DVIDS – News – Marine Corps facility helps evacuate more than 1,600 Okinawan residents during tsunami warning

DVIDS – News – Marine Corps facility helps evacuate more than 1,600 Okinawan residents during tsunami warning

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan – U.S. Marines, chief labor contractors, and Status of Forces Agreement personnel stationed in Okinawa will use the roads at Camp Foster, Camp Kinser, and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to access land from low-lying areas. Local Okinawan residents were evacuated. Coastal areas on April 3rd.

At 8:58 a.m., a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Taiwan, and authorities warned that a devastating tsunami could head toward Okinawa’s southwest coast. At 9 a.m., Japan’s emergency notification system began issuing warnings, alerts, and notices urging evacuations.

Through an existing field implementation agreement, Marine Corps Installations Pacific and local governments cooperated to allow access to the base and evacuate Okinawan residents to higher ground.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Zachary Jacob said, “Under certain circumstances, the distance and time required for individuals living in low-lying towns to reach higher ground or the next rendezvous point can be reduced by following a designated route within the base.” “By moving this, it will be significantly shortened.” , Deputy Operations Officer for the State Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “If a tsunami is imminent, evacuees living off-base will be notified by Japan’s emergency messaging system and urged to head to designated gates.”

Marine Corps installations across Okinawa began opening their gates after notices were issued urging local residents to evacuate low-lying areas. Through the LIA, each base has designated routes for each entry and exit point, but the ultimate goal is to utilize routes within the base to eliminate the need to drive around and along the outside of the base. It was to reach high altitudes.

“The key thing to focus on is community cooperation and ensuring that we are not just part of the base community, but the larger community,” said Col. David Banning, MCIPAC’s Headquarters and Support Battalion commander. “It’s about making sure everyone remembers that they’re part of this.” It’s a community of local neighbors, and we have to work together to deal with whatever happens. ”

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in cooperation with the Okinawa Prefectural Police and Ginowan City, responded by opening its gates to accommodate local Okinawan residents.

Futenma’s Gate 1 was opened to accommodate oncoming traffic, and Gate 2 was opened to allow local residents to access higher ground.

Camp Foster opened its gates to residents of Chatan Town and Ginowan City, coastal lowlands near the base. Staff from low-lying areas of Camp Lester, Lester Middle School, and Camp Foster were also evacuated to higher ground within the base.

Marines from the Camp Foster Sheriff’s Office and Camp Guard were responsible for traffic control starting at the gate and throughout the base. They also acted as collection point managers so residents knew where to go.

“Everyone worked as a team. Tennant command did a great job,” said Sgt. Maj. Timothy Anderson, sergeant major, Marine Corps Installations Headquarters and Support Battalion, Pacific. “The unit leadership and all tenant commands in the lower camp took this seriously and removed everyone from the lower area. This is truly the culmination of individual action, small unit leadership, and making this happen. And it was an appropriate response to a real-world crisis.”

Immediately after the evacuation alert was issued, Camp Kinser was contacted by Urasoe City to open the gate, and Marines were on their way to open the gate. Similar to MCAS Futenma, Camp Kinser opened Gate 5 to receive traffic and Gate 1 as an exit for evacuees to reach Urasoe City.

Camp Operations Marines, the 37th Combat Logistics Regiment, and various other 3rd Marine Logistics Group units at Camp Kinser, along with the MLC, provided on-base instruction and transportation escort.

Kenta Asato, camp operations supply clerk at Camp Kinser, was one of the MLCs stationed at the entry gate of Camp Kinser, providing interpretation assistance and guidance to local residents.

Asato said, “Some people were walking along the road along the base fence.” “We let them know that they would get to their destination faster if they went through Camp Kinser.”

By 10:50 a.m., the last evacuees had passed through Futenma Air Station, bringing the number of local residents who used the airfield for evacuation to an estimated 1,500.

“Our response was a testament to our commitment to community safety, as well as our preparation and rehearsal. I am extremely proud of our response during this unexpected event,” said Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. said Col. William Pacat, the commanding officer. “There were many moving parts, but ultimately all base personnel coordinated a rapid evacuation to get local residents to safety.”

MCIPAC aims to train for these types of scenarios multiple times a year, Anderson said. “Thanks to that, we were able to do this kind of training and prepare for this event. We are already working with the community outside our gates, and this speeds up the process and allows us to communicate with people in town. He said at least 200 local residents passed through Camp Foster by car or on foot.

At Camp Kinser, 27 staff and 28 children from Yuimaru Child Development Center and 180 staff and students from Kinser Elementary School were evacuated, along with other staff in low-lying areas.

At 12:24 p.m., an all-clear was announced and the tsunami warning was lifted as Marine Corps installations began to resume normal operations.

Camp Foster opened its gates for residents seeking shelter to leave the base and return to their homes. The gates at Futenma Air Base remained open until Ginowan City requested them to be closed after the all-clear.

By 2 p.m., Camp Kinser facilities (exchange center, commissary, Kinser Elementary School, and Yuimaru Child Development Center) had restored service and students and staff had returned to their respective locations.

“Such a quick evacuation would not have been possible without the quick response of Marines, MLCs, and Status of Forces personnel,” Pacat said. “Similarly, our strong relationships with local communities have proven to be a critical asset in the successful evacuation of local Okinawan residents.”

Obtained data: March 4, 2024
Post date: May 4, 2024 03:43
Story ID: 467864
position: Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan

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