At the EOC

Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, center, with CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Center manager Joey Dela Cruz, right, and Frankie Eliptico, Northern Marianas College vice president for administration and advancement.

GOVERNOR Arnold I. Palacios canceled typhoon conditions for Rota at 5 p.m. Thursday and declared “all clear” for Saipan and Tinian. He declared “all clear” for Rota at 8 p.m.

Noting that in the Commonwealth, Rota was the “most impacted” by Super Typhoon Mawar, Palacios said his office, in coordination with CNMI Homeland Security Emergency Management, and Rota Mayor Aubrey Hocog, is conducting a “consolidated infrastructure and needs assessment.”

At a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, the governor said the CNMI was also trying to get a Federal Aviation Administration clearance for the Rota airport “so that we can begin transporting the needed critical resources to Rota.”

He added, “We are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense to get…maybe a military helicopter or a C-130 to bring some equipment to Rota for the repair of the island’s power distribution system, as well as generators for [the] hospital, and…infrastructure that needs to be powered up, like water wells, and such…. The special assistant for HSEM, Franklin Babauta, is on a call with Joint Region Marianas, going through an assessment, putting together a plan for Rota, and one of the key components in this is the Rota Airport. The DoD  needs to do a professional assessment of Rota’s runways [to determine] whether a C-130 could land or what kind of (air transport) equipment can land there.”

He said another government team is making sure that the roads on Rota are clear and safe, and to identify areas “where we need to bring  equipment to clear the roads, if necessary.”

As for power and electricity, the governor said, “Power is down and out on Rota. But the power plant is okay. There was some moisture on one of the engines, so they shut that down. There are also a lot of lines that are down. The hardware and the distribution system need to be fixed.”

He declined to give a timetable for power restoration. “The first thing we will be sending to Rota are two utility bucket trucks, and all the resources [the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has put together to repair the distribution system, that is the highest priority right now, and make sure the airport is safe and ready to go — everything else will fall into place.” 

As for individuals with injuries or needing medical attention, Palacios said, “There is no immediate medical evacuation need for Rota, not to our knowledge in our briefing this morning — even the hospital did not receive any calls. Fortunately, there was no fatality.” 

On Saipan and Tinian, he said there was no damage. “There were some debris and fallen tree branches, but those are minor and have been cleared,” he added

A power line was down on Tinian, “but that’s been fixed by Tinian CUC already.”

On Saipan, “our power system was not really interrupted, and although there were some outages, the hospital has a very good backup generator — the hospital was not impacted at all.”

With Typhoon Mawar moving away from the Marianas, Palacios said: “Hopefully, we can declare an all clear for Rota, tonight [Thursday evening] at 8 p.m.”


Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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