U.S. Coast Guard Oral History Program
Katrina Archival & Historical Record Team (KART)
Hurricane Katrina, 2005Interviewee: LCDR Shannon Gilreath, USCG
Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge
Interviewer: Not MentionedDate of Interview: 17 October 2005Place: Sector New OrleansAbstract:
LCDR Gilreath was deployed to Zephyr Field after three of his crews had already been deployedto New Orleans. He served as the Coast Guard representative for the Unified Command. Therewere approximately 600 people operating from Zephyr Field; of these 600, approximately 60 to 65were Coast Guardsmen. When Gilreath arrived, SAR operations had been temporarily suspendeddue to reports of shots being fired at law enforcement officials and rescuers. The UnifiedCommand had two principle players, the Coast Guard and FEMA. According to Gilreath, bySeptember 8, more than 12,000 people had been evacuated from Zephyr Field. He said that hewould not be surprised if that number reached 13,000 because the FEMA report did not cover theCoast Guard numbers for the first several days.For Gilreath, the biggest challenge was logistics. He had never been involved with an operationwhere he had to build everything from scratch. “If you did not bring it with you, you did not have it.” Ittook a week before supplies started to reach them. The other challenge was communications.Communication was extremely difficult. Phone lines were jammed, cell phones were not working,and the satellite phones were undependable. The only complaint that he heard from the CoastGuardsmen was that they wanted to do more.Quote: “They gave 100 % everyday.”
Okay, could you please state your first name, your last name, and spell your last name out?
First name is Shannon, last name is Gilreath, and that’s spelled G-I-L-R-E-A-T-H.
And your rank in the Coast Guard?
8/31/2010Katrina Oral History: LCDR Shannon Gil…uscg.mil/…/GilreathShannonoralhistory…1/22