NORTH KOREA: Less than 1% chance of a direct hit for GuamWritten by Janela Carrera
Guam - Even if North Korea were to strike Guam with one of its missiles, the likelihood of a direct hit, if at all, is so small that even an earthquake or typhoon would be more of a threat to the island. That’s according to our new Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros who gave us a rundown of how to prepare for any kind of threat to the island and also what to do in the event of a real emergency.
"Everything is an attack. A typhoon is an attack on the island; an earthquake is an attack on the island; cyber is an attack on the island. So that’s the framework I approach it with," said Charfauros.
Whether it’s a typhoon, a terrorist threat, a cyber attack, an earthquake, a tsunami or even a missile, Guam Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros says the response should be the same: always be prepared for one. This means have an emergency preparedness kit and a family communication plan in place at all times.
"So the approach to that is an all hazards approach. That’s the way our plans are made. We approach it from all hazards," he noted.
Nonetheless, tensions continue to escalate over in the Korean peninsula. Over the weekend, after an annual military celebration, the North Korea regime launched a missile in a show of force to the US and its allies. Although it failed, it was enough to get international attention. It’s also enough to cause concern for many islanders who still recall when the island was placed on code yellow about four years ago in light of direct threats from North Korea to Guam.
While the political landscape is different now with a new president, Congress and cabinet, what’s also different is the island’s ability to defend itself in the event of a missile attack.
"The probability of a missile hitting Guam is .00001 percent," asserted Charfauros. "Governor Calvo and I and our partners in the federal and military want to reassure the residents of Guam and the Marianas that yes, tensions may be high on the peninsula but there’s no immediate cause or threat from any of those … especially a missile coming our way."
That level of confidence, says Charfauros, has nothing to do with North Korea’s history of failed missile launch tests or even a different political landscape. Rather, he points out, it has everything to do with the island’s ability to defend itself. After the 2013 North Korea threats to Guam, the US military and federal government, with the urging of Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, stationed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD anti-ballistic missile permanently on Guam.
"An impact of a missile here, direct impact--I’m more worried about a typhoon or an earthquake than a missile," said Charfauros.
And even with reports of Vice President Mike Pence visiting the DMZ near the border of South and North Korea amid rising tensions, it still isn’t much cause for concern for Guam, Charfauros believes.
"Logically, if there was gonna be a missile attack on South Korea, Vice President Pence would not be there. He would definitely not be in that area," expressed Charfauros.
On that same logic, Charfauros also pointed out that if there were any immediate, credible threat to Guam, Governor Calvo would be removed from the island.
Charfauros’ expert advice? Stay calm, have a communication plan and an emergency preparedness kit in place.
"Just stay calm. Like I said, prepare for the worst type of disaster ... have an evacuation plan. Your family might be in different parts of the island, you wanna have an agreed upon meeting point," he noted, adding that an emergency kit should include "important documents, passport, medical documents, food, emergency rations, water, of course flashlights, batteries."