N. Marianas still without power after typhoon
Many people in a U.S. Pacific territory ravaged by a deadly super typhoon lost everything, but residents say they are resilient and must focus on the long recovery ahead.
The U.S. government is sending supplies to the Northern Marianas as residents dig through crumbled houses, smashed cars and fallen utility poles after Super Typhoon Yutu struck Thursday as a Category 5 storm.
“The rebuilding of this island is beginning already as time waits for nobody,” Jan Reyes, who lives on the territory’s most populated island of Saipan, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Despite the casualties, we the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are resilient people.”
To help the recovery, military planes brought in food, water, tarps and other supplies.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman David Gervino said the agency is focused on helping restore power, opening sea and air ports, and ensuring cellphone towers can operate on emergency power until electricity returns.
Super Typhoon Yutu packed maximum sustained winds of 180 mph as it passed over the islands of Tinian and Saipan, the National Weather Service said. By Saturday, power was still out across Saipan, with 50,000 residents, and Tinian, with 3,000 people.
The strongest storm to hit any part of the United States this year overturned cars, crushed small planes, ripped off roofs and killed a woman who took shelter in an abandoned building that collapsed. Others were injured, including three people who needed surgery.
Many homes were destroyed because some families can’t afford concrete homes that conform to building codes meant to withstand typhoon winds, said Edwin Propst, a member of the territory’s House of Representatives.
Some people build houses with concrete foundations and walls but the structures have wooden or tin roofs.