Coast Guard Preps for Storms

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen
TAMPA (2009-06-01) -

State and county emergency managers aren't the only ones preparing for the hurricane season. The U.S. Coast Guard is an integral part of that "first responder" team and is also running drills.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to refine its response to hurricanes after experiences learned in Katrina, Rita and Ike. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen says they respond to each storm individually. Yet, there are general practices applied to all storms and the first step is to evacuate Coast Guard families so the first responders don't worry.

"That was a real key to the success we had in New Orleans," Allen said. "Some of the folks lost their homes, but they didn't have to worry where their family was.

When a storm is approaching, the Coast Guard decides when to close the port and shut down bridges. Its aircraft and boats also are redeployed so they can return quickly after the hurricane has passed.

Captain Tim Close is the St. Petersburg sector commander and Coast Guard Captain of the Port. His sector has participated in several hurricane exercises. He says one drill included a scenario with a storm surge that had them move his St. Petersburg headquarters to Manatee County.

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