No injuries, but still no power on Rota


The patio roof of Pizzaria Bar & Grill in Songsong Village on Rota is partially collapsed in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar last Wednesday night. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Although power service has yet to be restored on Rota, water service is now back on the island, which was spared of any major injuries or casualties, according to Rota Mayor Aubry Hocog, who said the initial assessment in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar showed that the island sustained only minor injuries to residents from the Category 4 typhoon.

“We are very blessed to report that there are no serious injuries or major damage to our island. During the preliminary assessment, we had some fallen trees and other debris that were blocking road access. We immediately cleared that to ensure that our emergency personnel would be able to transport any of our Rota residents to the hospital if need be,” she told Saipan Tribune.

She added that the Rota Mayor’s Office is now working with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. on restoring power service.

“Access to water is available now. Also, CUC is offering up to 50 gallons of water for every family to utilize but has issued a boil water notice with it. The power division will be mobilized once the ‘all clear’ signal has been issued to focus on restoring power to the island,” said Hocog.

Separately, Rep. Julie A. Ogo (Ind-Rota) said they did sustain some structural damage such as fallen power poles, and damaged outside kitchen/garages.

As of 4pm, 21 Rota residents are in designated shelters and are just awaiting the “all clear” signal to be issued to return home.

Department of Public Works personnel are also out clearing the secondary roads for residents to be able to move freely.

“The port of entry is our main priority but [the Commonwealth Ports Authority] is waiting for the signal so that authorized personnel will be allowed on site to assist with the debris removal. This way, we can anticipate the arrival of supplies and equipment needed that will be utilized towards our recovery efforts,” said Hocog.

Hocog also thanked the administration of Gov. Arnold I. Palacios for their past and future support as Rota begins its recovery from Mawar.

“We are so grateful to Gov. Palacios, Lt. Gov. [David M.] Apatang, [CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management] special assistant Franklin Babauta, all the government departments, autonomous agencies, private sector, and federal partners for their support and assistance in ensuring that our people will get all needed resources to be able to begin our recovery phase from this typhoon. We send our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters from the neighboring island of Guam as they too will be recovering from Typhoon Mawar and there were more reports of damage and flooding on their island. We know our people will come together and share resources and support and we are very fortunate that our federal partners are ready to assist however they can.”

Hocog earlier said they’re also awaiting the declaration of the “all clear” on Rota to continue their post-assessment.

“We have not gotten ‘all clear’ status until later this evening. We are still experiencing strong wind gusts,” she said.

It was earlier reported that Palacios would declare the “all-clear” for Rota last night and Ogo said this will allow the municipality to start assessing the damage.

“We’re hoping to get a flight out once the airlines resume flights,” she said.

Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) told Saipan Tribune yesterday that power service on Rota hasn’t been restored yet, but water service is back on the island.

Manglona said island infrastructure damage assessments are ongoing, including on Commonwealth Utilities Corp. power poles and drop lines.

“We appreciate our mayor and the resident department/agency heads who are hard at work,” the senator said.

At Valentino Hotel, Vicky Simanca said they currently have no guests. She, however, expects the Sinapalo hotel to become busy in the next couple of days as Federal Emergency Management Agency and Commonwealth Utilities Corp. personnel descend on Rota to conduct damage assessment and help with recovery efforts.

While the worst of Typhoon Mawar seemed to have passed, former Saipan resident Juan Pan Guerrero said they were still experiencing strong winds and heavy rain yesterday afternoon.

“The worst is over, but the wind is still strong here on Rota. Lots of vegetation damage and maybe the whole farming sector is gone,” he said.

Fortunately, some of the houses have concrete roofing, so there’s not many homes that have lost their tin roofs, he added.

“From the looks of it, Rota is really not that damaged but [Internet and mobile lines] are out. …Power lines and poles in some areas may be down and most houses are wet from the rainwater,” said the owner of Island A-Heart Retail.

Private sector effort

Tan Holding and Triple J Saipan Inc. said they will help their companies and employees on Rota and Guam affected by Mawar.

Tan Holdings Corporate Business Development vice president Alex Sablan said the company will dispatch teams to Rota and Guam early this morning.

Sablan himself will lead a four-man team to Rota, while 14 personnel will fly to Guam to help with the cleanup there.

“[We’re] leaving tomorrow on the first flight. …[We’re] loading supplies, tools, and material needed for immediate repair,” he said.

Triple J marketing manager Brad Ruszala said while he’s still gathering information, the company is definitely assessing the damage.

“Most importantly, our folks need to ensure their personal situations are taken care of so we can move forward across the business fronts. We got off relatively easy on Saipan and Tinian when compared to Guam and we will assist when and where we can,” he told Saipan Tribune.

At 5pm yesterday, Typhoon Mawar was moving west-northwest at 7 mph. A continued forward motion toward the west-northwest is expected during the next two days. It has now regained its super typhoon status, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. Mawar is forecast to intensify today, Friday.


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