Coastguard Kiska’s crew traveled to Saipan on Saturday, unloading supplies donated by citizens of neighboring Guam to help hungry and homeless people in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu.
They joined a continuous flow of federal aid to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Category 5 storm directly affected Saipan and Tinian early Thursday, cutting off electricity, cutting off tap water to now roofless homes and carving a path of supernatural destruction that left roads draped in felled trees. airports closed and trucks overturned in heavy gusts.
Tinian was battered by sustained winds of 178 miles per hour, making it the most powerful cyclone on record to hit U.S. soil, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And it’s not over. With winds gusting to 196 mph and pushing waves of 55 feet, Yutu is about 1,000 miles northeast of Manila, followed on a west-northwest collision course with the northern Philippines or Taiwan, depending on Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor.
“Guam did pretty well,” said Lt. Cmdr. Karl Lettow, spokesperson for the Mariana Joint Region, Wednesday. “There have been no reports of significant damage. “
This is important, Lettow said, because it allowed Guam to quickly become the main staging area for sending aid 128 miles north of Tinian.
“We are fully mission capable and we will be supporting FEMA, the lead agency,” Lettow said. “Helping our neighbors in this part of the world is our most important mission. “
Reached on his cell phone in Saipan, Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman David Gervino told the Navy Times on Friday that the rescue and relief plan was going well.
As Commonwealth first responders focused on saving and sustaining lives, FEMA and other federal agencies worked hard to help restore power and water; unravel the grid of land, sea and air transport; and transporting large amounts of food and water to the islands.
Generators kept most of the cell phone towers running, the radio network for local first responders was working again, and a team of 58 U.S. Health and Social Services staff were helping to equip Saipan Hospital with staff.
Similar teams from the Department of Transport, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense have deployed across the islands to assess damage, clear debris and bring the Commonwealth back as close to normal as possible, said Gervino.
There should be plenty of food and water. FEMA counted an estimated 133,000 liters of bottled water and 127,000 packaged meals near Guam before Typhoon Mangkhut struck Rota on September 10, but the swift and extensive assistance of Navy Task Force 76 to nearby and its amphibious warships Wasp and Ashland – and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit – provided much of the emergency relief supplies.
Over the next month, authorities nearly doubled the amount of food and water stored in Guam, so there is now a large supply to transport to Saipan and Tinian.
And there were about 200 Federal Emergency Response Officers left from Rota’s aid and now they’re getting underway on the other islands.
“In fact, it’s been a largely transparent process,” Gervino said.
In Guam on Friday, Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Wyrick, spokesperson for the Coast Guard, told the Navy Times that a HC-130J Super Hercules The crew of the long-range surveillance plane had previously flown from Barbers Point in Hawaii and was soaring over the Mariana Islands conducting aerial damage assessments.
Coast Guard planes, cutters and boats coordinated closely with Navy units, such as the Island Knights of Guam-based Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, to respond to all demands. requests from FEMA and Commonwealth agencies.
The Air Force had previously landed a C-17 Globemaster III transport plane on Saipan, unloading supplies.
Seabees from Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Detachment Guam are repairing roofs and stabilizing homes in Rota, Tinian and Saipan, officials said.
“That’s the most important thing here, our partnerships,” said Wyrick, who had flown from Coast Guard District 14 headquarters in Honolulu to help.
The military could work together for a long time. Commonwealth officials told reporters on Friday the islands could be without electricity and running water for months.
Prine came to the Navy Times after appearances in the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Military, a First Prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.