Reservist

ISS4 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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while still actively responding to the flooding in Texas, Coast Guard senior leadership eyed the string of storms churning in the Caribbean. A week later, Florida declared a state of emergency, setting off the largest evacuation in the state's history. The nation followed closely on social media and 24- hour news sites as Hurricane I RMA tore across the Florida Keys less than a week later, wrapping around the western edge of the southernmost state. Coast Guardsmen responded to the call while trying not to worry about their own destroyed property and displaced dependents. Hundreds of aids-to-navigation were thrown off course, halting traffic in multiple ports. Vessels lay strewn along the coasts of Florida, Texas and Louisiana. And, of course, J OSE , another Category 4 hurricane, was still winding through the Caribbean. Puerto Rico had already been dealing with a loss of power, even though it hadn't received a direct hit by Irma or Jose. Two weeks later though, the Category 4 Hurricane Maria flattened the island, peeling roofs off houses, killing livestock and causing a power outage to 100 percent of the island's residents. "We completed four weeks of sustained hurricane response-recovery operations Coast Guard-wide, first with Harvey, then with I RMA , now with M ARIA ," said Rear Adm. Peter Brown said in September. "We've had to surge assets and people from one storm to another -- it's been a continuous, sprint-level effort." More than 800 reservists were recalled to assist with the intense hurricane season – the first mass recall of reservists since Deepwater Horizon. Coast Guard crews worked out of hotels and continuity-of-operations (COOP) sites. The overwhelmed 911 system crashed, multiple times, sending the public toward social media sites to get the attention of first responders. Phone banks were set up and staffed to catch the overflow of calls. Command centers began to take requests for help via social media, a change from twelve years ago during Hurricane Katrina, when social media was still in its infancy. "Crisis breeds innovation," said Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, the Coast Guard's deputy commandant for mission support, in a recent interview. She cited a need for a response app that would harness the power of multiple social media platforms, channeling the information to the Coast Guard and other first responders in a way that would directly feed operations. As of late October, half of the 3.5 million residents of Puerto Rico remained without power, and Coast Guard crews continued to work to open the ports, reset ATON, and provide relief to the citizens, including food, water, fuel, supplies and prescription medications. "We're responding to that call," said Brown, "and we'll certainly continue for some time to come." � T o P: A Coast Guard flood punt team assists with search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane i rma in Hastings, Florida, Sept. 12. The flood punt team traveled from Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River, Tenn., to assist with Hurricane i rma rescue operations. Photo by CW o Andrew Matthews M i DDL e : Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Sarah e rnst and Lt. Cmdr. David Twomey (left) work from the Portsmouth Federal building in Portsmouth, Va., Sept. 1, to support Hurricane Harvey response efforts in Texas and Louisiana. More than 250 Coast Guard members were actively participating in a response effort in the Tidewater area of Virginia and more than 50 active duty and reserve personnel from the Tidewater area were deployed to the affected areas of the Gulf Coast. Photo by PA2 n ate Littlejohn B o TT o M: Aircrews from ATC Mobile operating in Houston hoist a wheelchair during search and rescue operations Aug. 29. 18 RESERVIST � Issue 4 • 2017

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