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Kadena, Chatan conduct disaster evacuation drill

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The 18th Wing partnered with Chatan Town to exercise disaster evacuation procedures at Kadena Air Base, Sept. 16, 2023. Members of Chatan communities walked from Kadena’s main gate to a park on the installation to simulate a real-world tsunami evacuation.

The west side of Chatan Town faces the ocean, offering plenty of sightseeing and marine leisure. However, it is also an area at risk of damage from tsunamis. For some parts of Chatan, the fastest route to safety is through the base.

Chatan Town is located between Kadena air base and the ocean. This means the fastest route to safety for local residents is through the base. 

Kadena regularly trains to respond to a range of crises and contingencies, providing support to Airmen, their families and the local community.

“It is important to build a system in which neighbors help each other in the community,” said  Masashi Toguchi, Chatan Town mayor. “We hope that today’s evacuation experience will raise the awareness of disaster prevention among more residents and lead to the strengthening of disaster prevention capabilities.”

Natural disasters are an ever-present potential crisis within the Indo-Pacific region. Conducting training exercises ensures Kadena’s readiness, and identifies any potential challenges to improve upon.

“In order to protect many lives from a sudden tsunami, it is important to grasp the disaster risk around your home in normal times and check the evacuation site with your family,” said Toguchi.

As part of mutual aid agreements with the local community, Chatan Town residents are encouraged and permitted to travel through Kadena Air Base Gate 1 and exit through Gate 5, if this is the shortest route to higher ground in the event of a tsunami crisis..

“Timeliness will always vary, but our goal in such a scenario is to respond as fast as possible,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Joshua Lundeby, 18th Wing deputy commander.

This exercise was previously an annual event with Chatan Town. The exercise was postponed due to COVID-19 for four years until 2022, which was then canceled due to a typhoon. 

“It’s not every day that we get to exercise with our friends and neighbors off-base, so this really is something special,” said Lundeby. “We appreciate Mayor Toguchi’s leadership in realizing this important event.”

Natural disaster preparedness demands individual readiness and bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of service members and the local community in the event of a crisis situation.

“Today’s exercise was a good opportunity for us to get an idea of what we can expect, and we intend to learn and build upon today’s events. Team Kadena is always ready to support our local neighbors,” said Lundeby.