The Coast Guard has been responding to natural disasters including tropical cyclones (mainly Atlantic hurricanes) for decades. Its expertise in search and rescue (SAR) makes it an ideal agency to assist. However, recent storms have required truly monumental efforts, with 2017 being a defining moment. In that year, operational and infrastructure costs from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria totaled nearly $1 billion for the Coast Guard alone. Climate data suggest similar weather events are on the rise and could make 2017 a norm rather than an exception. The Coast Guard will and should continue to respond, but enhanced training to increase efficiency and safety will be required. With a stagnant service size and growing responsibility to respond to hurricanes and related weather events, the Coast Guard must do all it can to optimize and become more proficient in their efforts.
Hurricanes: The Coast Guard’s Growing Responsibility
By Lieutenant Noah Miller, U.S. Coast Guard