Coast Guard crews along Florida Gulf Coast prepare for Hurricane Irma

Members from Coast Guard Station Cortez, a multi-mission unit on the west coast of Florida, make preparations to evacuate their crew and assets out of Hurricane Irma’s path before it makes landfall. The Coast Guard has pre-positioned personnel, pollution response teams, cutters, small boats and aircraft to ensure they are ready to respond immediately following Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford)

Members from Coast Guard Station Cortez make preparations to evacuate their crew and assets out of Hurricane Irma’s path before it makes landfall. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Coast Guard stations along Florida’s Gulf Coast pre-staged personnel and boats Saturday for potential Hurricane Irma impacts to the area.

Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg and stations Fort Myers Beach, Cortez, St. Petersburg, Sand Key and Yankeetown have pre-staged personnel and boats to ensure rapid deployment of resources after the storm passes the Clearwater area and it’s safe for Coast Guard crews to respond.

“Just as the Coast Guard and its members are preparing in advance, we urge the public to do so as well.” said Capt. Holly Najarian, Captain of the Port for Tampa (COTP), St. Petersburg and Manatee. “Having a hurricane kit and emergency evacuation plans can help ensure the safety of individuals in our community and their loved ones, both during and after a storm.”

Maritime search and rescue capabilities may be degraded or unavailable immediately before, during and after the storm. We urge boaters to stay off the water.

Mariners in need of emergency assistance are urged to contact (727) 824-7506 to directly reach Coast Guard communication watchstanders. Due to potential high-call volume, continue to call if the line is busy. 911 services should only be used for land-based emergencies.

It is important to note this number is only for life-threatening maritime emergencies along Florida’s west coast. Coast Guard response capabilities will be severely degraded or delayed due to severe weather as Hurricane Irma passes through the area.

Mariners are strongly discouraged from requesting life-saving assistance through social media. Coast Guard access to social media feeds may be severely limited due to the effects of the storm.

For information on Hurricane Irma’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s webpage.

For imagery and video of the Hurricane Irma response, please visit our Flicker page.

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