More than 150 service members, Marines, Seabees, Coast Guardsmen and soldiers are on the 39-square-mile island that holds a population of more than 3,500.
The Super Typhoon Yutu hit the U.S. territory, one of three major islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, on October 25.
With winds exceeding 170 mph, damage has left nearly two-thirds of the population without power or running water, according to a MEU release. Troops began arriving on October 29.
It has been characterized as the strongest storm to ever strike a U.S. territory.
“This storm is historic ― it had devastating effects on this island ― but the people of Tinian are resilient and we’re glad to lend a hand to help them get back on their feet,” said Col. Robert “Bams” Brodie, the 31st MEU commander, in a news release.
A company of U.S. Navy Seabees, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, also arrived to aid in relief efforts. NMCB-1 is stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi, and is currently deployed to Guam; the Guam-based 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, U.S. Air Force.
“We are teamed up with local officials and supporting FEMA to prevent a wider humanitarian disaster," Brodie said.
Marines from the 31st MEU and Combat Logistics Battalion-31, along with the Seabees, U.S. Coast Guardsmen with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Washington and the soldiers with the Army Corps of Engineers, are working with agencies assess shortfalls of material and supplies to determine how to best support those on Tinian.
The 31st MEU is the only permanently forward-deployed MEU of the seven MEUs that the Marine Corps operates. Its home port is at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler in Okinawa, Japan.
Tinian is the site of a World War II battle fought over two months in 1944 in which Marines, soldiers and sailors took the island from an 8,000-man Japanese garrison as part of the war’s Pacific island-hopping campaign.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.