By Dan Dowling, Regional Communications Manager
“When we landed mid-afternoon at Andersen Air Force Base, I was astonished by the damage we could see on base.”
Ian Dyar, senior program manager for the American Red Cross, marked his 16th anniversary of disaster service with the organization by hopping on a series of planes to the U.S. territory of Guam. The Red Cross, in partnership with the local government, is now leading the sheltering mission alongside feeding and providing other humanitarian assistance to communities affected by Typhoon Mawar. While we are working alongside partners, the Red Cross is the only organization resourced to take care of individuals and families who have no place else to go.
"As I was boarding a C-17 humanitarian flight, I could only imagine what we would see when we landed on the island,” Dyar said.
He had been pre-staged to await travel to Guam and deployed with the first wave of leadership team members, making the long trek all the way from his home in New Hampshire to the South Pacific.
“The sun was setting as we traveled from the base to headquarters, and we could see extensive damage to homes and infrastructure from the main roads," Dyar said.
The powerful storm flooded homes, tore off roofs, downed power lines and damaged water wells.
Trained Red Cross disaster workers from all over the United States are on the islands, distributing relief supplies, supporting feeding efforts in community-run shelters, and assessing residential damage to help and support people affected by this powerful storm. Dyar says that the damage is significant.
“Lines for miles at the few gas stations that were open, I could sense just how dire the situation was in the aftermath of the typhoon," he said.
Parts of the island have been without power since May 24. The entire area is still under a boil water notice and power has not been restored to pumps, leaving half the island still without running water. The slow restoration of power has increased the community needs around feeding and sheltering. The Red Cross has been providing more than 6,000 meals a day through vendors.
Linda Shelley is another Granite State Red Crosser volunteering in Guam. She says they are distributing meals to locals who are still living without power or running water in their homes.
“We distributed 300 lunches and 300 dinners to a lot of very grateful locals. The children would run as fast as their little bare feet would carry them,” she said.
Shelley added, “The heat and humidity can be stifling but lots of water helps.”
The distribution of emergency supplies continues as many communities are choosing to stay in their storm-damaged homes.
The damage is extensive, and teams continue detailed assessments to get a clear picture of the damage on both Rota and Guam so the Red Cross can begin offering financial assistance. So far, more than 8,600 assessments have been completed, finding nearly 1,000 households sustaining major damage or destroyed.
These communities face a long road to recovery and the Red Cross is committed to helping every step of the way.
Help people affected by Typhoon Mawar in U.S. territories including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767), or text the word TYPHOON to 90999 to make a $10 donation.