Saturday, September 03, 2005

The "official" word from the Coast Guard's overall incidence response

On my return from the commissary today, I passed by the Portsmouth Federal Building (home to the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area and Fifth District staffs). By the loading dock were two SVU's, each with a pop-up camper attached. A couple of guys were hanging out, looking like they were about to embark on a long drive. I imagine they are now, as I write this, several hundred miles south and headed to the impacted area.

I heard from a member of Air Station Atlantic City (New Jersey); their first helo crew which deployed is due to return home this weekend; I hope to have a few anecdotes and photographs to share. Aircraft crews have been working just at -- or over -- crew fatigue limits.

Here's the official word which arrived in my inbox as a press release:
Date: Sept. 3, 2005

Ports, waterways begin opening in affected areas
Rescue, evacuation operations continue

ST. LOUIS -- Coast Guard air operations rescued 1,245 people and conducted 385 sorties Friday, bring the total of lives saved by boat and air to more than 9,500 people since Monday.

"Saving human life, helping to sustain those in need with critical relief supplies, and evacuating critical need patients remains the Coast Guard's top priority," said Capt. Kevin L. Marshall, Chief of Staff for the Coast Guard's Eighth Coast Guard District. "In addition we continue bringing additional teams into the region to work on reconstituting the waterways to get them reopened to maritime traffic as quickly and as safely as possible."

The Lower Mississippi River has been opened to deep draft vessels with a 35-foot draft or less for one way daylight traffic only.

Only the Port of Gulfport, Miss., remains closed to all traffic. Pascagoula, Miss., is open to vessels with 12-foot draft or less. Mobile is open to barge traffic only. Pensacola, Fla., and Destin/Panama City, Fla., are open to vessels with a 31-foot draft or less.

More than 2,200 Coast Guard personnel and assets from all over the country are currently responding to the post-hurricane response operations, and more continue to arrive daily. Twenty-nine Coast Guard cutters, 52 aircraft, and numerous aids to navigation teams and incident management teams are in the Gulf area. The Coast Guard has recalled 550 reservists to active duty and has the authorization to recall up to 800 reservists.

My sources tell me the 550 reservists recalled already are primarily from D8.

Here in southeastern Virginia, the day was a typical summer holiday weekend on the water: lots of boaters, and a few who left their brains at home before getting underway. No lives lost (at least as when I write this).

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