Slammed by Back-to-Back Category 5 Storms: Sector San Juan responds to hurricanes Irma and Maria

In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving more than $50 billion in damages in their wake and destroying Coast Guard facilities in Saint Thomas, San Juan, and Aguadilla. This article focuses on lessons and observations from the author's perspective as incident commander charged with leading more than 2,000 members of Team Coast Guard—active duty, civilian, Reserve, and Auxiliary—in response to the hurricanes. These lessons and observations include: knowing the team’s strengths and weaknesses; the need for accountability; the importance of authoritative communications; and prioritizing the return to normal operations as soon as possible. Leaders may be faced with many difficult decisions, but the culture of the Coast Guard's service, with its strong bias for action and ability to operate independently, will ultimately help ensure success during any crisis.


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  • Accession Number: 01767564
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 3 2021 10:42AM