Coast Guard Responding in Wake of Hurricane Fiona

MIAMI — Personnel from the Seventh Coast Guard District in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, Monday.

Crews from Coast Guard Sector San Juan and Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen conducted initial storm damage assessments throughout the region, and are prepared to support urgent search and rescue needs. Fast Response Cutter crews conducted storm avoidance to prevent damage in-port by heading out to sea, and returned to San Juan today for fuel and logistics before resuming patrol missions.

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The Coast Guard set Port Condition FOUR , opening the maritime ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the maritime ports of Arecibo, Ceiba, Culebra, Fajardo, San Juan, Vieques and Yabucoa in Puerto Rico following the passing of Hurricane Fiona. The Port of San Juan is restricted to conducting daylight operations only until further notice. All other seaports in Puerto Rico remain closed under Port Condition ZULU until further notice, including:

  • Guanica
  • Guayama/Las Mareas
  • Guayanilla
  • Mayagüez
  • Ponce
  • Salinas/Aguirre
  • Tallaboa

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During Port Condition FOUR, port facilities are open to all commercial vessel traffic and cargo operations may resume, including bunkering and lightering. All mariners are advised to use caution due to floating debris and report any abnormalities to the Coast Guard.

During Port Condition ZULU, the port is closed to all commercial traffic except for traffic specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port. Port cargo operations are suspended, including bunkering and lightering until further notice.

Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.

As Fiona continues to travel through the Caribbean islands and into the Atlantic, the Coast Guard is reminding the public of these important safety messages and warnings:

  • Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories. 
  • Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.
  • Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and divert valuable search and rescue resources to ensure people are not in distress.
  • Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
  • Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at Ready.gov.
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

People in distress should use 911 to request assistance whenever possible, or VHF radio channel 16 for mariners. Social media should not be used to report distress.

For information on Hurricane Fiona’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.

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