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Supertyphoon strikes Guam



by Master Sgt. Tammy Cournoyer Air Force Print News

12/09/02 - SAN ANTONIO -- A supertyphoon with sustained winds of 150 mph struck Guam, on Dec. 8 and has left the island without power and water and only limited telephone service.

TNo one from Andersen Air Force Base was injured, according to Staff Sgt. Dale Yates, the from the 36th Air Base Wing's public affairs office.

Damage to the base included loss of power, water and major damage to base structures and more than 1,000 downed trees.

Several hangars on base sustained damage to their walls and roofs, and many street signs were down. There is some flooding damage to the base housing units and surrounding community.

Typhoon Pongsona began pounding the base at about 8 a.m. locally and did not let up until the eye of the storm passed overhead in the early afternoon. Approximately an hour later the storm's fury returned and continued until about 10 p.m., said Yates.

Gusts topped out near 200 mph, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"The power grid for the island is crippled," said Yates, and water was being rationed. As of early Dec. 9, only incoming phone calls were making it to the base. Outgoing phone service was not available.

Yates said base civil engineers are working around the clock to assess the damage on base; however, the base looks good compared to downtown.

"(Downtown) looks like a war zone," said Yates. "It's utter devastation. Power lines are down, and there's debris everywhere."

Relief supplies from throughout Pacific Air Forces were expected to arrive Dec. 9, said Yates, and base people were helping each other, especially those whose spouses are deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

President Bush has declared the island a disaster area. FEMA personnel are en route to Guam to help with recovery efforts. (First Lt. David Faggard from PACAF public affairs contributed to this story.)

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