The following article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Public Administration Today, a newsletter for Post University’s Master of Public Administration students.
In the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu, more than 150 U.S. service members arrived on the typhoon-ravaged island of Tinian, one of three islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
For two months, Emergency Management and Homeland Security associate faculty member Lt. Col. Christopher Johnson led the Combat Logistics Battalion 31’s disaster relief operations. The Combat Logistics Battalion 31 is part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is the unit of choice for Defense Support of Civil Authorities operations. Along with other military units, the Combat Logistics Battalion 31 Marines partnered with local agencies and FEMA to assess critical shortfalls of material and supplies and determine the best way to support the people and local authorities on Tinian.
A category 5 super typhoon, Yutu made a direct hit on the island, with sustained winds in excess of 170 miles per hour, leaving approximately 2,000 island residents without power and running water. Roads and public facilities waterlogged and surrounded by downed trees further complicated relief efforts. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Yutu is the strongest storm ever to hit U.S. soil and is tied for the most powerful storm in 2018.