Coast Guard, partner agencies in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands prepare for Hurricane Maria

Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico trailers their 33-foot-Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boats in preparation of Hurricane Maria Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Coast Guard crews and assets are being safely relocated so they can continue reconstitution and recovery efforts once Hurricane Maria passes. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jim Connor

Coast Guard Station San Juan, Puerto Rico trailers their 33-foot-Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boats in preparation of Hurricane Maria Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jim Connor

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. Coast Guard is relocating personnel, cutters and aircraft Monday from areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico expected to be impacted by Hurricane Maria.

The Coast Guard’s first priority is to ensure safety of life at sea and that the public and its people remain safe as Hurricane Maria approaches the area. After the Hurricane, the Coast Guard will resume port reconstitution efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and respond to any maritime search and rescue situations in the area once conditions are safe for Coast Guard assets to deploy.

“We are relocating our personnel and assets to protect them from Hurricane Maria and strategically position them so that they are readily available to respond to Coast Guard missions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands once the conditions are safe, said Capt. Eric P. King, Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan. “Our priorities following the hurricane are the safety of our personnel and the public and to inspect facilities and navigable channels in order to reopen the ports and reestablish maritime commerce to the islands as soon as possible.

As the Coast Guard prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, boaters, mariners and beach goers need to realize that Search and Rescue capabilities will be limited until conditions are safe for Coast Guard surface and air assets to deploy.

The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:

  • 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. Trailer-able 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 Storm Center webpage.

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

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

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