Saipan Soudelor inventory


The legendary Pohnpei chief’s name will be with us awhile but a good month after Typhoon Soudelor’s swirl through Saipan left a trail of electrical pole destruction, it is now showing signs of life rebounding. A United4Saipan pickup full of bottled drinking water showed up one afternoon at our “village” to quench the thirst. TY.

The verdant fields are back, tangan-tangan shoots barely missing a beat. The numerous standing trees that survived Soudelor’s wrath, including the trees whose fruits fill our down pillows, stay majestic in their stead.

The snapped wooden and contorted metal poles at the CUC station on lower Chalan Msgr. Guerrero have since been replaced with cement ones. The four in front of the relay station are wired and fitted, “dressed up ready for the prom,” but remains to be connected to the grid as the remainder of the damaged poles are replaced on Beach Road. 

Generating power remains a big question mark. While it may be a month before the lines are fully connected, it is hoped that the issue of generators shall be settle by then. The streetlights from Lower Base to Quartermaster Road are a good sign, and aside from the hospital, Garapan seems to have gotten the light of night.

Local institutions were not short on demand for all sizes of generators that off-island sources had been quick to fill up. FEMA representatives made the rounds to check on damage and power generating equipment a couple of weeks before pre-school and elementary levels are scheduled to open doors.

But a gung-ho administrator was frustrated at not being able to mobilize the PTA and volunteers to put her school in operational condition lest any effort before FEMA inspection invalidates reimbursement. The rate of assistance has been decreed to be 90 percent feds and 10 percent local.

The Joeten-Kiyu Public Library needs power and water so it can get its literate audience to its tables and shelves. Not exactly one that serves the immediate physical needs of the masses, we also know that humans operate out of images, and images are self-created, or constructed through social memory and the library serves not a few to massage the imagination with literary works on a regular basis. It is welcome news that the library intends to open week after Labor Day.

One “customer” relishes driving regularly to peruse the public library collection and pore copies of periodicals, magazines, and dailies, as prolific writer Gary Dubrall used to do before hightailing it to Hawaii. It is now a month since Soudelor interrupted this daily routine. 

But if restoring power production capability and installing sturdy distribution lines are making progress, numerous volunteers eagerly follow after DPW crew cutting down snapped trunks and sawing the felled branches and trees into manageable pieces. 

In a spot by the tank on Quartermaster Road near the open mini-amphitheater was a tree we planted more than a decade ago, “re-planted” with visiting Rotarians of Japan. The original tree between the tank and the decade-old but yet-to-be utilized waterless restroom, along with the plants above the theatre’s semicircular tiered seats, wilted badly during a lengthy drought but survived with occasional drenching of five-gallon bottled CUC water on the back of my pickup truck. Photo-op Rotarians provided a more robust tree.

Anyway, the tree a decade later before Soudelor was verdant, horizontally impressive rather than vertical as roots hit salty water a meter down. After the storm, the cleanup crew dumped their cuttings on the 3-foot tree that survived the storm but could not breath under the pile of debris. I doff my hat to the arbor’s resilience, resigned that it would not survive the pathway’s cleanup. The lawn between the tank and the restroom is now bare of a tree, and I now recite a quatrain of Requiem to a Tree each time I pass by the spot.

We are being lighthearted here but I see the situation from the fortunate side compared to the majority on island devoid of life’s basic logistics. In the heat of summer, I get to shower and shave at least, once a day.

There is plenty of blame passed around, especially after Abramoff’s law firm took many to the cleaners, and the CNMI is unable to shake off being beholden to the feds that value its military strategic location in the western Pacific.

But a month after Soudelor is our focus, and though the current lame duck situation is caused by factors before the typhoon, the 6,000 homes that sought disaster assistance speak volume. Being on the dole reinforced a lifestyle already in vogue.

In the post-Soudelor hiatus, I am resigned to ouch the hair under my double chin after the corrosive air did our Braun shaver in, then brush off the encrusted sediments on near shore seashells I gathered rather than the fresh ones on the reef after we nearly floated to Tinian on the Sugar Dock breach one sundown, gratefully humming, amazing grace!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at

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