Monsoon season brings heavy rains
June 11, 2008
<b>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea </b> - Garrison officials are increasing awareness of the monsoon season, a rainy season in Asia when heavy rains and strong winds can cause severe impact on Army installations in Korea.
The monsoon season typically begins in June and can last as long as two months, but intense rainfall occurs during a 30-40 day period in when heavy rains account for more than 50 percent of Korea's annual rainfall.
This potentially destructive weather damaged areas around the Yongsan Bowling Center in 2002, causing garrison facilities a loss of millions of dollars.
In 1998, four U.S. Soldiers, and more than 300 Korean civilians, were killed during monsoon season. U.S. Forces Korea suffered $242 million in lost or damaged property.
In Korea, it is possible to have more than 20 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period, said David Thomas, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan operations officer.
"Many people come to Korea for the first time during the summer season and know nothing of the dangers of monsoon season," Thomas said. "Our focus at the installation is on preparedness and training, and mitigation is the best course of action when dealing with destructive weather."
On April 30, the garrison led a working group to review the USAG-Yongsan Destructive Weather Plan and to coordinate preparations with tenant units.
Gate 17 used to be a major problem area for drainage. "With the recent renovations at Gate 17, we should see a marked improvement in this area," he said. "Improved drainage around the Yongsan Bowling Center, Education Center, Library, and 8th Army and X Corps intersection can also be expected due to upgrades made in previous years."
Those areas have often been exposed to flooding during monsoon season. Other areas to be careful of are the fenceline that runs next to the War Memorial near Moyer Community Services Center, the U.S. Army Hospital-Yongsan overflow parking and South Post Dental Clinic parking lot.
The west side of Camp Coiner, near the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Shoppette and softball field, has also experienced excessive flooding in the past. Training areas are dangerous during heavy rains in hilly and mountainous areas.
Off post, drivers should also be aware of low areas that may flood over, for example low bridges. Thomas advised drivers to use the top level of the Banpo Bridge during heavy rains because the Han River can swell over the bottom portion of the bridge.
Destructive weather mitigation plans specify action for countering flooding or handling excessive debris from heavy winds.
"The best mitigation process is to ensure that drainage ditches, gutters, and drains are clear of debris," Thomas said. "The key is to keep water flowing and not to let it backup."
To protect against heavy winds, community members should ensure broken or overhanging tree limbs are removed, he added.
During monsoon season preparation and planning, workers clear debris from ditches on the sides of roads and stream beds on installations. Workers fill sand bags, and store them, just in case.
While the monsoon season opens potential dangers from lightning, reduced visibility when driving and hydroplaning, the most serious danger may comes from flash floods.
"Right now we are already at Flood Condition (FLOODCON) 1, which started the first weekend after Memorial Day," Thomas said. "We have reviewed plans and rehearsed mitigation procedures, cleared and opened drainage systems, ensured units know their areas of responsibility, prepositioned sand bags and provided sand."
Garrison assets are on-call if needed, he said. If the situation warrants, the garrison may go to FLOODCON 2 or FLOODCON 3. If this happens, certain destructive weather mitigation procedures may be activated.
"During FLOODCON 3, people may be relocated to safer areas, installation and community activities may be limited or stopped, roads may be closed and military and civilian work stoppages could be expected," he said.
"Residents are responsible for their quarters and the immediate vicinity around those quarters," Thomas added. "Prior to the destructive weather season, no one should ever attempt to clean a drainage system during a DW event."
During duty hours, the USAG-Yongsan DPTMS number is 738-7316 (add the prefix 0505 if dialing from off post). During off-duty hours, the numbers are 738-7404 or 738-7405.
Aca,!Ac Commanders at all levels conduct risk assessments of training areas and installations
Aca,!Ac Commanders ID and preposition resources, plan recovery efforts, integrate into response plans
Aca,!Ac Alert roster updated and validated
Aca,!Ac Commanders ensure Servicemembers receive seasonal training on hazards and appropriate responses to monsoonal weather conditions
Aca,!Ac Identify and order high use supplies for the monsoon season
Aca,!Ac Identify staging areas for sandbags in flood prone areas
Aca,!Ac Inspect facilities and barracks for seasonal readiness
Aca,!Ac Activate the USAG-Y IOC (minimal staff)
Aca,!Ac Identify and prepare vulnerable areas.
Aca,!Ac Designate QRF teams and monitor sectors
Aca,!Ac Identify and notify units on training ranges
Aca,!Ac Order cease movement for non-essential travel
Aca,!Ac Put warnings on AFN radio and television
Aca,!Ac Activate the Area II IOC (full staff)
Aca,!Ac Evacuate buildings in danger of flooding or landslides
Aca,!Ac Provide forces for flood mitigation efforts
Aca,!Ac Position water in unit areas
Aca,!Ac Move family members to safe areas