Coast Guard Starts Its Watch for Irene - NECN

Coast Guard Starts Its Watch for Irene



    (NECN: Josh Brogadir) - The Coast Guard was kind enough to let us tag along on a training mission on this H-60 Jayhawk helicopter, two days before Hurricane Irene arrives.

    "The winds are out of the South at about 10 knots, and the skies are clear, just a few scattered clouds up around 2000 feet, at least 10 miles of visibility," said co-pilot Lieutenant Ray Jamros.

    Get a good look now - this coastline could soon change.

    And the Coast Guard is focusing on what's to come.

    "The mariners that are really far off shore, those are the ones we have to worry about," said pilot Lieutenant Mike Feltovic.

    "Every single day this is how the cabin is configured for our aircraft," said flight mechanic, Petty Officer Jeff Brundage.

    But this is not like every other day as this crew of three knows, watching as fishing boats make their way to coastal ports.

    Eight hundred feet above the water right now, that is a hurricane barrier protecting New Bedford Harbor, many boats going in, some coming out right now but many more will go in as Hurricane Irene approaches.

    With two days to go, the seas are relatively calm off the coast of Newport.

    Same goes for the waters elsewhere around Rhode Island.

    Another city with a hurricane barrier: Providence. Down below you can see that was built after Hurricane Carol in 1954. There was 12 feet of water in the city of Providence. This time around with Hurricane Irene, they'll be ready.

    The crew joked that it would be a lot easier getting off Cape if there was a hurricane every weekend.

    It was quiet by the Bourne Bridge.

    When we got to the Sagamore Bridge, we saw the backup along Route 6 heading off Cape, many people heeding the warnings.

    People staying behind - and those evacuating the coast - have boarded up their homes - the Kennedys among them at the compound in Hyannisport.

    Hundreds of seals off the coast of Chatham enjoyed the sun - before it turns to wind and rain.

    On the Bay side beaches, it was a great day for swimmers - but it all changes this weekend.

    No matter how many times you remind them, there will still be people who like to venture out in unsafe weather conditions.

    And that will keep this crew busy the next few days.

    "We have a number of crews on standby that are just going to be sleeping and staying at the air station. If there's any search and rescue whether it be a medical evacuation off a fishing boat or someone gets injured on one of the islands," Lieut. Feltovic said.

    Other Coast Guardsmen are in falcon jets, they are out farther into the water telling mariners about the expected path of Irene before it reaches New England.