MARINE CORPS INSTALLATIONS PACIFIC — Typhoon Jelawat made landfall on Okinawa Sept. 29, bringing destructive winds and rain that toppled trees, overturned cars, and flooded streets.
Jelawat was the sixth typhoon to hit Okinawa this year and in less than ten hours, caused the most destruction of the 2012 typhoon season.
“The strongest winds from Naha were reported at 78 mph with gusts at 137 mph,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Wilson, a weather technician with 18th Operations Support Squadron, 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing. “The strongest winds on Kadena Air Base were (91 mph) with gusts up to (115 mph).”
The typhoon caused temporary disruption in the power grid on the island, affecting both residential and commercial buildings including the commissary on Camp Foster, which lost power for almost 21 hours.
“At the store, we activated our normal typhoon contingency plan,” said John Zaher, the Camp Foster Commissary store director. “All chill and frozen cases were covered, and the facility was secured.” While the store suffered losses, the precautions taken by the staff ensured damages were minimized, according to Zaher.
“It took the better part of Sunday and Monday to restock our inventory,” said Zaher. “We have been busy, but with the help of the entire commissary and warehouse staff, our shelves are now back to normal.”
The wrath of Jelawat had significant effects elsewhere, as many residents on Okinawa suffered damage to their homes, vehicles and work places.
“This typhoon caused a lot of damage,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Valdes, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the District South Provost Marshal’s Office, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. “Multiple buildings were damaged, garage doors were ripped off, cars were flipped, and signs were blown down, but luckily there was nothing major. Most of the damage was only cosmetic.”
Military policemen patrolled base housing before the storm, stopping at any house with outdoor items that could become dangerous projectiles and ensuring they were secured.
“You can never predict what a storm is going to do,” said Valdes. “This typhoon was not forecast to be as bad as the last typhoon, but it brought heavier winds and much more damage. It is important to always take the same precautions before a storm because you never know what could happen.”