CLEARWATER, Fla. — Coast Guard crew members launched Thursday to transport personnel and supplies to support post Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in Great Inagua, Bahamas and various affected areas the storm passed.
“Our mission was two-fold,” said Cmdr. Mark Driver, HC-130 Hercules airplane pilot at Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. “First we took two helicopter crews to Great Inagua, Bahamas, to provide support for search a rescue operations. The second part of the mission was delivering Coast Guard medical personnel and supplies to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so they can join with the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton in post Hurricane Matthew storm relief operations.”
The Hamilton is a 418-foot National Security Cutter homeported in South Carolina.
The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:
- Stay off the water. Local Coast Guard crews may not be available as storm conditions strengthen, meaning help could be delayed. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
- Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.
- Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
- Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
- Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.
Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage.
For information on Hurricane Matthew’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.