Reporting Lauren Leamanczyk
SANDWICH (CBS) – As Isaac barrels down on the Gulf Coast, members of the Coast Guard based in Cape Cod are on standby.
Lt. Commander Marty Simpson is watching Isaac closely because he was one of the rescue crews who responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“I’ve worked lots of hurricanes since I’ve been in the Coast Guard but nothing that caused the kind of devastation Katrina caused,” he said.
Simpson was based in Mobile, Alabama at the time. He was one of the first helicopters to fly over the flooded wasteland. He saw images he will never forget.
“It’s a scary thing to see that many people on rooftops with that desperate look on their face like they didn’t know what happened and they didn’t know how they were going to get off this rooftop,” he recalls.
For weeks, Simpson and his Coast Guard colleagues pulled victims from roofs, at times even using an ax to get into homes.
It was a mission unlike any the Coast Guard had faced before. Now as Simpson watches Isaac, he wonders if he’ll have to do it all over again.
“The thing that scares me the most about this particular storm is how slow it is and how big it is,” he told WBZ-TV. “The fear of the city flooding again is always something that’s going to concern me. Since Katrina I’ll always think about that.”
Simpson says he is ready to go if needed again. Though he never wants to see a repeat of the devastation Katrina inflicted, he knows it made the Coast Guard ready for whatever Isaac brings.
“We’ve done Katrina, we’ve had that experience as an organization. I think the Coast Guard will be ready. I think we’ll be better.”