As this issue of Oceanography was being finalized, the ocean delivered two catastrophic punches to the United States Gulf Coast. Within a three-week period, two major hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, slammed ashore with 100+ mile an hour winds and unprecedented tidal surges. For those of us watching the disaster and aftermath unfold through the news media and through accounts from friends and relatives, the scope of the damage and the socioeconomic impacts are impossible to comprehend. Like everyone else, the oceanographic community was heavily impacted. Several coastal marine laboratories and field stations were destroyed or heavily damaged; aquariums and other educational facilities are total losses. It has been reported that about 40 percent of the Naval Oceanographic Office/Naval Research Laboratory employees located at Stennis Space Center (in Mississippi, approximately 45 miles from New Orleans) either lost their houses or are facing many months of reconstruction before they are habitable. Many of our colleagues have been dispersed across the country with family or friends or remain in hotels. As a consequence, concern has been expressed that expertise may be lost if employees decide to move elsewhere permanently. Time will tell what the long-term social and economic impacts will be and what the human and natural systems recovery will look like.