Champi knocks out Tinian water supply

Public school classes on Tinian, work for non-essential Tinian employees cancelled today

Tropical Storm Champi, which strengthened into a typhoon after blowing through the Marianas on Friday, brought gusty winds of up to 70 miles per hour and torrential rain that caused flashfloods and erosion to Saipan and Tinian.

According to the National Weather Service in Guam, Champi dumped 24.77 inches of rain on Tinian from midnight until 4pm of Friday. Saipan, on the other hand, received 11.71 inches of rain during the 18-hour precipitation period.

A flame tree that survived Typhoon Soudelor finally succumbed to the strong winds brought by Typhoon Champi on Friday, smashing a recycling bin near a pavilion across Girl Talk, Beach Road in Garapan. (Ferdie de la Torre)

A flame tree that survived Typhoon Soudelor finally succumbed to the strong winds brought by Typhoon Champi on Friday, smashing a recycling bin near a pavilion across Girl Talk, Beach Road in Garapan. (Ferdie de la Torre)

Champi tracked closer to Saipan, passing between the island and Anatahan after it dipped a little southward on Friday, a change from the previous expected track that would have taken it north of Anatahan. The closest point of approach was 48 nautical miles from Saipan.

With over two feet of rain, Tinian sustained major flooding and damage to roads, including the one they call Carolinas Road going up to the residence of Antonio Borja, which led to the disruption of most of the water services on the island.

“We had major flooding and damage to any areas within Tinian. The gravel roads were heavily damaged. One of them, which sits on top of the main waterline, resulted in the damage of that waterline, making it so that we’re not able to provide water to about 70 percent of our residents,” Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas said.

“We are without water at this time.”

San Nicolas said they have deployed water tankers and opened up water stations for residents at the Tinian Gymnasium and Marpo Heights.

“The 30 percent that have water, they’re joined from a different source,” he said.

San Nicolas said they already reached out to the Office of Homeland Security and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to provide them materials needed to repair the broken waterline.

“We’re working with Homeland Security and CUC to bring down very much needed pipes so that we can fix those broken pipes,” he said.

The Tinian mayor said they are looking at chartering a vessel or a plane to bring the materials to the island either today or tomorrow. Once the materials arrive, San Nicolas said they are looking at fixing the pipes within the day. “We hope to have the pipes fixed by tomorrow at the latest on Tuesday.”

Due to the water situation and potential sanitation issues, the Municipality of Tinian has declared no classes for all public schools on the island today and no work for all non-essential municipal employees also today.

Tinian also experienced power interruption due to Champi but it was restored within 24 hours. One shelter was opened but residents who sought shelter were all able to go back to their homes.

San Nicolas said they will continue with their cleanup around the island today.

“I would like to thank Office of Homeland Security, the Governor’s Office, CUC, and the people of Tinian for their patience,” San Nicolas said.

Floods, islandwide power outage

On Saipan, many roads were submerged in several inches of water, with almost more than a day of non-stop rain and some were also damaged by erosion and flash floods over the weekend.

“Flooding has subsided but there are still some spots that have standing water,” press secretary Ivan Blanco said Sunday.

“Some of the roads that were impassable after the storm, they are being fixed by the Mayor’s Office and Department of Public Works,” Blanco said.

He added that assessment report on the roads that were damaged will be available today.

“Kannat Tabla was one of the major roads that was badly damaged from the storm; they had it fixed [Saturday],” Blanco said.

A secondary road across XO Market on Middle Road was also fixed.

“That whole road was washed down,” Blanco said.

Some roads in Kagman also reportedly sustained damage.

Blanco said assessments on homes were done on Saturday and there was not much new damage from Champi.

“It was a good scare but I think people were prepared. They got ready,” he said.

Over 300 residents sought refuge in five schools and two centers that were opened up for shelters starting Thursday night. Those residents were able to go home after the passage of Champi.

Cancelled, delayed flights

Due to the inclement weather, United Airlines cancelled five flights heading to Saipan from Guam on Saturday, according to a statement from the airline and

Other major airline flights were either cancelled or delayed. But the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport remained open, according to the CNMI Joint Information Center.

The Port of Saipan, meanwhile, was closed on Friday due to hazardous wave conditions.

Flights set to arrive at 3:35am, 8:05am, 1pm, 5:35pm, and 9:20pm were cancelled, according to

Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, announced on their website that flights to and from Saipan may be affected by Tropical Storm Champi.

A Delta flight that was set to arrive at 3:05pm on Friday was delayed until the next day, arriving on Saipan on Saturday at 2:07am, according to

Inter-island flights were cancelled Friday as well, according to JIC.

Storm update

Tropical storm conditions on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota were last to be cancelled at 8am on Saturday, while conditions for Alamagan, Pagan, and Agrihan were cancelled Friday evening.

As of 2pm yesterday, Typhoon Champi was located 475 miles northwest of Saipan and had maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. It was still expected to intensify further through today before beginning a slow weakening trend.

Champi was moving north-northwest at 5 mph and was expected to turn toward the north last night and to the northeast over the next few days. (With Dennis B. Chan)

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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