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Still recovering from Typhoon Mangkhut myself, I was sent to Rota a day after the typhoon swept through Rota. I was early for a Star Marianas’ first flight out to Rota. Mind you, I had not taken a shower because water was down on Saipan too.
At the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, I was put on standby. Three other passengers and I waited for nearly three hours. I was still sleepy, smelly, and a bit hungry. We were finally able to fly out to Rota at around 2:40pm—about three hours later.
The gloom over Rota was palpable, but I was amazed that the residents remained cheerful and did not miss any chance to say, “Welcome to the island of Luta, we hope you enjoy your stay.”
Scoping the island at around 4pm, I met a man named Benny Lami-ing, who was standing in front of his home that was almost completely wiped out by Mangkhut. Despite losing more than half of his home, Lami-ing still managed to be optimistic.
The Rota Mayor’s Office was bustling with activity, as it was the designated staging area for all the organizations and agencies that were on Rota to aid in relief.
The Valentino Hotel, where the company intended for me to stay for the duration of my visit to Rota, was beautiful but you could tell it took a beating from Typhoon Mangkhut. It had no electricity or water.
At past 7pm, I sped off in my rental car into the pitch-black streets and made my way to Sinapalo 1 where the shelter was. Although I got lost a handful of times, I found the Office on Aging shelter and the relief I felt after seeing the light was unexplainable.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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