Heavy equipment vehicles from the 1224th Engineering Support Company, Guam Army National Guard, are loaded onto the well-deck of the Whidbey-Island class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) via Navy Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) 1634, attached to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 on Naval Base Guam. Ashland is in Guam to transport 18 heavy equipment vehicles to Saipan for disaster relief efforts after Super Typhoon Yutu. (Photo by 1st Class Oliver Cole)
Builder Constructionman Austin Heagle, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, instructs a local Tinian official on how to properly set up a FEMA-provided tent, which will be given out to families whose homes were damaged during Super Typhoon Yutu, Nov. 3, 2018. Service members from Joint Region Marianas and Indo-Pacific Command are providing Department of Defense support to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands' civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts. (Photo by (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Matthew R. White))
An aerial photo shows a part of the southern end of Saipan, which was heavily impacted by Super Typhoon Yutu, Oct. 28. Many residents in the south were displaced and continue to go without electricity and running water. Service members from Joint Region Marianas and Indo-Pacific Command are providing Department of Defense support to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands' civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts. (Photo by Courtesy)
Soldiers with E Company, 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, 9th Mission Support Command, assist local volunteers and government agencies in distributing essential disaster relief supplies at the Ada Gym, Saipan, Oct. 28, 2018 following the destruction left by Super Typhoon Yutu. (Photo by JoAnna Delfin)
CAPITOL HILL, Saipan -- More than 500 service members from Joint Region Marianas and other units from within Indo-Pacific Command assigned to Task Force-West (TF-W) are providing Department of Defense (DoD) support to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Super Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts, which began Oct. 25 immediately following the storm.
“We are working alongside the people of CNMI to help recover and ensure people get the assistance they need,” said Navy Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander of TF-W. “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication I’ve seen from my team, both on Saipan and Tinian, and I know they will continue to put forth their best effort until contributions from the DoD are no longer needed.”
Super Typhoon Yutu was the strongest typhoon to hit a U.S. territory and was the second-strongest system to hit U.S. soil in recorded history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Category 5 super typhoon had sustained winds of 178 mph, which devastated much of Saipan and Tinian.
“Ensuring the health and safety of our family following the storm is our top priority,” said Governor Ralph DLG. Torres. “This is the worst storm anyone in the CNMI has ever seen, and we must ensure we take care of each other. We are grateful for the partnership we have with FEMA and our military partners on island to help us during this difficult time. To our federal and military partners, Si Yu’us Ma’ase for your continued support; thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
More than 50,000 residents on Saipan and Tinian are coming together with outside entities to recover from the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yutu.
“The CNMI government, American Red Cross, FEMA and the DoD are prioritizing life-saving and life-sustaining missions throughout the designated islands of CNMI,” said Bern Ruiz, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer for FEMA, the U.S. government’s domestic emergency response agency. “We are focused on restoring community lifelines and working to ensure food, water, medical and critical supplies are available in sufficient quantity.”
During Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations, the U.S. military provides essential support to American citizens affected by declared natural disasters. With FEMA as the lead Federal agency, TF-W continues to partner with civil and local agencies to perform debris clearance on public lands and assist with distribution of water and food to people in need.
“To the people of CNMI: we stand here with you during this time of crisis,” said Chatfield. “Your military is here to help. We are Marianas Strong.”
TF-W is a joint task force. It is divided into Task Group Saipan and Task Group Tinian, and is comprised of active duty, reserve, and Guam National Guard service members from more than 20 different units across every branch of service. Service members traveled from Japan, Guam, Hawaii, and parts of the continental U.S. as part of TF-W’s DSCA mission. TF-W is providing DoD support to the CNMI civil and local officials as part of the FEMA-supported Typhoon Yutu recovery efforts.