Disaster response operations are unpredictable. I experienced this firsthand while participating in the response to Hurricane Harvey.
Immediately following its landfall, I deployed to the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Command Center to assist in search-and-rescue coordination inside what became our satellite call center. I supported a small team that answered calls from those affected by the storm. In the first 48 hours, our initial team of 11 fielded a few thousand calls for response.
In my head, I divided people into two groups: those who were safe and those who were not. I expected to interact only with those who were not safe, but around six hours into my first shift, I realized I could not ignore the “Cajun Navy.”
1. M. Markowitz, “We’ll Deal with the Consequences Later: The Cajun Navy and the Vigilante Future of Disaster Relief,” GQ, 7 December 2017.
2. C. Cocking, “The Role of ‘Zero-Responders’ during 7/7: Implications for the Emergency Services,” International Journal of Emergency Services 2, no. 2 (2013): 79–93.
3. P. Régnier et al., “From Emergency Relief to Livelihood Recovery: Lessons Learned from Post‐tsunami Experiences in Indonesia and India,” Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal 17, no. 3 (2008): 410–30.
4. A. Ripley, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why (London: Random House, 2008).