Coast Guard assists more than 77 in Chesapeake storm

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The Coast Guard responded to 37 distress calls with more than 77 people assisted or rescued after a severe thunderstorm developed Sunday afternoon in Chesapeake Bay.

At 3:05 p.m., the National Weather Service radar indicated a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing winds in excess of 70 mph. A marine broadcast was issued to notify mariners to seek shelter. At approximately 3:25 p.m., Sector Baltimore watchstanders received the first call that vessels were being affected by the storm. Within minutes, multiple calls came in to the command center.

Within a two-hour period, eight Coast Guard response crews from six small-boat stations began responding to the distress calls.

"I have been working this job for more than five years, and I have never seen this happen before," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Stanley, a search-and-rescue coordinator at Sector Baltimore.

"In one case we literally had victims clinging to a buoy for life," said Chief Petty Officer Keith Moore, an operations specialist at Sector Baltimore.