Residents of the Northern Mariana Islands are facing the devastation left behind by Super Typhoon Yutu, which crashed into the United States territory Wednesday with sustained winds of 174 mph, leaving massive destruction in its wake. The American Red Cross is responding to help those who have been impacted by this deadly storm.
Reports are that half of the island territory is destroyed. People have no power or water and it could be months until power is restored. Estimates show as many as 6,000 homes destroyed and another 12,000 impacted by the storm. In addition, ports and airports are closed. The airport in Saipan sustained significant damage and only humanitarian and military flights can get in.
“Water and power are out, and many Red Crossers have major damage to their homes,” reported John Hirsh, executive director of the Red Cross in the region. “They are going to need our assistance as are the people of Tinian and Saipan.”
The islands are located southeast of Japan and are divided into two U.S. jurisdictions – the Northern Mariana Islands and the territory of Guam. This is the strongest storm on record to hit the islands and homes as well as critical infrastructure have been destroyed, leaving many people displaced. Almost 1,000 people are seeking safety in numerous government-run shelters which are at full capacity with the number of people needing shelter expected to rise.
Relief and recovery efforts are now underway but continued bad weather and the storm’s devastation are making it difficult. The Red Cross has staff in both areas who are operating with generator power and more help is on the way. Red Cross workers are teaming up with the office of the governor and FEMA to assess the damage and will be providing relief supplies. The Red Cross on Guam will serve as a staging area to get disaster workers and relief supplies to where they are needed.
A Red Cross Disaster Response Management Team is on the ground to assist with the response. Three volunteers from Hawaii have deployed to assist in this response. An Oahu volunteer is assisting with Health Services, a Big Island volunteer is assisting with Disability Integration, and a Maui volunteer is assisting with Mental Health Services.
“The Northern Mariana Islands is still recovering from Typhoon Manghkut that struck last month as well as Typhoon Soudelor from 2015, which was the worst storm in 30 years,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, Pacific Islands Region, which includes Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. “As part of the Pacific Region, we are prepared to help the Red Cross on the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.”
RECONNECTING WITH LOVED ONES Communication is challenging throughout the region. This is a time for neighbors to help neighbors, and, when possible, help each other to reconnect with loved ones. The Red Cross has two ways to help you reconnect with loved ones. The free Red Cross Safe and Well website allows people to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done on the website or by texting SAFE to 78876.
The Red Cross Emergency App “I’m Safe” button allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The Emergency App is in English and Spanish and is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Help the Red Cross respond to disasters like Typhoon Yutu by donating at redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or mailing a check to your local office.