Story by MCC Matthew White, 30th Naval Construction Regiment
SANTA RITA, Guam – Civilian and military dignitaries gathered in Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), to offer praise and thanks to the Seabees for their efforts supporting the island following the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yutu, Feb. 7.
“To our men and women in uniform today, I salute you,” said Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan. “In rebuilding our homes, you have helped restore certainty in our community and the confidence that we need to keep moving forward.”
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 and NMCB 3, alongside other units from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region, repaired 184 roofs, installed 196 temporary tents for families whose homes were damaged and unlivable immediately following the typhoon, produced more than 54,000 gallons of potable drinking water, cleared debris from 64 miles of road, and translocated 10,036 cubic yards of debris.
“As the storm passed over the island, we had prepared and we know that you had prepared as you always do for these storms,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander Joint Region Marianas. “The devastation here had struck me so profoundly, and the survivors of this storm have been on my mind every day since then. It has been a great honor of mine to lead the Department of Defense mission here.”
The Seabees deployed to Tinian immediately following Super Typhoon Yutu to support the Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission following Yutu, which was the second-strongest storm to hit U.S. territory in recorded history. They were part of Task Force-West, which was the Indo-Pacific Command response to Yutu, initially divided into Task Group Tinian and Task Group Saipan, eventually rolled into Task Group Engineer and included units from the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard.
“Without our Department of Defense and the many components of it and FEMA, these islands would have not been able to recover in the short period of time that we have,” said CNMI Lt. Governor Arnold Palacios. “So you have in this corner of the nation, in this commonwealth, a grateful community, a really grateful community. To all the men and women in FEMA and all the branches of the Department of Defense who were here to help us pick up our lives. Are we back to normalcy? No. But we are almost there and it is because of your hard work every day, day in and day out.” Palacios added “Know this that you have a grateful American community in Tinian and Saipan and the rest of the Commonwealth. Not only are we grateful, but we are proud of our Department of Defense. We are very proud of every man and woman in our Department of Defense. Now, we really see what our Department of Defense is all about. Thank you very much. Thank you for everything that you’ve done for us.”
With the close of Department of Defense support to DSCA, FEMA and civilian authorities will continue to provide support to essential services on Tinian and Saipan.
“It has been an honor for the U.S. Military is to serve our brothers and sisters in the CNMI to support civil and local authorities as they continue recovery efforts in the wake of Typhoon Yutu,” said Chatfield. “Service members from Joint Region Marianas and Indo-Pacific Command worked with FEMA and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands’ civil and local officials to deliver water, fuel, housing, transportation, medical support, electricity and food across the affected regions in Guam and the Marianas Islands. Going forward, the DoD remains ready to support FEMA and local and civilian authorities as needed with forces in Joint Region Marianas.”