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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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