Typhoon Preparedness for Okinawa

CONTRIBUTED BY AVIVA BOWMAN

As a four-year veteran of Okinawa, I’ve been through a couple of typhoons, the worst of which was Man-Yi in 2007. It was a near direct hit by a category 4, sustained wind speeds were over 100mph (that’s not gusts, that’s sustained). At the time, people weren’t really prepping much because there hadn’t been one that bad and that close since Etau in 2003. And since most weren’t living here then, they didn’t take it all that seriously. Well – Mother Nature is not to be trifled with.  Here’s a satellite image of the arrival of Man-Yi:

Man Yi
Man Yi

Bottom line, it’s very important to be prepared for these storms (that ARE different from hurricanes in the Eastern US).  So here are a
 few helpful things and links for you all:

  • Please know, our homes are noisy during the storms, but they’re engineered like bunkers to withstand this! Likelihood is, the place you’re living has already been through a nasty one. If you stay inside, you will be safe.
  • Before it’s too late, charge your cell phones. You probably don’t have a corded phone in the house (though if you do, that’s GREAT), so if the power’s out – you have no phone.
  • Charge up your Nintendo DS, PSP, Game Boy, iPod, iPad, laptops, Kindle – whatever – for the kiddos and yourself. At the same time, shut down and unplug your computer and TV to protect against power surges. Or if you lose power, unplug everything important. (You should have a surge protector on these items anyway… hint hint.)
  • You do not want to even be in the parking lot of the Commissary/PX/BX when a typhoon is coming, so make this collection ASAP – go out in town for what you can. (Great list here)
  • Make a typhoon area in your home with
: Emergency candles & lighter
, Bottled water (they say 1 gallon per person per day and also fill your bathtub), Batteries (for everything)
, Battery-powered radio
 and Flashlights. Paper plates, cups, plasticware (you may not be able to wash dishes), 
Canned food & non-perishables. But be realistic — I’ve never heard of people being stuck inside for more than about two days, you don’t need to buy enough Spam to last a week! But I like the excuse to buy munchie foods. and some fun junk. Also have a manual can-opener (sounds silly, but how ya gonna open that tuna with an electric one if the power’s out?)
. And keep in mind that typhoons are LOUD and scary for small ones. Our daughter slept in our room on an air mattress because it was so loud in her room, so have some camping gear around just in case.
 If you have a small child, plenty of diapers, food and wipes. And if you have a pet, plenty of food & supplies — might even be a good idea to get a few piddle pads as the pooch is NOT going to want to go out.
  • If one’s coming, make a bunch of ice & put it in a cooler. It’s HOT here and when the power goes out and there’s no A/C, it’s nice to have some ice and ice-cold drinks. And store things you may want to eat in the cooler too – if power goes out, you don’t want to open the refrigerator. Another great way to prep is run all the A/Cs on full blast and lower the temp in your fridge in case you lose power, maybe it’ll stay cool for a bit longer.
  • I like having my wine handy, I’m not going to lie. I don’t have a small child, nor am I active duty military. Airmen and Marines (and I’d assume any active duty military person) are banned from consuming alcohol within 12 hours of a typhoon’s landfall. It’s important that they’re ready and able to help both just before and just after the storm. Dependents are “encouraged to refrain from alcohol consumption” during the storm.
  • Secure your items. My friend had a scuba tank fly into the back of her car. Nothing is safe. Bring it in, or secure it WELL.
  • Have a few buckets handy. If you’re new here, you may just learn that your roof has a leak or two and rags. Many friends of mine have had water rush in through sliding doors and/or windows.
  • Have your gas tanks full, plenty of cash (yen & dollars) on hand, all important papers and ID.
  • Take out all trash (make sure it’s secured) & have all laundry & dishes done before the typhoon is set to hit.
  • Off base & on base experiences are different for several reasons. For example, off base you will see locals out & about in the storm, fixing things and driving around and such. But use good judgement, please – it’s so important to stay inside until you hear the all-clear. On base it may take longer to get power back if it goes out, as people are locked down until recovery.

Weather websites:
kadenaforcesupport.com/weather.html
http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/
http://www.wunderground.com/
http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/#
http://www.typhoon2000.ph/ (a conglomeration of many resources)

Also a good idea to be a fan of AFN on Facebook, or tune into Wave 89.1 FM or Surf 648 AM on the radio. You’ll want to know if water isn’t potable or there’s any other important news.

My personal favorite is blogger Dave Ornauer of Stars & Stripes:
http://www.stripes.com/blogs/pacific-storm-tracker/pacific-storm-tracker-1.106563
He updates often and writes very well with many specifics from 18th Wing Weather Flight’s forecasts including timelines.

Whew! That was an insane amount of information. I’m sure you all have more to add in the comments, but I hope this is a good place to start.


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3 Comments
  • Pingback:Newlywed PCS, Part 6: The New Rules | Okinawa Hai!

  • August 4, 2011

    Thanks for the info. My son is stationed over there so it’s good to know what to expect when a typoon is expected to hit. I’m going to repost this on my FB page as well.

    Nancy
    Reply
  • August 2, 2011

    Great ideas! We’re the back home folks for our Oki/Kadena family. My daughter posted this on her Fb page so the word’s getting out. Thanks for your efforts!

    NanaJan
    Reply