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Deadly storm season under way

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2006-06-02

In Greek, it means whirlwind, in Arabic it’s deluge, Mandarin Chinese defines it as a great wind.

The name typhoon has evolved from southern Europe, across Arabia to India, where in 1588 it was first cast in English. It was spawned from a severe storm that ravaged India, leading officials to merge the Greek and Chinese ideas into the word that today often means severe death and destruction in Asia.

The typhoon season begins June 1st, and Okinawa’s bracing for what forecasters term an ‘active year ahead’. Twenty-one storms were logged last year following a record-tying 28 in 2004. The 2004 season brought 13 to Okinawa, or close enough that residents felt the impact.

The season’s first storm didn’t even have enough patience to wait for the season’s start. Typhoon Chanchu, a name selected by Macau’s government in the storm names lottery, jumped the starting gate May 9th for an 11-day run that killed nearly 100 and has left hundreds of Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen still missing.

Okinawa operates on a Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness through the end of November. Each of the four TCCOR categories and sub-categories has specific requirements and restrictions on service members and the military bases.

TCCOR 4: Okinawa remains in this state throughout the season. Destructive winds of 58mph or greater are possible within 72 hours.

TCCOR 3: Destructive winds of 58mph or greater are possible in the area within 48 hours.

TCCOR 2: Destructive winds of 58mph or greater are anticipated within 24 hours.

TCCOR 1: Destructive winds of 58mph or greater are anticipated within 12 hours.

Shortly before a typhoon strikes Okinawa, the military will declare TCCOR 1-E (Emergency), meaning that all nonessential personnel go indoors and remain until the storm has passed and the all-clear is issued. Once that happens, the military puts the island in TCCOR 1-R (Recovery), which allows some restricted personnel movement.

Preparations for typhoons are being encouraged now, including cleanups around residences and dormitories, and gathering stocks of emergency supplies. The Defense Commissary Agency is encouraging customers to “load up their pantries” as part of an awareness campaign encouraging families to keep nonperishable foods, water and other necessities on hand for emergencies. DeCA is teamed with the American Red Cross’ Armed Forces Emergency Services Branch in the “What’s In Your Closet” campaign.

Kadena Commissary store director Al Zimmer says “customers will see posters and handouts in the store, and reminder buttons on employees.” Patrick Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director of the Defense Commissary Agency says “we want to raise awareness of the need to keep emergency supplies on hand, and that shoppers can save 30% on more by using their
commissary benefit.”

The American Red Cross has representatives at commissaries across the island to provide information and answer questions about disaster preparedness.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are both working closely with local communities and relief organizations to remind residents to make emergency preparations.

A seven-day emergency supplies closet is recommended by officials. Stocking these items will protect families during a typhoon, when power of frequently off and water supplies contaminated:
Canned meats, fruits and vegetables High-energy foods such as nuts, raisins and granola
Infant/baby food and supplies.

Pet food
Non-perishable food
Over-the-counter medications
Garbage bags
Water (at least one gallon per person daily)
Manual can opener
Matches in waterproof container
Candles and charcoal
Toilet paper and towelettes
Soap, detergent, disinfectant / bleach
Personal hygiene items
Paper cuts and plates, plastic utensils
First aid kit
Hand sanitizer
Plastic storage containers

Battery-operated radio, extra clothing, blankets, prescriptions, money (coins and paper money), eyeglasses and important documents should also be stored with the emergency supplies.

Typhoons and severe storm information will be disseminated on American Forces Radio and Television, and posted on Kadena’s weather website.

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