By Hannah Wilkes
American Red Cross Volunteer
Okinawa has officially entered typhoon season. For people who have been on the island awhile already, this may have stopped being exciting a long time ago. For those who are newer, there may be a lot of unanswered questions and anxiety. Storms are most likely to form between June and November - according to Kadena’s webpage, up to 26 may form every season. This year has been quiet so far, but it’s still early and there are reports the tropics are about to get stormier.
Okinawa is officially under TCCOR-4 for the duration of the typhoon season. This means residents should be prepared for winds of 50 knots or greater within 72 hours AT ALL TIMES. Being ready means having a season’s supply of fresh water, canned and other non-perishable foods, along with flashlights, batteries, and candles. At a minimum, plan to have enough to cover the household for 3 days. It’s also important to remember things like diapers, wipes, medications, toilet paper: any necessities!
One important aspect of keeping everyone safe is taking the outdoor clean-up seriously. Bring all items possible inside. Trash and recycle service stops during TCCOR-2. Please remember to bring in your trash from the curb! If you have a large table or trampoline, turn it over and either tie it down or weigh it down securely with sandbags. FREE sandbags are available ahead of storms at Kadena’s Eagle Hardware. These can be used to weigh down items or to help prevent flooding, depending on your location. The houses here are built to withstand just about any disaster, so one the greatest risks of damage and injury, short of flooding, may come from flying debris and lawn furniture.
Other useful tips include filling up the bathtub. I’ve never had to make use of the water in it, but should water supply be cut off, it can be used to flush the toilet and otherwise maintain sanitary conditions. Taping the windows is said NOT to be useful. Truly, the best advice is to have supplies ready ahead of the rush, have the house and yard in order, to keep electronics charged, and be ready to spend a couple days inside. The Japanese locals often carry on their normal activities through the storm, but on base everyone must wait for “TCCOR All Clear.”
Useful sites to follow include Kadena’s shogunweather.com for up-to-date TCCOR information.
On Facebook, these are some good sources of information:
-American Red Cross- Kadena Station
-Kadena Force Support Squadron
For further information, including downloadable guides and checklists, see our Disaster Services and Disaster Resources pages.