Despite hurricane damage, U.S. Coast Guard Station Tybee still o - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Despite hurricane damage, U.S. Coast Guard Station Tybee still operational

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Weeks after Hurricane Matthew, we're finally getting the first glimpses of damage done to U.S. Coast Guard Station Tybee.

Coast Guard crews have spent weeks making what repairs they can, but there's still a lot of work to do.

Chief Warrant Officer Lee Heitner said knowing Coastal Georgia was in the cross hairs of Matthew, left a lot of uncertainty what condition the station was going to be in when they got back. 

"You kind of have to come back expecting complete destruction," Heitner said. 

It wasn't complete destruction, but certainly some heavy damage that's now affecting where they can dock their boats.

Heitner pointed out one of the stations damaged docks and said, "Just like the other floating pier, this dock came all the way up over above these pilings. You can see right here how the dock was only kept in place by smashing on the bottom of this framework right here."

Given how high the floating dock was lifted up, the Chief Warrant Officer estimates the storm surge was around 15 feet to 18 feet during the peak of the storm. Ninety-five mile-per-hour winds tore off sections of the roof to the main building, and water poured in damaging the second and first-floor interior.

"The second floor we're saying is uninhabitable. That's normally the berthing area for the ready crews and the other personnel housing areas. So that will be a long-term fix," said Heitner. 

For the foreseeable future, these FEMA-provided trailers are now the living quarters for the Coast Guard crew members.

"What's ultimately going to happen is we're going to have to determine if it is feasible to repair, or this will be a complete recapitalization and a complete rebuild," Heitner explained.

A completely new facility or significant repairs would require supplemental funding from Congress. The determination of which is needed could take six to 12 months and to complete the work to get the facility back to 100 percent, as long as five years.

Despite the cutter, the Chinook, normally at the station being moored up the river because of the damaged docks, the crews of Coast Guard Station Tybee are still able to respond to a call at a moment's notice. 

"Including right after the storm, we were 100 percent operational. We're still able to perform every mission that we're supposed to, and we're still 100 percent capable in the northern Georgia and southern South Carolina areas."

There's still no dollar amount on the damage done by Hurricane Matthew at the station. The chief warrant officer did add no vessels were damaged in the storm. 

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