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Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Water Ways: Mid-Atlantic Maritime Communities

Agencies Keeping Waters Safe

Learn about the various groups and agencies working to keep America's waterways safe.

A wide range of agencies and organizations and thousands of individuals in the Mid-Atlantic region have the job of keeping the waters safe. The fishermen, boaters, river pilots, tugboat captains, and many other people who work or have fun on the water often rely on them for accurate and up-to-the-minute information. And when caught in dangerous situations, they seek aid from trained rescue teams.

The work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) includes drawing nautical charts, predicting coastal weather, and measuring the tides.

The Coast Guard and Navy use large rescue boats and helicopters to help vessels in distress. The Sail and Power Squadron offers boating safety courses and officiates at races and other events on the water. Interpreters at historic lighthouses, lightships, and lifesaving stations remind us how far water safety has come in the Mid-Atlantic over the past hundred and fifty years. And lifeguards like Reggie Jones, who began working at Jones Beach, Long Island, in the 1940s, can tell dramatic and timeless stories about saving the lives of swimmers.

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Hurricane Isabel at Hatteras, North Carolina. Chief Petty Officer Trey Loughridhe, safety and environmental health specialist with Atlantic Area Maintenance and Logistic Command carries a Danforth Anchor from one of the disaster response units used to shuttle federal and state employees to areas only accessible by boat to access damage to electrical lines and road damage in Hatteras, N.C. USCG photo by PA2 Dana Warr, courtesy the U.S. Coast Guard.