Typhoon Mawar hit the United States Wednesday as displaced residents huddled against devastating winds and torrential rains from what was predicted to be the worst storm to hit the Pacific island in decades. directed its anger at Guam, a small territory of the United States.
U.S. forces have driven ships away, President Joe Biden has approved a state of emergency, and those who don’t live in concrete houses have been urged to seek safety elsewhere ahead of the typhoon. The typhoon was expected to arrive as a Category 4 storm, but could intensify to Category 1. 5. The last time a Category 5 hit Guam was Super Typhoon Karen in 1962.
Forecasters at Guam’s National Weather Service office said they heard low rumblings and the rattling of shutters and doors as the storm intensified Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re inside. Trees are falling. Power lines are down,” said Brandon Aidlett, a meteorologist for the service. “Everything is changing. It’s too dangerous to go outside.”
Many communities on the 212-square-mile (549-square-kilometer) island lost power by the afternoon, and some communities in the south lost running water.
Ahead of the storm, Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero ordered residents of coastal, low-lying and flood-prone areas of the Guam Territory of more than 150,000 people to evacuate to higher ground.
In low-lying Agat on the south coast, resident Reel Drilon began preparations on Friday and spent the weekend securing patio furniture and trash cans. Almost every house in the village is planted with mango trees, he said, but authorities have warned that mango trees can be ripped from the ground and become obstacles and deadly flying objects. ing.
“A lot of people are looking at trees,” he told the Associated Press before the storm hit. “In the south, there are many coconut trees and mango trees.”
Guam is a key U.S. military base in the Pacific, with the Pentagon controlling about one-third of the island.Major General Benjamin Nicholson, commander of the Mariana Consolidated Division, has authorized the evacuation of defense personnel, dependents and employees in the expected impact area.
As a standard precaution, all vessels were moved to sea, and personnel remaining on the island were evacuated in place, the Navy said. About 6,800 U.S. military personnel are stationed on Guam, according to the Pentagon.
By late early morning local time, rain from the outer band of the storm had already fallen on the island, with sustained maximum winds of 140 mph (225 km/h) and gusts of up to 170 mph (274 km/h). said meteorologist Landon Aidlett. Guam National Weather Service. Its center was about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of the island, moving north-northwest.
The Bureau of Meteorology said of the “significant damage” from the “triple threat” of wind, heavy rain, life-threatening storm surges of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 2 meters) and dangerous heights of 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters). warned. meters). The storm is located west of the International Date Line on Wednesday afternoon and could hit southern Guam a day earlier than the mainland United States and Hawaii, the report said.
Guam’s chief weather station meteorologist Patrick Dole said if Guam doesn’t get a direct hit, it will get very close. Mawar, he pointed out, means ‘rose’ in Malay.
A school bus picked up residents at the island’s community center and transported them to 11 elementary schools set up as shelters. Civil servants from various villages warned residents to secure the items in their yards and evacuate immediately. Some spread the information with megaphones, while others turned to social media. Power outages flashed as rain and wind picked up, and officials said nearly 900 people were in shelters.
In a YouTube message, Leon Guerrero urged residents to keep calm and ordered the National Guard to help lowlanders evacuate, saying, “We are at the point of Typhoon Mawar. Take action now.” ”
The storm was traveling at 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour) but had an eye width of 17 miles (27 kilometers). That is, people at the center of the typhoon could conclude that he saw calm conditions for more than three hours and that the worst was over too soon. Doll said. Winds can reach 150 mph (241 km/h) in a few minutes out of sight, forcing people to evacuate until the government gives them a full lift.
“People might say, ‘I’m done, I can just go outside and start cleaning up,'” Dole said. “That’s totally wrong.
Xerox Guam customer manager Joshua Paulino took refuge with his wife, two sons, and mother in their home in the central village of Chalan Pago after the family closed the shutters and secured things outside. . He was concerned that the storm could rain the island for a long time, as it was expected to pass gradually.
“This storm is moving very slowly and is very disturbing,” Paulino said in a text message.
And across the ocean from Los Angeles, Marishell Tanag was worried about her parents in their 70s who had survived many typhoons over the decades on the island. They boarded up the windows, stocked up on food for several weeks, set up generators, and filled bathtubs with water. Their house in Tamuning, also in central Guam, is made of concrete, but she was still worried.
“Will the house stand? …If not, will it be moved to another safe place as soon as possible and out of the way of flying debris?” Tanag said by phone.
A typhoon warning has also been issued for Rota, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Dole said. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Tinian and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Some people in these areas are still living in temporary shelters or tents after 2018’s Category 5 Super Typhoon Yutu, Dole said.