In the past four years, Coast Guard District 8 has provided response crews to three natural disasters in large urban and suburban areas: the 2016 Louisiana Flood, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and Hurricane Michael in 2018. These storms placed residents in peril and taxed local emergency resources.
I responded to Hurricane Harvey, reporting to the Port Arthur, Texas, Incident Command Post shortly before landfall. My team’s tasking was to make contact with local emergency operations centers to offer assistance. We used secondhand, flat-bottom aluminum boats, towed behind our trucks. Flooding was widespread in an urban environment that was unfamiliar to us, with streets we didn’t know and neighborhoods we had never been to. Obstacles such as submerged cars, street signs, and fence posts added to the danger of operating a boat, even a shallow drafting one.