Report Number: 85
Year: 1999

Typhoon Vulnerability Study for Guam

No abstract was published. The published Foreward follows.

Guam has the highest risk of being hit by a typhoon (aka hurricane) of any state or territory in the United States. It also has one of the highest risks for getting a typhoon strike of any densely populated area in the world. Furthermore, Guam is susceptible to being hit by the world's largest and most intense tropical cyclones. For these reasons, it is only prudent, but essential, that island leaders have a clear idea of the vulnerability of the island and its various sectors to the typhoon hazard.

In 1995, a Hurricane Program Needs Assessment was prepared for Guam at the insistence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Among a multitude of other needs, it identified the need for a comprehensive Typhoon Vulnerability Study for the island – a requirement of FEMA for typhoon-prone areas. The purpose of the following Vulnerability Assessment, while satisfying these requirements, is to give Guam's leadership a document on which it can base critical preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation decisions.

This Vulnerability Study was designed as an operational manual and a planning document. It was laid out to complement a Hurricane Evacuation Study being developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Guam. That study will refine the vulnerability of coastal areas to inundation caused by storm surge and wave run-up.

The Study contains data that is perishable due to Guam's changing demographics, valuation of assets and economic dependence. Therefore, it should be updated periodically. Eventually, the Study should employ the data available from the comprehensive new structures [sic] data base of the Bureau of Planning. The Study should also be applied to the geographic information system (GIS) data base at some future date.

While the people of Guam have responded admirably to past typhoons, most people are not cognizant of the increased destructive force that stronger typhoons can produce. Most cannot fathom the level of destruction that would result from a direct hit by a 170-190 mph typhoon. This document should give the island's leadership a clearer idea of where we stand in terms of preparedness, recovery, and mitigation.

Charles "Chip" P. Guard
Michael P. Hamnett
Charles J. Neumann
Mark A. Lander
Galt H. Siegrist Jr.