26 Oct 2018

Tinian's mayor says the island has been devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu

11:31 am on 26 October 2018

The mayor of the Northern Marianas island of Tinian, Joey Patrick San Nicolas, says the island experienced devastation it hasn't seen before when Super Typhoon Yutu hit on Thursday.

Tinian after Yutu has blown through

Tinian after Yutu has blown through Photo: Supplied/ Edwin Sta.Theresa

As the super typhoon moves away from the Marianas region, extensive damage to critical infrastructure on Saipan and Tinian has left the Commonwealth devastated with many families displaced.

Mr San Nicolas said 30 people had been rescued by the island's emergency responders and 70 people are currently sheltering at Tinian's evacuation centres.

Mr San Nicolas said many homes have been destroyed and Tinian's physical infrastructure has been compromised, while the island remains without power or water and its airports and seaports are currently inaccessible.

Earlier, it had been confirmed that the typhoon had claimed the life of a 44-year-old local woman on Saipan in the Northern Marianas.

The Office of the Governor reported that she died from injuries sustained after an abandoned building in Chalan Kanoa she sought shelter in collapsed during the height of Yutu.

Typhoon Yutu damage

Photo: Twitter/ @_ryreyes

"This is an unfortunate incident as CNMI and federal partners focus on life-saving and life-sustaining operations," a statement from the Office of the Governor said.

Relief and recovery efforts are now well underway as the CNMI government is taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of all residents in the Marianas.

Governor Ralph Torres said the Commonwealth's first responders remain vigilant and working around the clock by clearing roadways, tending to damaged infrastructure, and providing support for our displaced residents.

He said Yutu was the worst storm to hit the Marianas since Typhoon Jean back in 1968.

Mr Torres also reported that all shelters on Saipan and Tinian are at full capacity. There are about 840 people in shelters, and that number is expected to increase as displaced residents continue to seek safety.

All schools also remain closed, while non-critical government personnel also have no work until the Governor signals the all clear.

Meanwhile, the Guam Daily Post is reporting that clearing debris from the Saipain International Airport runway has been one of the main priorities for the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that emergency supplies can be flown in.

Members of the public are still being urged to remain in their homes until the roads can be cleared and they have also been asked as much as possible to keep in touch with family and relatives via social media and try and keep the phone lines clear for emergency services.

Damage on Saipan after Typhoon Yutu.

Damage on Saipan after Typhoon Yutu. Photo: Twitter/ @TaotaoTasi

Stories of survival

Our correspondent on Saipan, Mark Rabago, said there are some amazing stories of survival like a mother and her children, who were not evacuated because their house was deemed strong enough to withstand the typhoon.

"The roof of their neighbours crashed into their windows so it was blown open. The power of the wind and the rain was so much that they had to go to the fartherest part of the house and basically really using a thin piece of plywood to shield them from the elements," he said.

"And they were doing that from I think 12:30 [am] to 3:00[am] and they were like praying, literally holding on for dear life."

Mr Rabago said he also saw incredible displays of resilience with people already starting to pick up the pieces of their homes.

Caused by Super Typhoon Yutu

Caused by Super Typhoon Yutu Photo: Mark Rabago

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