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Gulf Coast Coast Guard units prepare for Hurricane Ida
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The Police News
Nov 8th, 2009 by cgnews.

NEW ORLEANS - Coast Guard units from Louisiana to Florida are preparing to ensure search and rescue, environmental response, and recovery of the ports and waterways missions are met as Hurricane Ida approaches. Personnel, aircraft and vessels needed to conduct day-to-day operations as well as to respond to Ida have been moved out of the strike zone to ensure continuity of service and to ensure that personnel and equipment are ready to be brought back into affected areas quickly.

Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Teams Venice and Dulac, La., have been evacuated in preparation for the storm, as well as Coast Guard Station Grand Isle, La. No evacuations of Coast Guard units have been ordered in the Mobile, Ala., region at this time.

Coast Guard Captains of the Port for New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., have set Port Conditions Whiskey and X-Ray for their respective areas of responsibility. Port ConditionWhiskey is a heightened condition of readiness and is established when gale force winds are expected in 72 hours, while Condition X-Ray represents a hurricane "watch" condition of readiness and is established when gale force winds are predicted within 48 hours. These conditions are established to provide the maritime community time to make preparations in order to minimize damage from heavy weather. Additional port conditions include Yankee, when gale force winds are predicted to arrive within 24 hours; and Zulu at 12 hours. Captains of the Port may accelerate of delay setting these conditions as appropriate.

In New Orleans, the Port of Plaquemines and the Port of St. Bernard are under Port Condition Whiskey. Port Condition Whiskey requirements are outlined in the Sector New Orleans Maritime Hurricane Contigency Port Plan and can be found at http://homeport.uscg.mil/nola.

In Mobile, Ala., all waterways from mile marker 40 to 432 of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to include the ports of Gulfport, Miss.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; and Panama City, Fla. are under Port Condition X-Ray and must take appropriate actions in preperation of Ida. More information and specific guidelines can be found at http://homeport.uscg.mil/mobile.

The Coast Guard has also outlined a plan with other federal, state and local government agencies and industry partners for post storm waterways surveys to expedite the safe re-opening of critical waterways, if necessary.

The Coast Guard reminds the public to keep a close watch on the storm as it approaches, pay attention to safety announcements from the government, and to listen to any evacuation notices that are given. In an effort to ensure mariners of different nationalities are properly notified of impending severe weather, Coast Guard units have been broadcasting weather notices in three languages: English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The maritime community and boating public are strongly urged to track the storm's progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels. Extremely high seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that accompany tropical storms and hurricanes present serious dangers to mariners.

Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other agencies may be limited or unavailable immediately before, during and after a devastating storm.

Dangerous weather conditions generated by a tropical storm can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even those recreational boaters and the maritime industry that fall outside of the direct path of the storm are advised to be aware of dangerous weather conditions and take appropriate precaustions to stay safe and minimize damage.

Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:

Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if you know a tropical storm is approaching.
Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your vessel. Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods for securing your boat.
Take action now. The effects of a tropical storm can be felt well in advance of the storm itself and can prevent the safe completion of preparations.
Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area. Do not rush to your boat. Boaters whould not place themselves in danger to get to a boat.
Do not try to reach your boat if it has been forced into the water and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available. Do not try to board a partially sunken boat; seek salvage assistance from a professional.
Storms move quickly and are unpredictable. You can always replace a boat; you cannot replace a life.

A public information site has been created and can be found at: www.piersystem.com/go/site/2507.

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