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Typhoon preparation: a continuous activity

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Brian Bahret
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
In a region where tropical storms can strike with as little as 72-hour's notice year round, Andersen leadership used a town hall meeting at the base theater Monday as a platform to urge Team Andersen to take every threat seriously.
"A lot of times, you'll get hit by more warnings than you'll get hit by storms," said Lt. Col. Peter Ridilla, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "So you get someone who says 'The last time I did all this work, the typhoon didn't hit us so I'm not going to do it this time because it's following the same track it did last time.' Or, 'this is three times already and it isn't that bad.'"
In March, Andersen reacted to a Typhoon that turned away from Guam at the last minute. The base took all precautions necessary and fortunately no damage was done. The danger is in being lulled into complacency by numerous warnings that don't pan out like the storm in May, he said.
"My fear is that people will not take this seriously the next time," said Brig. Gen. Doug Owens, 36th Wing commander. "They'll just wait to see what happens. I can't do business that way. We will make our decisions in time for everyone to prepare. You do not get to decide when you are going to prepare and how you're going to prepare. I make that decision. You follow the rules."
What keeps people safe is treating each threat as if it's going to strike Andersen with full force.
"When we have a typhoon warning, you have to prepare for every typhoon as if it were a super typhoon," said Colonel Ridilla. "One thing we don't need is the amateur meteorologist going out to the website and saying 'this one is not going to be strong, so I don't have to do anything.'"
The truth is no one can predict with 100-percent certainty where a typhoon will strike, he said.
"Our conditions are very favorable for producing typhoons," he said adding that August through November is the peak of the typhoon season. But he added that typhoons may strike year round - that's why Guam remains in tropical cyclone condition of readiness-4, or TCCOR-4, all year.
Since Andersen is in a constant state of TCCOR-4, there are certain precautions every Team Andersen member should complete immediately and not wait for a storm to approach.
· Develop a stock of emergency supplies that will last for one to two weeks
· Learn how to operate storm shutters
· Learn how to operate generators and hook it up to the house
"You don't want to do this preparation during TCCOR-3 and TCCOR-2, you want to do it as soon as possible," said Colonel Ridilla.
TCCOR-3 is the first indication that a typhoon is coming toward Guam, said Colonel Ridilla. For dependents, that means the military member is at work preparing the base for the storm leaving the spouse at home to prepare the house and secure outdoor objects, he added.
Preparation in this stage is critical to the safety of all the personnel and facilities on base.
"This is absolutely critical to how the base will ride out the storm," he said. "Every piece of debris that is not picked up could become a potential flying object."
At home, people should secure their pools, take down any outdoor canopies and trampolines, and remove or secure any other debris that is outdoors.
TCCOR-2 is when the storm is 24-hours out. Fill extra containers with water such as your bathtub and washer. Turn your freezer as cold as you can get it. Also, this is when you want to secure your storm shutters. Park your car in a protected area. Expectant mothers may be transported to Navy for the duration of the storm. Additionally, Andersen schools are closed.
TCCOR-1 Caution means the storm is within 12 hours. This is the time where everyone should head home.
TCCOR-1 Emergency means the storm has arrived. Colonel Ridilla said base residents should remain inside for the duration of the storm. Don't go out to turn on the generator.
TCOR-1 Recovery is the time for emergency response personnel to go out around base and look for hazards. Again, residents should remain inside. It's not the time for you to go out in your yard and begin cleaning. The extent of damage is generally unknown.
From TCCOR-1E to TCCOR-1R 24-48 hours could elapse depending on the storms movement.
"When we return to TCCOR-4, you can go outside," said Colonel Ridilla. "This is the time to report damage to housing maintenance."
For base residents, cable channel 70 is a great source of information leading up to the storm, he said. Off base, residents should monitor local television and radio stations. If power is out use a battery powered radio and tune in to one of the local radio stations.
"You have to be ready for the worst out here," said General Owens. "If you do that and we come out on the good end of it, we're all in great shape. If we don't and we get hit with a super typhoon and we have people killed and major damage to this base, we have nobody to blame but ourselves."

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