After the storm, and the stunned phase, we assessed ourselves ensuring everyone was okay. We looked at each other and our island and realized we had a long road ahead. To compound that, we had no water, no power, no clean clothes, and I was usually dirty and hot. There was so much damage and chaos, homes torn apart, twisted and thrashed trees, downed power poles everywhere. We did not know where to begin. Only doom and gloom it seemed.
Then I remembered a quote whose author eludes me, but it went… “The smallest light shines brightest in the darkest places.”
It was then that I realized Saipan’s Solidarity. Solidly we stood together in the wake of Typhoon Souldelor. We did not lie down. Rather, we stood up, dusted ourselves off, and began cleaning up, helping each other along the way. We stood in line for everything it seemed, but were orderly as any civilized people. Even in the longest gas lines in America since the 1973’s oil embargo, we still made access points for others to cross the gas lines safely. Instead of losing it, we talked story and asked how each was doing. Shook hands, chewed betel nut and stood in line for ice (the legal kind).
Many more are homeless now and much was lost, but we are islanders and Saipan is our home and our fellow islanders our family. “Sharing is caring” is a phrase I learned on Saipan in 1991 as a Sophomore Dolphin at MHS—when there used to be electricity.
I saw differences disregarded as we suffered together. “Misery loves company,” they say.
No discrimination found and total inclusion of our people with disabilities everywhere, including the shelters.
Saipan Strong became our slogan and tourists are still coming. The young people of Saipan have come out in overwhelming numbers volunteering everywhere I look. Though we still have bad apples, they are few and far between. You know who you are, you copper thief, line cutter, gas siphoner, generator hauler, and regular old burglar. Shame on you, says Gary & Gordon on KKMP, especially now!
ARC and FEMA have been added to our lexicon.
Words alone cannot express the gratitude in my heart for everyone who helped, are helping, and will continue to help repair our broken but proud home.
Now lights are coming back, “Getting better every day,” posts Marianas Eye Institute.
NMPASI is back in business normalcy and attire. Please call our regular numbers, (670) 235-7273 or 4, fax and/or tty at 235-7275, or online at www.nmpasi.org.
A giant thank you to CUC, and all who are assisting from Guam, Palau, Yap, Pohnpei and Chuuk to help until Saipan shines again.
Our world famous Beach Road is beautiful again and the pathway is walkable. Thank you MOS, DPW, Park & Recs, and U.S. Marines.
Donations are coming in to Saipan from all points. Former residents who left a piece of them here. Recovery folks need more space for all this aid. Thank you all for your generosity; it will go a long way.
Our job is still not done, but… Solid is our island, solid are our people, and together, we shall overcome!
Now raise your right hand and put it on your left shoulder and tap three times. That’s from me to you. You’re doing a great job, Saipan resident, great job! I, for one, am proud to live alongside the best people on Earth. Thomas M. Thornburgh (Special to the Saipan Tribune)