Coast Guard crew talks about responding to three hurricanes

PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — The Coast Guard Cutter Forward is back home in Portsmouth after spending the last two months responding to three hurricanes.

The crew of about 100 went to Texas to after Hurricane Harvey then to Florida after Hurricane Irma, and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Commander Stephen Adler told WAVY.com, “We learned each and every time and we got better and better which was great under these circumstances because each storm seemed to have more and more devastation with it.”

They didn’t meet many of the victims face-to-face, and much of their help was behind the scenes. The Forward became a refueling platform for search and rescue helicopters in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

When Irma made a beeline for Florida, the Forward moved full steam around Cuba to get to the Keys.

They aided in helicopter search and rescues missions, offloaded thousands of bottles of water and thousands of pounds of food and helped to reopen ports. They were the first federal maritime responders to arrive in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria.

“It was hard … it was so hard consistently changing our plans, consistently finding other things to do, but I think we handled it very well,” BM2 Daniel Thompson said.

If nothing else, it taught him to be flexible and to appreciate home.

“You don’t realize the sacrifices that you make when you’re doing it but once you get back and you have good toilet paper a long shower, your own bed.”