A group from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has arrived on Guam and is hunkered down inside the Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense headquarters in Agana Heights along with the rest of the government of Guam Joint Information Center team.

Victor Inge is a Region 9 external affairs officer with FEMA, in charge of the six-member Incident Management Assistance Team.

"Actually, we're not early," said Inge. "We're on time."

At some point today the airport is going to close, Inge said, adding, "We try to lean forward in anticipation of what could take place."

Another FEMA incident management team from Texas is expected to arrive as backup, he said.

Inge's team flew down from Saipan, where a larger FEMA contingent has been in place since Typhoon Mangkhut struck the Northern Marianas in September.

The busy storm season has not exhausted FEMA's pre-positioned stock of emergency relief supplies, which are stored at a warehouse here on Guam. Plenty of pallets of bottled water, canned foodstuffs and medical supplies remain, Inge said.

"We're hoping that nothing happens," he said. "But in the event that it does, we're already here."

Minimal damage expected

It's hoped that damage will be minimal because the storm is not expected to come within 150 miles of the island.

The National Weather Service projects sustained winds between 35 and 45 miles per hour. Gusts may get as high as 50 to 60 mph.

During a heavy weather briefing Thursday, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Charles "Chip" Guard told the various stakeholders that those kind of winds might cause damage to signs and canopies, or blow down dead tree limbs and green palm fronds. It also might cause light damage to poorly constructed homes.

However, the winds could blow as long as 48 hours, from early Saturday until early Monday morning.

Guard expressed concern that the duration of the winds, and the rain that will come with it, may cause more extensive damage.

Joining other agencies

Inge's FEMA team has joined dozens of representatives from other federal agencies, the military, the island's police and fire departments, all three island hospitals, the schools and the public utility agencies, which may be called on in the event of damage or injury as Typhoon Wutip passes.

"The goal is to have a big pool of resources and to be able to coordinate behind the scenes for any resources that are needed throughout the duration of the storm," said Jenna Blas, the spokeswoman for Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense.

The American Red Cross and representatives from faith-based groups and other nonprofits also are on hand, she said.