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Mock typhoon tests readiness of local, federal agencies

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense partnered up with various government, private and military agencies kicking off a major exercise that will prepare the island for major typhoons.

Are our government and federal agencies ready to respond if a category five typhoon were to hit our island? The only way to find out is to conduct a Typhoon "Pakyo" exercise. But unlike last year's full scale exercise this year focuses on two key aspects. Homeland security advisor Ambrosio Constantino said, "Right now there is two areas that we are focused on one is the people that are inside the emergency operations center the collaboration as well as the coordination that's going on the other is the joint information center that's the other area we are focused on."

Constantino says that the GHS side is engaging in the decision making process for the command group in the Joint Region Marianas. "So every morning I get on the phone and I'm listening onto the conversation and we input concerns as well as recommendations from the Government of Guam to Joint Region Marianas," he explained.

This year the focus is geared toward the Emergency Operations Center ensuring that the emergency support function  representatives understand the procedures, stressing documentation, and filling out the right forms and requests. Acting civil defense administrator Jim McDonald said, "We need to test their capabilities their vulnerabilities and their gaps to make sure that if there's needed resources out there to save lives and property we want to make sure that those resources are available."

Concurrently the Joint Region Marianas is also testing their capabilities and are engaged in a full scale typhoon exercise. "On the other side part of the exercise is also going on with Joint Region Marianas is going through a full scale exercise in other words pieces are actually moving around so when they say shut down they are actually shutting down," he said.

So if you hear sirens do not be alarmed. That is just the Joint Region Marianas sounding off in response to the exercise. Defense coordinating officer for US Pacific Command Colonel Bernard Warrington, Jr said, "We are here augmenting Admiral Payne's team to provide defense support to civil authorities specifically what I am able to do here is enable the teams ability to support the government here and what their requirements may be from a defense perspective and at the same time enable the operations of the actual element that's here augmentation support from my team that coming from Hawaii."

Overall the exercise is an opportunity to validate the Guam Emergency Response Plan and the Catastrophic Typhoon Operation Plan with procedures related to a Category 5 typhoon hitting the island. In addition to integration and coordination the procedures roles and responsibility of the Emergency Operation Center will be validated, as well as the capabilities of the Joint Information Center to send out information in a timely manner.
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