Coast Guard Foundation Recognizes Sector Nola For Hurricane Ida Response
The Coast Guard Foundation held its annual tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District March 11 at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. During the event, the foundation honored Coast Guard Sector New Orleans for its response to Hurricane Ida, which made landfall near Port Fourchon, La., on August 29, 2021.
At landfall, Hurricane Ida had sustained winds of 150 mph. As the storm moved over the lakes and marshes of southeast Louisiana, it maintained its major hurricane status far inland, and its forward motion slowed to a crawl. Mariners aboard vessels on the Mississippi River endured hours of hurricane-force winds and waves, which grounded ships, towboats and barges alike. The storm also blew down transmission lines that cross the Mississippi River near Avondale, cutting power to the entire New Orleans metro area and closing the river to navigation. Power and water outages impacted more than a million residents.
After the storm passed, members of the Coast Guard took action, rescuing 12 people and assisting 412 others. They also responded to 11 major marine casualties after Ida and coordinated the region-wide response to close to 2,500 pollution cases, 273 damaged or destroyed vessels and 406 displaced aids to navigation.
Remarkably, through the coordinated and innovative response to the downed power lines across the Mississippi River, the Coast Guard was able to partially reopen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to commercial navigation only three days after the storm. The river was fully opened in less than a week.
In a video screened during the event, Sector New Orleans Commander Capt. Will Watson said he was proud of his team, especially considering that the homes of many Coast Guard members had incurred damage in the storm.
“The thing that was so impressive about the Coast Guard men and women of Sector New Orleans and all those who came in to support us from around the country, and especially our folks here in the region, these folks were impacted as well,” Watson said. “Their homes were destroyed. Their homes were damaged. Young folks whose apartment complexes where they lived were condemned. And still, amidst all of it, they were dedicated in driving ahead because they knew we had a larger responsibility. I love that about serving with this team.”
That type of committed and focused response, despite personal circumstances, is exactly what’s expected of members of the Coast Guard, said Rear Adm. Richard Timme, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District.
“The commandant expects us to lead in crisis as part of what we do with delivering mission excellence, anytime, anywhere, under his guiding principles,” Timme said. “And leading in crisis is what this team did. They were hardened professionals after three really hard hurricane seasons, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this team.”
During the event, the Coast Guard Foundation also honored the memory of Otto Candies Jr., who died in February 2021. Candies, a foundation board member and maritime industry legend, founded the Coast Guard Foundation’s New Orleans event along with fellow board member Boysie Bollinger, another Louisiana maritime legend. Since the first New Orleans event in 1994, the Coast Guard Foundation New Orleans dinner has raised more than $9 million. The event this year raised $770,000, with proceeds going to assist Coast Guard members and families nationwide.
“When you assist people during the most difficult times in their lives, either after a death or after witnessing their homes being destroyed, you can’t help but be transformed by the experience,” Coast Guard Foundation President Susan Ludwig said. “We take our jobs seriously and our support personally.”