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SANTA RITA, Guam - The Department of Defense assisted the Republic of Palau prior to and in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Bopha.
The storm struck Palau Dec. 2 producing winds of approximately 155 miles per hour and left extensive damage to infrastructure, power lines and roads.
In preparation for the storm, Lt. Cmdr. Roldan Mina, of Joint Region Marianas, arrived in Palau and served as the liaison for the U.S. Defense Representative (DEFREP) Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau. The DEFREP serves as the representative of the Department of Defense to the Department of State and the respective foreign nation within their area of responsibility to coordinate support, aid and humanitarian assistance when needed.
"Palau's emergency management pre-storm preparations, combined with DEFREP, U.S. AID (Agency for International Development) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and JTF-HD (Joint Task Force-Homeland Defense) disaster preparedness/mitigation and planning engagement directly contributed to prevention of loss of life," Mina said.
DEFREP's assistance demonstrated significant teamwork between the Department of Defense, Republic of Palau and Department of State.
"The presence of the DEFREP in country reinforces the forward-leaning role of DOD in providing assistance and relief upon request by the affected country, in this case Palau," Mina said. "This only further fosters our relationships with our allies."
As part of the mission, Mina worked with the U.S. Embassy, Palau National Emergency Management Office, USAID OFDA and the U.S. Pacific Command Civic Action Team (CAT) Palau to assist with debris clearing and delivery of essentials such as drinking water, food and gasoline to atolls within the sovereign nation affected by the storm.
CAT Palau enables U.S. Pacific Command's engagement strategy by directing and supporting the civic action program in community construction, apprentice training, medical assistance, and community relations programs. In the wake of the storm, the team provided assistance by clearing debris such as trees from the roads and helping with rebuilding efforts. They also have provided potable water to 200 residents in the state of Ngaraard.