OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Disasters come in many forms, shapes and sizes – and one in particular is a large, wrecking ball of severe rainstorms with wind speeds that exceed 74 miles per hour. This adverse weather condition is a tropical cyclone, or typhoon, and annually between June and October, typhoon season makes its waves in the Western North Pacific.
For the Osan Air Base and the surrounding Korean Peninsula, being prepared to overcome typhoons while ensuring safety can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany the natural phenomenon. Fortunately, a special team of response and recovery crisis managers and weather forecasters keep the installation’s personnel and assets equipped to survive a storm.
“Preparedness and awareness are key for any [natural disasters] you may have to plan for,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steven Bravo, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of Emergency Management plans. “If you have the knowledge to be ready for natural disasters like this, you can store equipment like flashlights, food and survival items to plan ahead.”
Forecasting the future is no easy task, but for the 51st Operations Support Squadron weather flight, staying ahead of the curve equips Team Osan with storm updates before, during, and after a typhoon disaster strikes.
“A typhoon is a hurricane that forms in the Northwest Pacific,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Reed, 51st OSS weather officer. “The [storm’s] impact can potentially result in injuries and damaged property due to high wind speeds and flooding. With how large typhoons can get, you could look at the potential for wide-spread damage that could cause long power outages and transportation issues.
“We send typhoon forecast updates to base leaders as soon as possible,” Reed added. “This way, the base and [local populace] has enough time to prepare to minimize the damage, acquire non-perishables and necessities, and locate a safe area to evacuate to if needed.”
According to Bravo, the best actions military members can do is ensure accountability with their units and route up problems they may be experiencing. This will enable the emergency repair and emergency services to respond as necessary.
“[We encourage] base personnel to make sure they stay in touch with the most current information via Commanders Access Channel, Radio, and telephone recall access,” said Bravo. “They [should] keep all of their food and emergency equipment stocked up. MRE’s and other basic items that you would find in a 72-hour kit would also be useful in the event of a power outage during a storm of this scale.”
Although there are currently no definitive trends that indicate typhoon activity in or near the area, both the weather flight and EM will assess the warm water activity hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Ocean and East China Sea.
Throughout the year, EM will continue to offer informational handouts and briefings upon request. This information can help prepare individuals and their families for the worst to come. In an event such as natural disaster, they are responsible for helping direct resources and aid to where they need to be on installation. For additional preparedness activities, it’s encouraged to do the following:
Inventory emergency supplies.
Replace expired or used items.
Ensure you have adequate water for yourself and your family.
Check flashlights and batteries and ensure everything works.
Make sure gas tanks (car and house) are full.
Have accessibility to cash or traveler’s checks and change.