Northern Marianas residents struggling to regain normality
Residents in the Northern Marianas are struggling to regain normality to their lives, four days after Typhoon Soudelor struck on Sunday night.
Residents in the Northern Marianas are struggling to regain normality to their lives, more than four days after Typhoon Soudelor struck on Sunday night.
Most residents are without power and water and the hospital says a crisis will occur if it continues to use its generators as equipment, including CT scanners cannot be used without reliable electricity.
Koro Vaka'uta spoke to our correspondent in Saipan, Mark Rabago for an update on the situation.
MARK RABAGO: We're slowly picking up the pieces with the help of course of the federal government. The local government here are trying to get the basic services on. Of course the majority of the island who don't have generation of power, who have no generators, still don't have power and still have no water. CUC, the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, the utilities here are down. Almost 400 power poles are down so they cannot generate power which in turn they cannot pump water back to the main system. The basic necessities are water, food and shelter. Last I heard was that more than 384 houses were destroyed. The CUC opened up a water cistern that people could go there and get per person 100 gallons of water each. Slowly we're get back to our feet. The federal government, I think, is sending 100 power generators to island so that CUC can operate their water system back so slowly but surely we're getting back.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Who are stepping into meet these needs?
MR: Federal government, the US Coastguard just did a clean-up. There was a fuel leak in one of the Mobil storage tanks in Puerto Rico near the port so they cleaned that up. That kind of resulted in an artificial fuel shortage where people more or less had to line-up for hours. Me, for instance, I lined up almost 3 hours yesterday to get 50 dollars worth of gas. Aside from that the government of Guam already pledged some help with technical assistance sending some supplies here. What we really need is potable water and shelter and food.
KV: We saw images of debris strewn across the island. Is that being worked on as well?
MR: The roads are much, much better now. They are more passable. Downed power lines have been fixed by the CUC but there are still some. I think that was one of the problems especially driving at night as there was no light. Everybody has to be careful when driving on Saipan right now. The main thoroughfares they are cleaned up but it's the other streets, the secondary streets, there are still some trees that are fallen and some power lines that are fallen.
KV: We did hear concerns that possibly residents on Saipan were unprepared or not prepared fully for this event.
MR: Before the typhoon hit us, three more typhoons has passed us that were expected to hit Saipan but didn't. There was a false sense of security for residents here and probably even the government. We didn't really get that over-exaggerated warning that would make people jump from their seats and prepare for a typhoon. I think there were some shortcomings from government and also the people here who didn't prepare well. Our apartment for example, didn't have any storm shutters on. Unlike before where police went from house to house especially in low-lying areas susceptible to typhoons. There was no police knocking on doors telling people to move to a more secure place. Everyone in the CNMI didn't expect this storm to be this strong and to hit us directly.
Meanwhile United States President Barack Obama has signed a major disaster declaration for the CNMI.
In his request for a declaration, the acting governor put the damage to the CNMI at 20-milllion US dollars.
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