RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — With so many people and groups looking to lend a helping hand, the U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary is wanting to get its message out: think hard about critical details before heading over there.
“Not only will there be no gas but there’s no lodging, no food, no electricity, there’s probably very limited cell coverage,” says Chris Haarer, the division 5 commander for USCG Auxiliary.
Haarer says the number of people wanting to help victims of Hurricane Dorian is remarkable, but it’s just as important you don’t become a rescue case yourself.
“We certainly would like to discourage this and have everyone think ahead, just think about all the destruction that’s taken place, and what’s not available to the general citizen as they go over there,” Haarer says.
On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard released important information about what their crews have seen since beginning rescue missions. They report a high risk of debris in the water, sunken vessels and destroyed or missing aids to navigation and pier facilities. They also warn about the risk of chemical spills and topography in ports and marinas from the storm surge of the hurricane.
“We can’t stop people from going out there to do this but we certainly would like to discourage this,” Haarer says.
They ask you to answer important questions such as:
- Have you made the trip before?
- Do you have a float plan? Who is it left with?
- Do you have lifesaving safety equipment on board such as EPIRB, life jackets, flares, marine radio, food and water?
- Do you have a contact in the Bahamas?
- Do you have enough gas to return?
If you can’t answer all of these questions, officials ask you instead donate to a reputable organization providing relief instead.
The USCG Auxiliary also says they are increasing inspections for boats coming into inlets along the coast of Florida. They are checking for people illegally bringing back Bahamians without proper documentation.