Tinian slowly gets back up—thanks to military aid


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Air Force are now working to resolve water distribution issues on Tinian.

Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, who continues to provide update on their recovery efforts on Facebook, said Wednesday that a ship carrying 4,000 gallons of water has arrived at the seaport.

The water was acquired through a private contractor and will be distributed to the Tinian Elementary School that is currently being used as a shelter for displaced families, the Tinian Health Center, and the Tinian Municipal Operations Center.

San Nicolas said that getting the Maui Well to distribute water to the entire island is the No. 1 priority, with Army engineers working on it. A 400-kilowatt generator arrived on Monday and was immediately installed at the Marpo Valley pump station.

“[The generator] was successfully placed at the Maui Well and, for a very short while, water was being released in to the villages. However, there were so many leaks within the island that it compromised the whole operation,” said San Nicolas.

That means they had to suspend the operation. He said CUC and Army engineers continue to work on the issues facing the Maui Well pump station.

San Nicolas also said the Air Force has also been putting together a reverse osmosis system at Kammer Beach and would soon begin processing seawater.

“At this point, we can’t state on when the distribution of that water will occur but I can state that equipment and facility is down there. There are some tests that are being done. …It also takes some time to process the seawater and convert it to drinkable water. Once we’re ready to operate the distribution center, we will let the public know and provide more information as to the procedure that will be in place so that there would be an efficient and fair distribution of water.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the CNMI Governor’s Office helped bring the reverse osmosis system to Tinian with USAF personnel assembling and setting it up at Kammer Beach.

San Nicolas said that they are also looking at using the pump station used by the Tinian Cattlemen’s Association for their cows as a non-potable water source. The well is located near Broadway heading toward the Tinian International Airport.

The well, however, needs to be connected to a generator. “Once connected, we hope that could be a source of non-potable water that could be used for cleaning things or taking showers. This is not yet ready and we’re waiting for a 30-kW generator.”

Gas stations

San Nicolas also reported that representatives from FEMA, Joint Region Marianas, and Mobil Oil Marianas were on island to assess the Tinian fuel and SN5 gas stations where they are trying to determine the extent of the damage of both facilities.

“[They are] trying to determine how to get both sites up and running…The Tinian fuel service station has minor issues and, with the help of the Mobil Oil Marianas, we’re hopeful that they will be back online soon,” he said.

“SN5 is working hard to get back online. They are also working closely with the technician and had identified the problems in their facility. It is a little more difficult because it has been compromised due to the storm but they are identifying the solutions to the problems.”

Good news

Tinian’s roads have been 85 to 90 percent cleared of typhoon debris like broken power poles, cables and wires, and fallen trees and branches. “Debris had been pushed aside so that people can now drive on the roads.”

“The debris clearing was done in the cooperation of FEMA and JRM. It is our understanding that Marines and Seabees are coming, bringing in equipment to assist in our efforts to clear our island of debris. Close to 100 or more will join in the cleanup efforts on Tinian,” said San Nicolas.

San Nicolas added that those in the island that would need road-clearing assistance near their houses should call 483-1803 so they could also relay the information to Department of Public Works personnel.

He said shuttle services are also being offered to residents who need to go to the relief distribution center at the Tinian Gymnasium or to buy things in stores.

Stores in San Jose village had also resumed its operations with 3K Mart, J.J. Mart, Lucky Chang, and Tinian Ice & Water selling dry goods and drinking water. FEMA is also distributing drinking water at the Tinian gym.

The pickup points for the shuttle service are at the Marpo Heights bus station near David Evangelista’s residence, Marpo Valley across former senator David Cing’s house, and Carolinas Heights down the road from Patrick San Nicolas’ residence.

The Department of Public Safety and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services are providing the transportation services that begins at 8:30am. The service is to pick up residents and drop them off either at the Tinian gym or for them to buy items at the stores.

Distribution of meals ready to eat and humanitarian daily rations continue at the Tinian gym distribution center where people with special needs—the elderly, homebound patients, and the disabled—are the priority.

Another temporary shelter was opened at the Natibu Park where several families are currently staying and have also been receiving food and water. A portable toilet will also be provided while the American Red Cross-NMI Chapter continues to provide assistance to the shelterees.

Patients or residents who might need medical assistance should either call 911 or 433-9222 for ambulance pickup. The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is working with Star Marianas if they needed to be airlifted to the Commonwealth Health Center.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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