by Airman John D. Partlow
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/22/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Yokota personnel regularly train for on-base emergencies, and a tropical cyclone that struck the base Sept. 21 put their training to the test.
The response required a coordinated effort from units throughout the base, an effort that began well before the storm itself.
The 374th Airlift Wing Plans and Programs office plans for on-base disaster scenarios. Once the tropical cyclone was predicted to hit Yokota, members began implementing comprehensive emergency management plans and advising leadership officials on what to do next.
"We have to have a plan so that we know what our course of action will be during an emergency," said Maj. Jeffrey Smith, 374th AW Plans and Operations chief of installation exercises and inspections. "We ensure the base has a rapid coordinated response for any situation."
One squadron in particular played a highly visible role in acting out those plans.
Confronted with more than 35 downed trees and widespread smaller debris, the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron helped execute the recovery effort by removing this debris from roadways and base housing areas.
"It was very important to move the trees," said Senior Master Sgt. Freddie Flowers, 374th CES operations superintendant. "They pose a safety hazard, and we don't want anyone getting hurt."
In order to keep base residents informed of weather updates during the storm, American Forces Network Tokyo, stationed here at Yokota, teamed up with Public Affairs shops throughout the region to run scrolling updates on all AFN channels and keep a fully operational radio staff on shift through the night.
"It was really important to keep people updated during the storm," said Airman 1st Class David Meade, AFN Tokyo Eagle 810 broadcaster. "Once we were notified that Yokota went into Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness 1, we switched to an emergency broadcasting format to push out as much information as possible."
Whether confronted with an earthquake, typhoon or any other natural disaster, the people of Yokota should always be ready to handle the situation and ensure the mission still gets accomplished.
"It doesn't matter what happens because Yokota is always ready," said Airman 1st Class Joe Johnson, 374th Communications Squadron radio frequency transmission technician. "Whether we're helping ourselves or others, Airmen here will get the job done."