Harsh weather preparations on track in Korea
April 14, 2010
RED CLOUD GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Every year Korea experiences seasonal rains from June 1 through Sept. 30.
Monsoons, or rainy seasons, are a shift in wind direction, which causes excessive rainfall. These rains can cause floods, which are one of weather's most deadly hazards. Floodwaters can be deceptively deep and fast-moving-and they can kill. Floods come in two varieties, flash floods and the kind often called 'river floods' or 'main stream floods.'
The name flash flood tells the story. They occur when heavy rains or a broken dam cause a sudden rise in the level of a stream, often a small, harmless-looking stream. Floods, especially flash floods, kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms or lightning.
"What most matters to people is the effect of too much water in places where they don't want it, when they don't need it," said Dustin Welin, emergency operations and plans specialist, Directorate for Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security.
The USAG-RC commander and his staff are aware of these threats and are taking mitigation actions now to lessen their effects by taking risk assessments of facilities, exercise locations, and training areas.
"Historically, about twice a year typhoons make landfall in Korea with accompanying damage by high winds and local flooding from heavy rains," Welin said. "Monsoons and typhoons, during a 30- to 40-day period, account for more than 50 percent of Korean's annual rainfall. Upon receipt of a destructive weather advisory, point warning, or flood warning, units and individuals immediately start response actions to protect life, equipment and property."
Many people come to Korea who have never been here before, and know nothing of the dangers caused by a storm.
"In 2006 heavy rains caused USAG-Casey creek to overflow and flood other parts of the installation at a repair cost of more than $200,000," Welin said.
During emergency conditions, the action phase of the plan goes into gear.
"This means manpower places sand bags, controls traffic, relocates equipment, performs search and rescue operations, and evacuates and shelters victims," Welin said. "Also, we will keep the people updated about the details through our USAG-RC website and facebook."
Preparing for disaster helps everyone accept the fact disasters do happen, and provides us a chance to identify and collect the resources needed to meet basic needs after a disaster, Welin said.
Preparation helps; when people feel prepared, they cope better. A good check list to remember:
Before a flood:
- Keep alert for signs of heavy rain
- Know where high ground is and how you will get there quickly
- Plan an evacuation route
- Have emergency supplies (batteries, portable radio, food and water)
- Do not park or establish bivouac adjacent to streams or at the base of a hill: Mud slides down hill
- If in a residence fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water
- Move valuable household possessions to upper floors if possible
- If living off base know where the evacuation assembly area is on the closest U.S. Military installation
During a flood:
- If outside move to high ground immediately
- Don't cross flooded streams
- If your vehicle stalls during a stream crossing then abandon it and move to higher ground
- Listen to weather bulletins on AFKN radio
- If in a residence turn off electricity and gas
- Assemble emergency supplies, clothing and critical documents
- If instructed to evacuate do so quickly to high ground and if possible, to the closest U.S. Military installation
- Avoid already flooded and high velocity water flow areas. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot if water is above your knees
- Do not attempt to drive through flooded areas as the roadbed may have washed out underneath you
- Avoid heavy floating objects like cars, boxes or conexs. Like an iceberg most of it will be under water and will injure you if it hits you