Coast Guard 5th District recognizes Katrina anniversary

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, becoming one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.

At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. The total property damage for Katrina was estimated at $81 billion.

As the fifth year anniversary of Katrina’s devastation comes near, the Coast Guard recognizes the indelible mark the response made on the organization and its history.

As a result of Katrina’s impact, the scope and magnitude of Coast Guard response operations surpassed that of any previous response. Coast Guardsmen saved 24,136 lives from imminent danger and evacuated 9,409 patients from local hospitals. By the end of the response, the Coast Guard had saved 33,545 persons.

Coast Guardsmen, units and assets from throughout the Coast Guard 5th District were deployed to help support response operations in the affected areas.

Cmdr. Nevada Smith, National Capital Region program manager, recounts his experience as an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot during the response.

[amazon-product]0978961900[/amazon-product]“I remember these two kids, who were about 10 years old, pushing people in grocery carts to a house we called ‘The Bus Stop,’” said Smith. “The house had a hole in the roof and people just kept coming out and getting in the basket with the help of the two Coast Guard rescue swimmers. My aircrew spent the entire first day pulling people out of that house. I was on the left side of the helicopter and saw the kids pushing two grocery carts. We made sure the kids and their passengers would not be disappointed. We actually pulled them up from the street in 3 feet of water that was near ‘The Bus Stop.’ I’m sure those kids have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.”

Five years after the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the organization is once again surging to help the gulf region during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The scale of the response from local Coast Guard units is reminiscent of the response associated with Katrina. The Coast Guard’s 5th District, which is responsible for the coastal United States from the middle of New Jersey to the southern border of North Carolina, deployed over 10 percent of its personnel to the Deepwater Horizon response.

More than 40,000 people from numerous federal, state and local agencies, volunteer groups and non-governmental organizations, academia and industry came together in a matter of weeks into a force nearly the size of the entire Coast Guard, to protect and serve the people and environment of the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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