Army prepared for worst as Korea’s typhoon season begins
August 4, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Army officials in lower South Korea were keeping a close eye on Typhoon Matsa earlier this week as it moved up the Pacific and said their crews are ready should a typhoon strike their region.
The area took a thrashing two years ago when Typhoon Maemi, the worst in South Korea’s history, killed almost 100 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Matsa was well east of the Philippines on Tuesday. Forecasters said its path isn’t clear enough yet to determine whether South Korea will be affected. But the mere prospect of a typhoon holds special immediacy for Area IV in southeastern South Korea, the region Maemi hit on Sept. 12-13, 2003. Damage to the area’s U.S. military installations ran to about $6 million, said James Adamski, Area IV’s director of plans, training, mobilization and security.
The typhoon season runs from August through September — and if a typhoon hits, Area IV is ready, Adamski said.
“We feel we are as comfortable to react to any typhoon just like we did to Typhoon Maemi two years ago,” he said.
“We have contingency pallets on standby in case there were people that got displaced, homeless or whatever because of the storms. We have cots, flashlights, batteries, water, blankets, things like that where we can initially take care of personnel during incidents like that,” he said.
And Army public works departments throughout South Korea have taken routine measures to ensure their equipment and crews are ready in case of typhoons or other “destructive weather,” said James Hamilton, Area IV Support Activity public works chief at Camp Henry.
In Taegu, for example, typhoon preparations are taken mainly in the spring, he said. They include trimming trees, keeping storm drains clear and in good repair and testing backup generators needed should storms knock out electric power, he said.
Crews also are braced to cope with a typhoon’s aftermath: “… removing fallen trees, restoring power if that has been disrupted” as well as repairing leaks, damaged roofs, “or maybe broken windows from wind damage, something like that,” Hamilton said.
Typhoon Matsa is distant enough that “we’re not overreacting,” he said. “But since we are a week away from it, it gives us time to check our equipment and make sure that we are prepared in the event that this typhoon comes to Korea.”