HAGATNA, GUAM—Despite reports that North Korea has backed down from its threat to launch nuclear missiles toward this American territory, the US military maintained a heightened alert and deployed a 418-foot combat ship, the USS Coronado.
The whole island was antsy as the world monitored what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would do after he said he would decide whether or not to launch missiles toward Guam on Aug. 15.
Some residents were holding garage sales so they could get off the island, but tourists, including those from Korea, continued to arrive to enjoy the island’s beaches.
Guam Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio confirmed reports from Pyongyang that Kim had said he would hold off on the missile launch, but vowed to “wring the windpipes of the Yankees if the US persists in its extremely dangerous reckless actions.”
Guam Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros said the US military was “not scaling down its defense.”
“The US military defense will remain on high alert and the condition of readiness continues,” he said.
The USS Coronado, which is now docked at the Apra Harbor, carried armaments and Seahawk aircraft.
The deployment of the warship came before North Korean leader was photographed holding a baton pointing at a map that says “Strategic Force Firing Strike Plan.”
The photo showed a flight path for the missiles appearing to start from North Korea’s east coast then over Japan toward Guam.
Tenorio said they were in constant communication with Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield.
Contingency planning in several government agencies continued.
The Guam Judiciary held a whole-day briefing with its 400 plus employees and discussed emergency precautions and what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.
Shawn Gumataotao, Guam judiciary director for policy planning and community relations, said court marshals and probation officers will lead the crisis management team.
Filipino-American Senator Dennis Rodriguez, chairman of legislative health committee, assured the public that Guam hospitals and health care facilities were ready and prepared to attend to Guam residents and visitors during a crisis.
“There are concerns about it but we have enough protection. We are safe, we have protection from God and we have strong military protection aside from the fact that our island is very resilient. We go through a lot of natural disasters here and we are always prepared and act the way we treat a potential disaster or calamity,” Rodriguez said.
He said three hospitals and public health facilities were always at the ready and had been doing a lot of drills to prepare the employees and staff for any catastrophic event or crisis.
Ignoring North Korea’s nuclear threat, Jin Su Park and wife Mon Park from South Korea were enjoying their fourth day on the island snorkeling and swimming along Sta. Fe Beach front and said they were aware of the nuclear threat but that they were not scared about it.
Local residents and tourists from Japan, Korea and Taiwan were enjoying the island beaches and businesses and life on the island remained normal.
But the spouse of a military member from Andersen Air Force base expressed her fears and launched a GoFundMe fundraising asking for financial donations so she can afford plane tickets for her and her two sons to leave the island.
Racheal Rademacher said on her Facebook account that she needs to raise $6,000 to get her family off the island as soon as possible.
“With all the sudden threats to Guam, I am not willing to risk the lives of my children,” Rademacher wrote.
Rademacher’s GoFundMe account was no longer on the site after she was able to raise $270 and received unsupportive remarks about her fundraising.
There was a slight increase in the number of families selling off their personal properties and household appliances as they planned to leave the island.
Virgie Mesa of Dededo posted that they were moving off-island and selling everything in their house as soon as possible.
Mesa would not say, however, if her departure was related to the threat from North Korea.
A number of online sellers in a local site put “moving off island” as their reason they were selling their household belongings.
In Manila, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano gave instructions to all embassies abroad to make sure contingency plans were in place and up-to-date.
He then called on Filipinos in Guam, South Korea and Japan to stay calm and keep in touch with their nearest Philippine consulate stationed there. With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan
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