With the holiday season in full swing, we are filled with gratitude and appreciation for you and your support of Coast Guard families impacted by the recent natural disasters through our Disaster Relief and Response Fund.
From the outset, we recognized this is a long-term assistance project. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we quickly assessed and issued support to Coast Guard members in Texas with personal property damage, catastrophic loss, and immediate needs for housing, food and transportation.
Once Hurricane Irma struck Florida and the Caribbean, and Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, our response pivoted to assisting Coast Guard families that were evacuated from their homes, to new temporary housing in Florida. While some have returned to their homes and are addressing their cleanup and rebuilding efforts, many more remain displaced, living in temporary housing, while their Coast Guard spouses are still deployed to the hurricane-ravaged areas.
For these families, they have needed to establish a new sense of normalcy; enrolling their children in local schools, establishing support systems for child care, and seeking temporary employment when possible. It has not been an easy task - one Coast Guard spouse who has received our support has a five week old newborn - but as we have come to see with the Coast Guard family, they are resilient and thankful for their safety and security, even in unexpected locations and situations.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, we organized a special gathering for families who are living in temporary housing in a central Florida community so they may still celebrate the holidays as a community.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your generous support of the Coast Guard Foundation. It is your care and compassion that has made a significant difference for these Coast Guard families.
We are in this for the long haul, and will continue to assess and respond to Coast Guard members’ needs -- together, we are helping families recover and rebuild. Thank you.
Susan P. Ludwig