Tried and tested are the words used by a captain in the U.S. Coast Guard to describe Tyler as a safe harbor for the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Port Arthur.
Coast Guard Capt. Randal Ogrydziak, commanding officer of the unit, said Tyler was chosen shortly after Hurricane Rita in 2005 as a safe place to move the command in the event of a hurricane strike on the eastern coast of Texas.
A small contingency of the unit went over plans to move 1,000 of the unit’s men and women, along with their dependents, to safety n the ballroom of the Magnuson Tyler Hotel on Thursday.
“We’re setting up our command post to work out the bugs in the event that we have a big storm such as a hurricane that comes through the Gulf Coast. We would move our command and control center from Port Arthur to get out of the strike zone,” the commander said.
Ogrydziak said a small contingency would be left behind to begin clearing the harbor and waterways once the storm passed and would be under the command of those stationed in Tyler.
Ogrydziak said during hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, the entire unit moved to Tyler or surrounding areas and it worked well.
“It’s a great place for us logistically and the people are so friendly here,” he said.
Hotel owner Kevin Carlyle said an agreement was made with the Coast Guard to use his facility as a command center.
“We are glad to do that. We’re one of the only properties in the area that could facilitate them, “he said.
Ogrydziak said the drill was an annual event and would only last one day.
“We will head back home tomorrow before the holiday rush,” he said.