U.S. COAST GUARD
Parker, at right, and Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich, director of Operational Logistics, conducted an overflight of the
New Jersey coastline, New York Harbor and Long Island Oct. 31 to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
The Coast Guard, which is the lead federal agency in charge of the response to the storm, saw its facilities along the
East Coast sustain at least $250 million in damage.
This storm, for us, started down south of Cuba. It
impacted our operations down in the gap between
Haiti and Jamaica … our operations and facility at
Guantanamo Bay, as we cannot move back into it. We
are operating at a temporary facility down there, even
today, and through the Bahamas, where it impacted our
units and stations. And, of course, it then [hit] all our
units from Central New Jersey up through just about
Boston, where we are still trying to recover.
Our teams also oversaw the cleanup of hazardous
materials. There were only three major oil spills,
which is pretty amazing considering the magnitude of
this storm. We are also responding to the 500-plus
federal pollution cases, which include things like
boats being washed up on somebody’s yard that still
have fuel onboard or batteries. When we lost our
capability to do [vessel] boardings in places like Sandy
Hook, we received assistance from Navy assets to host
our teams in order to keep goods moving through and
reopen the port.
What types of assets did the Coast Guard use
and how many lives were saved?
PARKER: It’s been an all-hands-on-deck evolution. We
can pull from all kinds of different places and pull from
different resources. We were able to bring up a few HC-
144 Ocean Sentry and HC-130 Hercules aircraft out of
North Carolina and points south. Also, the High-Endurance Cutter Gallatin and Medium-Endurance
Cutter Spencer were engaged at some point in the New
York area. We also used our Maritime Safety and
Security Team down in Kings Bay, Ga., and have our
National Strike Force that’s still responding to the hazardous materials and chemical releases that are being
contained up in New York.
We saved 35 lives and assisted five other [rescue
missions]. The most notable was from the HMS Bounty,
where 14 of the 16 crew members were rescued.
How many Coast Guard units were damaged
as a result of the storm?
PARKER: Pretty much every unit between Montauk,
N.Y., and Cape May, N.J., had some level of damage if
they were on the coast, including the ones up by Long
Island Sound all the way up to and including the Coast
Guard Academy, which is pretty well tucked away in
New London, Conn. There are some other bits and
pieces along the coast that had minor damage. We really only have three units that are not partially mission
capable. The total bill for the Coast Guard is somewhere around a quarter billion dollars, but we won’t
know until a final estimate is done.