ST. LOUIS -- More than 4,000 people have been rescued off of rooftops and flooded neighborhoods since rescue operations began Monday, and joint-agency rescue operations are continuing through the day and night.
The Coast Guard’s primary focus along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coast will remain search and rescue as long as necessary. The Coast Guard has also set up a Web site where people who are still in need of rescue, or for those who know of someone in need, can submit information at http://homeport.uscg.mil. People should also contact their state emergency operation centers are (225) 925-7707/7709/3511/7412.
Coast Guard assets continue to arrive in the impacted areas. There are 25 cutters off the Gulf Coast, in the rivers, and in the ports and waterways. The Coast Guard cutters Pelican, Cypress and Spencer are currently transiting the Mississippi River to New Orleans to establish a command and control presence and provide a flight deck, fuel and communications to the search and rescue assets in and around New Orleans.
Thirty-five aircraft and hundreds of air crew personnel are in the area from Coast Guard air stations as far away as Barbers Point, Hawaii, and Cape Cod, Mass. Coast Guard C-130s are en route to Air Station New Orleans with additional fuel supplies.
Coast Guard Auxiliary members have responded and are supporting the Coast Guard incident management team. The Coast Guard is contacting its Auxiliary divisions throughout the area to ask for help with post-hurricane recovery operations. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a volunteer force with over 35,000 members nationwide.
Many other federal and local government assets are already in the area or being sent there, including FEMA urban search and rescue teams, incident management teams, disaster assistance and response teams, maritime safety and security teams, marine safety response teams, critical incident stress management teams.
There have not been any confirmed reports of casualties to Coast Guard members, but due to communications difficulties some Coast Guard personnel have not been accounted for. The Coast Guard has established phone numbers for Coast Guard personnel and dependents affected by the hurricane. The numbers are (314) 539-3900, extensions 2337/2338/2340. Family members looking for Coast Guardsmen should call (314) 539-3900, extension 2340.
The Coast Guard understands members of the public are also looking for information on their loved ones, but asks that these phone lines be used only for the thousands of Coast Guard personnel affected so they can help their families get the care and support they need while they are working to assist in post-hurricane response and recovery.
The American Red Cross is attempting to help connect families, and can be reached at (866) 438-4636 or (866) GET INFO. Due to the tremendous volume of calls, and associated difficulties with phone lines, you can visit or contact your local Red Cross chapter.
The Coast Guard anticipates significant waterways management and environmental clean-up operations.
Most Gulf ports remain closed. However, joint-agency surveys of the ports, waterways and rivers are underway. There are approximately 86 vessels awaiting transit to or through the Port of New Orleans. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana, Red River, Atchafalya, and Ouatchita Rivers has been opened in some areas. More than 100 barges have reportedly sunk, or are aground south of New Orleans, and the majority of buoys and other kinds of navigational markers are off station throughout the Gulf Coast.
Ports of New Orleans, Gulfport, Pascagoula, and Destin/Panama City are closed. The ports of Pensacola and Mobile are open only to vessels with a 12-foot draft or less.
The Intracoastal Waterway is open from the Mobile Ship Channel east to Apalachicola, Fla., and closed from the Mobile Ship Channel west to Pass Christian, Miss.
The Mississippi River is closed to deep draft traffic and open to tug and barge traffic only from Sea Buoy to Mile Marker 507. Deep draft vessels may move within anchorages if they have pilots on board.
All bridges, floodgates, and locks are closed in the vicinity of the Port of New Orleans.
The Red River is open from Carr Point, La. to Alexandria, La. The Athchafalya River is open from Eugene Island Sea Buoy to Krotz Springs. The Port Allen Route is open from Baton Rouge to the Port Allen Lock. The Ouachita/Black River is open from Jonesville to Shreveport. The railroad Bridge across Delcambre Canal is open. Vessels may transit Louisiana Highway in Delcambre.