Military bases on Guam are inching back to life after Typhoon Mawar
Stars and Stripes May 26, 2023
Military installations on Guam lowered their alert levels Friday as the U.S. territory continues to clean up and repair damage left by Typhoon Mawar.
Joint Region Marianas, the military installation management command on Guam, was still in “assessment mode,” spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Katie Koenig told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday. She was unable to speak to conditions at individual bases.
Access to Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam is being limited to those with Defense Department common access cards, typically service members and dependents, with limited exceptions for Andersen, according to a Friday evening news release from Joint Region Marianas.
“While the situation continues to develop rapidly during recovery efforts, we ask the community for their patience and understanding as we work to get through this difficult time,” Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, Joint Region Marianas commander, said in the release.
Naval Hospital Guam’s emergency room is available and Branch Health Clinic Apra Harbor is accepting walk-ins, according to the release, with pharmacies available at both locations.
Mawar, the strongest typhoon to strike the island in decades, lashed parts of the island Wednesday afternoon with 138 mph sustained winds and gusts of 167 mph. It dropped as much as 2 feet of rain on central and northern Guam and about 1 foot elsewhere.
At Naval Base Guam, gas pumps at the Navy Exchange were online at 6:15 p.m. until 7 p.m. Friday and expected to open again 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, according to a post on the base’s official Facebook page. Consumers are limited to $20 transactions, in cash only, until further notice.
The base and hospital convenience stores will open again between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, according to the post. Customers are limited to two items, cash purchases only.
Andersen Air Force Base “is working to get essential services reopened such as the Base Exchange, Commissary, fuel station and medical services,” according to a Friday afternoon post on its Facebook page.
“Thankfully no member of Team Andersen was seriously injured,” Brig. Gen. Paul Fast, 36th Wing commander, said in the post. “Currently our top priority is sustaining life and ensuring the well-being of our members, but we are also prioritizing opening our airfield to bring in aid for the island.”
Spokespeople for Naval Base Guam, the Marine Corps’ Camp Blaz and Andersen were unable or did not respond to email and phone requests for information Friday.
Much of the 210-square-mile island was still without power Friday. The Guam Power Authority met only 3.8% of its customer demand, the island’s Joint Information Center said in a news release.
The water supply fared slightly better, with Guam’s northern and southern supplies operating normally and 50% of wells online across the islands, the Guam Waterworks Authority reported in the same release. People are being urged to boil water due to possible bacterial contamination.
Parks, recreational areas and schools that aren’t serving as emergency shelters remained closed.
Emergency shelters are at 30% capacity, with 690 people there as of 4 p.m., according to the information center. All major roadways are cleared and open, but traffic control points will be unmanned by 6 p.m. and motorists are asked to proceed with caution when approaching major intersections.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency continued to support and coordinate responses, along with other federal agencies such as the Defense Department and the Red Cross, the agency said in a Thursday news release.
Navy ships operating in the region are ready to provide assistance if called upon, Koenig told Stars and Stripes in an email Friday. She did not confirm or deny that the USS Nimitz had been ordered to Guam to assist in recovery efforts, as reported by the Associated Press on Thursday.
DOD has teams on the island working with the local government and FEMA, she said, but damage assessment is still underway. The teams have received 12 assignments from FEMA so far, including debris clearance, personnel movement and the establishment of staging bases to support recovery efforts.
“As FEMA identifies additional DoD missions, we will move appropriate personnel and equipment to support the government and people in the affected area,” she Koenig wrote.