MILITARY TEAM TO ASSESS STORM DAMAGE ON WAKE ISLAND

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By Gerardo R. Partido

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 5) - Personnel from Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base are being sent to Wake Island to see how well the U.S. territory survived Super Typhoon Ioke.

According to the Air Force, all 188 island residents were evacuated on two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft before the typhoon arrived Thursday with 155 mph winds and gusts up to 190 mph.

The residents included airmen, Department of Defense employees, and DOD contractors.

The infrastructure on the island is expected to be damaged due to storm surges and high waves.

[PIR editor’s note: Ioke today was reduced to a tropical storm as it moved over open ocean in the northwest Pacific.]

Members of Andersen’s 36th Contingency Response Group and U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 are being dispatched to help inspect the damage wrought by the supertyphoon.

They will make an initial assessment of the typhoon’s impact on the island, especially the military facilities as the runway lies only 14 feet above sea level.

Wake is home to a U.S. Air Force base and a scientific outpost. It is roughly midway between Hawaii and Japan and serves as a midpoint air base for Air Force planes flying across the Pacific Ocean.

Ioke was the strongest central Pacific typhoon in at least 12 years.

Forecasters described it as a "monster" storm expected to submerge Wake Island and destroy everything on it that was not made of concrete.

The eye of the typhoon skirted the north edge of the coral atoll last Thursday.

September 6, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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