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Personnel, dependents arrive this weekend

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Guam will see an influx of military personnel and their families currently stationed in Japan. Immediate family members of military personnel who chose voluntary departure will begin arrive to Guam this weekend.

Laura Lloy and her family have been living in Japan for a number of years. Her husband is in the army and has been stationed in Tokyo. Laura says she vividly remembers the quake that shook the country just last week. "We felt the earthquake very strongly, our apartment is on the 7th floor of the tower building. We had a lot of breakage and a lot of dishes, TV - that kind of thing," she told KUAM News. "After that, we were fine. We weren't affected by the tsunami but there were a lot of aftershocks. They were coming every 30 minutes. So it was very unnerving." 

Laura left Japan on Wednesday, just a day before the United States military issued the voluntary evacuation. While she plans to leave to the mainland soon with her 5-year-old daughter, she says her husband will stay in Japan where he works as a foreign area officer and his helping with efforts there.

"He's there. He's helping out quite a bit with the search and rescue efforts and helping military families move back to the States. He tells me he won't be leaving Japan at all. So even if Tokyo becomes dangerous, he will be moved to the Osaka area," Lloy added.

One thousand sailors and aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 5 are on Guam for an indefinite period as part of the Navy's force posture adjustment for Operation Tomodachi. The Joint Region Marianas confirms the aircraft began arriving at Andersen Air Force Base since Thursday.

Leigh Leilani Graham, the director for USO Guam, says they stand ready to help service members and their families. "Internet, Wi-Fi, Skype phones, Voice Over Internet Protocol, we have all of that here at the USO. In addition to free long distance calls to the States, also giving them free international calls on an as-needed basis," she explained.

In the meantime, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association president Mary Torre says there are currently eleven hotels contracted to do business with the U.S. Department of Defense. "We have received a couple of hundred people in various areas and their stay is undetermined at this time. So some of them are transiting through to go back home," Torres said. "So of course, we're never going to know the exact number and we're never going to know the exact number of time because maybe they're waiting for commercial flights and maybe they're waiting for other flights. So that's the thing. Things are kind of in limbo."

Torre says while there has been a decrease in the number of tourists coming in from Japan, she says accommodating the military personnel and their dependents will definitely help our economy.

"I think providing rooms is always helpful when showing our partnership when in need, but at the same time, it's still a business and we understand there's still an amount that is required for the military whenever they say," she added. "So, of course, it is going to help the economy at this time and that's our best - one of our best assets is the proximity."

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