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Regional News

Yap’s typhoon disaster relief efforts continue

TALGUW HEIGHTS, Colonia (Yap State Government) —Yap Gov. Tony Ganngiyan declared a State of Emergency in the aftermath of then Super Typhoon Maysak.

With the declaration in place, the Disaster Coordinating Office or DCO and relevant agencies were activated and tapped to mitigate the disaster.

According to the latest DCO SitRep or situational report, Typhoon Maysak made its way through the islands of Yap from on March 28, 2015 to April 1, 2015, traveling northwestward. Some of the outer islands of Yap felt strong destructive winds and saltwater intrusion, causing great damage to the island atolls. Preliminary assessment spearheaded by the Yap State Disaster Coordinator around the Yap Main Islands and the Neighboring Islands revealed that damage was overwhelming, and Governor Ganngiyan eventually declared a State of Emergency on April 1, 2015.

The task force of DCO will be meeting every week to update its SitRep and to advise the state leadership on the ongoing disaster relief efforts to the affected islands. And as agreed in the initial meetings, the task force will be publishing press releases to inform the general public of the relief efforts.

This week’s update includes the emergence and aftermath of Noul, and the voyage of the MV Hapilhomol 1.

Tropical Storm Noul started its formation in the eastern Caroline Islands. The Emergency Operation Center activated right after the National Weather Service out of Tiyan, Guam, informed the Yap Disaster Coordinating Officer of the tropical depression while it was already in Yap’s territorial water, and the need to monitor and update the islands. The monitoring was then picked up sometime mid-Sunday May 3, 2015 when the depression was located near latitude 8.1N and longitude 140.9E. The storm passed close to Fais Island in the morning hours and Ulithi Atoll during the evening hours of May 4. The storm was upgraded to typhoon status when it made landfall in Yap Proper in the early morning hours of May 5.

The damage assessment for Fais Island and Ulithi Atoll was conducted over single side band radio right after the storm passed each island group, while the damage assessment conducted for the Yap Main Islands beginning in the morning hours of Thursday, May 7.

OPB released the initial damage assessment report this week, outlining the damage done to the affected islands. The report concluded by stating that, Noul passed Fais Island and Ulithi Atoll when it was still in tropical storm stage. However, these two island groups experienced strong tropical wind forces as the storm closely passed by them at a very slow pace. As tropical storm Noul slowly drifting its way down to the Yap Main Islands, it became a typhoon with its maximum sustained wind speeds increasing up to 75 miles per hour. Its closest point of approach was about 1 mile south of the Main Islands, with the typhoon’s eye crossing the southern tip of the barrier reef around 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Typhoon Noul then picked up its speed to 5 mph and moved further away from Yap later that morning.

While minor damage was observed in Fais Island and Ulithi Atoll, the findings of the assessment teams indicated that most of the major damage was in the Main Islands, especially in the Colonia, Rull, and Kanifay areas (Nimgil), where exposure to the typhoon’s wind was significant while it was at its peak and passing slightly south of Yap.

After Noul, the Main Islands quickly recovered within a few days. Recovery efforts for Maysak resumed operations, with the Hapilmohol leaving the state center for the Neighboring Islands on May 13. The ship was initially scheduled on May 8, but because of Noul, ample time was given for the state center to recover. The ship left for a long field trip to the Neighboring Islands — to the state’s furthermost populated islands and back — to bring government services, especially public health, to the outer islands. The ship also transported about 2,900 lbs. of rice and about 1,059 gallons of drinking water for the Maysak-affected islands.