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KRISTI LANGENBACHER

Three costly hurricanes kept CG busy in 2017

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By Kristi Langenbacher
Columnist

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Every year is busy for Coast Guard members, but 2017 seemed to be more busy than usual — and may long be remembered as the year of the hurricanes.

There is no typical day in the Coast Guard, and the nearly 42,000 active duty men and women work hard year-round to defend our country’s borders and protect the maritime environment. The service is unique in its responsibility for an array of maritime duties, from ensuring safe and lawful commerce to performing rescue missions in severe conditions.

Coast Guard members perform 11 official missions including: Port & Waterway Security, Drug Interdiction, Aids to Navigation, Search & Rescue, Living Marine Resources, Marine Safety, Defense Readiness, Migrant Interdiction, Marine Environmental Protection, Ice Operations and Law Enforcement.

In 2017 the Coast Guard continued its missions throughout the country and around the world to safeguard our security and prosperity. Many members deployed around the globe and were away from home and family over the holidays and at other times throughout the year.

As we look back at the Coast Guard’s many accomplishments of 2017, we should also think about the members at home and away who are putting their own lives at risk each and every day to ensure the safety of others.

Hurricane response was a top priority for the Coast Guard in 2017, and hurricane season was the costliest season on record, accumulating more than $300 billion in damages. That price tag resulted primarily from three of the season’s six major hurricanes: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The CG response during these three hurricanes was one of the largest undertakings of the service’s history. During Hurricane season 2017, the Coast Guard saved responded to more than 3,000 requests for aid and conducted more than 8,000 rescues. In all, the service saved an more than 12,000 people and rescued another 1,500 pets,

Hurricane Harvey alone dropped more than 40 inches of rain in a four-day period, and the Coast Guard responded quickly.

During Hurricane Harvey alone, Coast Guard members rescued more than 11,000 people and more than 1,300 pets.

Thousands of active duty members were joined by reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel in response to the hurricanes, and they came from as far away as Guam, Alaska and Hawaii. The service utilized rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, shallow-water boats and cutters in response to the hurricanes.

In Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft’s annual holiday message to Coast Guard members, he reflected on the remarkable year the service had in 2017, and urged people to think about the dedicated men and women who are deployed during the holidays and throughout the year.

“… please remember those who find themselves separated from home and family as we hope for their safe and swift return,” Zukunft said.

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.

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