In Sandy’s Aftermath
Coast Guard continues storm recovery efforts
as it assesses damage to its own facilities
Superstorm Sandy formed as a tropical wave in the western Caribbean
Sea on Oct. 22, grew to hurricane strength as it hit Jamaica, Cuba and
the Bahamas, and roared ashore in the Northeastern United States
with hurricane-force winds and a massive storm surge. The storm was
given the “Superstorm” tag due to its enormous size and devastating
impact in the United States, where it killed more than 100 people and
caused tens of billions of dollars in damage before dissipating on Oct.
31. Recovery efforts continue today.
U.S. COAST GUARD
The 1979 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy concurrently serves as commander, Defense Force East,
and provides Coast Guard mission support to the Department of Defense and Combatant Commanders.
The Coast Guard, which saw its Northeastern U.S. facilities sustain
at least $250 million in damage from the storm, is the lead federal
agency in charge of response. The service’s Atlantic Area commander, Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, is heading that effort.
Parker took command of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area, which
spans five Coast Guard districts and 40 states, in April 2010. He also
serves as operational commander for Coast Guard missions from the
Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.
Parker talked about Superstorm Sandy response and recovery efforts with Associate Editor John C.
Marcario. Excerpts follow:
How destructive was this storm compared to
others you have been involved with?
PARKER: The thing that really struck me was just how
big it was. It also hit a major populated area and an
area that’s not as practiced as places in the south that
are more familiar with these storms. It was just an
incredible area — size-wise — that it struck. The storm
went on for a while [before] it came to shore, and
while we were responding it turned into a winter storm
on the backside and damaged some of our stations up
in the Great Lakes and had some impact on the navigation in that area.
When you compare this to Hurricane Katrina, most
of that damage was localized. But with this storm, the
vast array of damage was really striking when we did
overflights after the first couple of days. When you get
down on the ground, what you see from the air makes
your heart sick, you see how complete the devastation
is. When you tally the emotional scope and scale of this
storm, it’s unlike anything I have ever seen.
What was going through your mind as you
tracked the storm and subsequently saw the
damage it caused?
PARKER: The most striking thing for me was how
much real estate had been changed, whether it was
sand pushed back into the community or new cuts
through the barrier islands of New Jersey. When you