13 Dec 2002

Rota and Guam struggle to recover from super-typhoon

4:36 pm on 13 December 2002

The US government is about to send officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Northern Mariana island of Rota.

This follows the declaration by President George Bush that the island is a disaster area after the destruction caused by super-typhoon Pongsona.

Rota is faced with electricity, food and fuel shortages but as an official disaster area it can now rely on full federal assistance to clean up the damage.

Civil defence officials are still assessing the storm's full impact but say dozens of houses have been destroyed and a number of the island's population of four thousand have been made homeless.

Meanwhile, the nearby US territory of Guam continues to struggle to restore services after the weekend devastation.

A fire at the Guam tanker farm has crippled communications as all petrol stations remain closed.

Until the fire is extinguished, no fuel is sold to the public while efforts are made to share the remaining supplies among emergency services.

The telephone authority has less than a fifth of its vehicles operational as it tries to restore services.

The fire has also closed the port, preventing the docking of ships to bring in more supplies.

Emergency managements staff say about half of the water wells are inoperable.

The National Guard is trying to purify water from the Hagatna boat basin to help alleviate the island's water shortage.

Power to the Guam Memorial Hospital is yet to be fully restored while it may take up to a week to complete the damage assessment on the island