help (which is the only reason i’m able to write this) but, like many of my neighbors, my home may be unlivable for months. many people on the east coast – and a block away from me – have it far worse than i do. thank you for thinking of us. every little bit helps.

  • Ken Wyckoff

    Is there any word on the fate of Manasquan Inlet Station in Point Pleasent Beach NJ
    That was my first duty station in 1965-66

    Ken Wyckoff former USCG

  • James

    Hey Stephanie, it’s James from OSPR, hope all is well, just saw your story, keep up the awesome work you do. Hope all is well over there we wish we could help.

  • TT

    Good job storm warriors. Whenever I see that the Coast Guard, the Army Core of Engineers, and the National Guard are in full swing during a disaster, I know that we’re in good hands. Thanks for the articles. It helps to know that you guys are on the job. Be safe.

  • Tom B

    How did station Sandy Hook fare during the storm? Did the units ride out the storm at Earle Naval Weapons Station?