HUFFINGTON POST

'State Of Disaster' Declared After Typhoon Soudelor Slams Saipan

"Waking up the next day and seeing all the damage was heartbreaking."

Saipan endured severe damage after Typhoon Soudelor passed through the island late Sunday night with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and gusts of up to 120 miles per hour.

Soudelor, which hours earlier had been upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1-equivalent typhoon, made a direct hit on Saipan, destroying buildings, downing trees and power lines and flooding the island's power plant, according to Pacific News Center.

A photo posted by Amber Reyes (@_bamms_) on

After conditions subsided Monday morning, Ralph Torres, acting governor for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, declared "a state of disaster and significant emergency" for Saipan, the largest island of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Most of Saipan is currently without water and power, according to local news stations. Officials do not know when it will be restored.

Brad Ruszala, a spokesman for the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, told a radio show in Guam that "a huge amount of our infrastructure is just gone."

"All these power poles snapped in half [have] fallen into buildings crossing over the road. We've also had some damage to our power plants," said Ruszala. "We haven't been able to assess that completely yet... but right now we're not gonna have power for some time.”

The U.S. Coast Guard also confirmed that 500 gallons of diesel fuel had spilled into the port of Saipan and that thousands of gallons of gasoline had leaked from a storage tank. The USCG Sector Guam is in Saipan to coordinate and assist with response efforts.

As of Monday afternoon local time, an estimated 350 people had been placed in emergency shelters. According to local news station KSPN2, at least 60 people are being treated for lacerations at the Commonwealth Health Center.

Myla Capilitan, who has lived in Saipan for 19 years, said this was the strongest storm she's ever experienced.

"Given that we've already gone through typhoons in the past that were relatively weak, and one of those typhoons was a super typhoon, we assumed this would be another typical storm," Capilitan told The WorldPost. "Most people didn't really think to prepare so much." 

The strong winds from Soudelor shattered Capilitan's sliding door and caused a portion of her roof to collapse.

"Our apartment building is entirely made of concrete and we could feel it vibrating [with the wind]," she said. "Waking up the next day and seeing all the damage was heartbreaking."

Typhoon Souledor arrived nearly a month after Typhoon Chan-hom passed through the Mariana Islands and disconnected an undersea cable, effectively severing communications between the Northern Mariana Islands and the rest of the world for a few days, according to the Pacific Daily News.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent an advance team to Saipan before the typhoon's impact and will wait for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government to submit a damage assessment, as is procedure, before determining the federal response, the Pacific Daily News reports.

"These are very trying times for us here on Saipan," Torres wrote on his Facebook page after the typhoon. "I expect our recovery efforts to be a collaborative one across government agencies with the cooperation of the whole community to get us back on our feet."

See below for more images of Typhoon Soudelor's aftermath in Saipan.

  • Myla Capilitan
  • Myla Capilitan
  • Myla Capilitan
  • Myla Capilitan
  • Myla Capilitan

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