Hundreds of Pinoys, others in Saipan homeless after typhoon
Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers and other residents in the US island of Saipan are now either living in rain-soaked houses or are totally homeless after Typhoon Soudelor directly hit the territory and damaged almost everything in its path from late Sunday night to early Monday morning.
It was the strongest typhoon to rip through Saipan in over a decade, forcing hundreds of island residents to flee to emergency shelters.
Saipan is the main island in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), where an estimated 10,000 OFWs and Filipino-Americans live and work.
The CNMI’s acting governor, Ralph DLG. Torres, declared a state of emergency for the entire CNMI on Monday morning.
The typhoon ripped off homes, flipped parked vehicles and small planes over, knocked down trees and power poles, flooded the main power plant, caused oil spills, shut down the airport and even blew off the roof of the only movie theater on island.
Many of the roads remained impassable as of Monday night. There were long lines of people and cars as only at least two gasoline stations were open as of Monday afternoon. Stores and other businesses were also closed.
Authorities said it could take weeks for power and water services to be restored in many of the areas.
Despite the devastation, residents were thankful that the typhoon did not claim any lives although there were some injuries reported as people started clearing up typhoon debris.
Dozens of OFWs returning to Saipan from their vacation in the Philippines or the US are also now stranded in the US territory of Guam because the Saipan international airport remains closed. The airport is not expected to reopen until early Wednesday afternoon.
Typhoon Soudelor pummeled Saipan with torrential rain and maximum sustained winds of over 100 miles per hour and gusts up to 120 mph.
Leaders of Filipino groups have started asking their compatriots and other community members to remain strong in the face of the tragedy, to be thankful to be alive, and to help one another.
Before power outages, OFWs and other CNMI residents were posting photos on social media showing their typhoon-damaged homes, as well as roads littered with typhoon debris. Government agencies asked residents to stay indoors Monday.
US agencies are now helping the CNMI government assess the typhoon damage and assist in other immediate needs.
Meanwhile, in Guam, Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio announced Monday his office is organizing two boot drives to help Saipan residents recover from the typhoon.
Other Guam-based groups are also planning fundraising to help typhoon-battered Saipan. —KG, GMA News