Much work awaits 3rd MEB Marines, sailors in northern Philippines
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marines and sailors with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade continued their deployment Friday to the storm-ravaged northern Philippines, sending personnel and supplies to assist in recovery efforts.
Eventually, some 600 members of the 3rd MEB, 50 Air Force emergency rescue personnel from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and helicopters and supply personnel from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station on mainland Japan will operate out of the former U.S. Clark Air Base, about 50 miles north of Manila.
A typhoon and two tropical storms in the past two weeks caused flooding and mudslides in provinces east of Manila. More than 800 dead and at least 750 missing have been reported.
The national disaster agency said more than 3 million people have been affected by the storms, with some 650,000 people living in squalid conditions in overtaxed emergency shelters.
Officials said it might take at least two weeks to restore electricity to 17 of the worst-hit towns. Some areas are accessible only from the air as roads have been damaged by mudslides, bridges have been brought down and ports are clogged by hundreds of logs.
Philippines president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cancelled all logging permits in the area after damage reports pointed to excessive logging practices as exacerbating the damage caused by the storms.
Marines and sailors with the 3rd MEB have established a joint-forward operating base with Navy and Air Force units at Clark, said 2nd Lt. Eric Tausch, a Marine spokesman. “From there, the Marines are providing the medium- and heavy-lift capability of their helicopters to distribute relief supplies to the affected areas.”
Tausch said the 3rd MEB will remain “only as long as necessary to assist the government in minimizing the loss of life of displaced persons caused by the natural disaster.”
“The forward presence of III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa significantly contributes to the ability of the United States to respond to the need for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and to alleviate human suffering,” stated Brig. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, commander of the 3rd MEB, in a news release.
“It is my hope that the Marines and sailors of the 3rd MEB will help minimize the suffering of those so horribly affected by these natural disasters.”
Ryan Walker/Courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps
Marines headed to the Philippines load sea bags onto a KC-130 Hercules at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, on Thursday. About 600 Marines and sailors with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade are providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for the crisis there brought on by back-to-back storms.