Water stations expected to open today


– FEMA: About 150 power poles destroyed
– 10 generators from Guam to arrive tonight or tomorrow morning

The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. was finalizing yesterday evening its plans to open today four water stations at water reservoirs across the island. However, the locations for these stations were not yet available yesterday as crowd-control and security logistics were still being finalized.

CUC aims to announce details in public radio stations as soon as possible.

CUC public information officer Brad Ruszala told Saipan Tribune they are aiming to “get people their sanitary lives back” with the opening of these water stations.

There has been no public water or sewer services since Typhoon Soudelor left Saipan in a state of disaster.

Ruszala advises residents to bring their 5-gallon water jugs or water containers to the water sites.

He said they would probably be limiting individuals to 100 gallons a person. However, CUC engineers last night were still calculating how much water they could give to people.

Residents would be able to go to the water sites and “fill up for an X amount of gallons,” Ruszala explained.

CUC sees this as a short-term solution until they can get power generation for their water pumps back.

“We are finalizing a plan to have water tomorrow,” acting CUC executive director John Riegel separately said near press time yesterday.

Riegel and CUC staff briefed acting governor Ralph DLG Torres after 10am yesterday morning on Capital Hill.

After their meeting, government cars with Torres, Riegel, and CUC staff were seen leaving the emergency command center at 11:15am for Donni Spring in Tanapag. CUC was working all day yesterday to draw water from the spring to get water to residents but have run into some problems.

“We need to find water trucks to do that. We haven’t yet found any. …We may have to work with vendors to do that,” Riegel told Saipan Tribune over the phone yesterday evening.


Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is bringing 10 125-kilowatt generations from their distribution center in Guam, said Stephen De Blasio, a FEMA coordinator officer on island supporting the Incident Management Team. De Blasio is from FEMA’s Oakland Region 9 office.

The generators are en route to Saipan on a barge. De Blasio said that based on assessments by the CNMI government and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the generators should be able to bring power for water services back.

“They should not be here later than Thursday evening, Friday morning. They will be able to be installed very quickly,” De Blasio told reporters at press conference yesterday morning.

“In addition, we are also bringing in a mixed, combined 50 pack of generators out of our distribution center in Hawaii. Those will be for other needs regarding critical infrastructure and getting [them] back online. It could include wastewater treatment plants as well as the water pump stations if there are any additional needs,” he said.

Acting governor Torres assured that they have been working round the clock to get water services restored.

“I understand the community’s concern with sanitation,” he told both Saipan and Guam reporters in a joint press conference yesterday morning. “I continue to ask for your cooperation and understanding as we move forward. We are working day in and day out to make sure your water supply is a priority. We are working on all the water wells. At the minimum, we will be working on putting water station within each village. We have our CUC and FEMA on the ground as we speakm locating those areas that is feasible for the community to go in and load waters,” the acting governor said.

Torres said the Guam Power Authority flew in 10 staff yesterday, thanking the government of Guam.

He has also made the request for items that CUC would need to restore power back to CUC’s power lines.

Typhoon Soudelor has crippled CUC’s power generation and distribution grid.

De Blasio confirmed that they have estimated a range of 150 power poles completely destroyed.

Damage has also been done to CUC’s wires, transformers and other equipment necessary to bring the grid back up and operational.

“…The power plant itself incurred damage and is offline right now,” De Blasio said.

CUC has no timetable right now for power services to return to the island.

“Generation is one thing but distribution and transmission is another thing…actually getting power up and getting it to where we want to go,” Ruszala told reporters after their morning briefing with Torres.

Yesterday was Saipan’s third day without power and water.

With power poles snapped and strewn across the island, full power restoration is expected to take months.

CUC has advised customers to prepare for an extended power and water outage.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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