A REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK
Community members immediately got down to the business of cleaning up their homes and yards just hours after Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan and Tinian. Government employees in their hazard jackets were clearing main highways that is cluttered with fallen trees, broken tin roofs, and damaged telephone poles and lines.
Several community members also made an effort to help government employees in clearing main highways. A stray dog is seen eating out of trash bins that were blown far from its original site.
Houses that used to hide behind overgrown trees are now visible. From Capital Hill, Managaha Island and the ocean can now be seen clearly without any obstruction. Motorists are dodging trees and broken branches on roads to get to their destinations.
Roofs of houses on Capital Hill toward Puerto Rico are heavily damaged. Most of the debris have been cleared from the Puerto Rico main highway, but roads leading into Navy Hill remained blocked by large trees. Rep. BJ Attao was seen clearing the area with several other people.
The Saipan Troop Store base has a lot of fallen trees.
Traffic lights are down but traffic is flowing peacefully. Everyone seemed to be heading in one direction, toward Middle Road Gualo Rai.
The Shell gas station on Middle Road has rows and rows of cars lining up all the way to the Chalan Lau Lau traffic intersection. People are lining up with gas containers as well.
Beach Road looks totally damaged. Telephone poles look like they are about to fall. Mobil Gas Station has a fallen telephone pole at its front. Commonwealth Utilities Corp. employees are directing traffic in but not out of the gas station. Thai House Restaurant and Caesar Spa are heavily damaged.
The Liberation Festivities grounds is overwhelmed with broken trees and branches. The stage looks damaged, while bright Liberation Festivities posters are flying everywhere.
Bank cards were not being accepted, and a woman says that she couldn’t withdraw money from First Hawaiian Bank.
At the Shell gas station, more cars pull in to take advantage of the small line with gas containers, probably not wanting to wait in a long line with their cars.
People are parking their cars. Are they out of gas? A man is pushing a large silver SUV little by little while another is helping him on the other side. Others are pushing their cars as well.
A telephone pole blocks the traffic in Chalan Kiya, causing cars to use the left side of the road heading up to As Terlaje.
Heading up to As Terlaje, a lot of telephone poles are leaning down. A CUC facility has telephone poles leaning on it, its gate broken. People’s houses on the left and right side are more visible.
Tin roofs are everywhere, rooftops are gone, doors and windows are shattered. People are seen sifting through the wreckage for important items. More poles are down in San Vicente. A car is stuck on top of a fallen telephone pole. Did it try to drive over? A car is flipped under the traffic light intersection.
Parked at San Vicente Elementary School. Children are playing on the basketball court, while adults mingle around the cafeteria. Tables are laid out with people’s belongings. Others are eating and talking.
A baby cries, the mother takes the baby out to get it to stop. Another mother is washing dishes outside of the cafeteria. It looks like there are about 40 people inside the shelter. The shelter watchers or volunteers are using radio to communicate.
More than 30 people are at the Kagman Community Center. Several of the shelter watchers or people in charge are constantly attending to them. Kagman High School is full of people. Head count of about 104, if not more. Buses are parked outside at KHS, including several cars of worried family members checking up.
Sixty patients have come in to receive emergency care, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muna. Most of them are from lacerations, others are deeper.
“Hospital staff has been busy, especially the Emergency Room nurses and doctors. We are working night and day,” Muna said.
Confirming if a baby was born in an ambulance during the typhoon while heading up to the hospital, Muna says yes; however, no details were further disclosed.
One big issue is that the hospital is running on reserve from its backup generator, and Muna is hoping CUC can restore its power soon, because the hospital might not have enough and isn’t ready.
Muna said that clinics are open. A staffer for the Family Care Clinic said that appointments are needed before being accommodated.
Muna said there isn’t any confirmed deaths or fatalities.
Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas said they are close to full restoration of power and water services, which is now 90 percent and is expected to be up 100 percent by today, Aug. 4.
“We’re doing assessment at this point with U.S Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA. Doing assessment and especially the area of critical facilities such as the hospital, schools, police, and airport, fire department,” San Nicolas said.
“There were a few homes that were heavily damaged. We had during the storm about 16 people and now there is a family that is being accommodated due to the destruction and need long term shelter. They’re not at the shelter at this point but are being accommodated at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino,” he added.
All areas of Tinian got equal share of the damage.
“We have several poles down but its nothing compared to Saipan and we would like to give big thanks to the folks at Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, emergency responders and acting governor Ralph Torres for their assistance. We understand that Saipan is totally damaged and we’re praying for our brothers and sisters for a quick recovery,” he added.