U.S. Coast Guard Completes 150-Plus Rescues After Hurricane Ian

damage survey
Hurricane Ian damage survey, September 29 (USCG)

Published Sep 30, 2022 6:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard has saved over 150 people and more than 50 pets in its post-storm response to Hurricane Ian, Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan said Friday. 

Hurricane Ian came ashore near Fort Myers, Florida as a high-Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, devastating the barrier islands along the coast and causing widespread damage to the metropolitan area. The area surrounding Fort Myers is still without power and at least 21 fatalities have been reported as the response and recovery effort gets under way. 

Helicopter aircrews and small-boat crews have been active along the waterlogged coastline, rescuing residents from flooding and surveying the damage for disaster-response planners. 

One survivor was hoisted off of a cabin cruiser which had been blown hundreds of yards into a mangrove forest, above (USCG)

Among other SAR operations, the Coast Guard responded to at least seven migrant craft in distress off Florida during the hurricane's passage, including one sinking incident in which 16 people are still missing and at least two are deceased. 

"Taking to the sea any time carries significant risk, taking to the sea during a hurricane is flat out reckless," said Capt. Robert Kinsey, Coast Guard District Seven.

Coast Guard crews are also working to locate and fix displaced or missing ATON so that harbors can safely reopen for commercial navigation. The Port of Key West has been restored to service after the local ATON team corrected the main ship channel buoys, which had been blown more than 100 yards off station. 

After hitting the southwest coast, Hurricane Ian continued across central Florida and over Orlando, weakening to a tropical storm but dumping a tremendous quantity of rain. Moving out over the Atlantic, it re-strengthened again and took aim at the coast of South Carolina. It made landfall for a second time as a Category 1 storm near Geeorgetown, bringing a dangerous storm surge and winds of 85 mile an hour. Over 200,000 people have lost power across the state. Charleston saw extensive flooding when high tide coincided with heavy storm surge. 

Ports along the hurricane's path closed in advance of the storm, but some have begun to reopen, including Port Canaveral and Jaxport, which are open to commercial navigation in daylight hours. The port of Brunswick, Georgia has also reopened with restrictions.