‘It’s a lot to take in,’ survivor says in Yutu aftermath

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) —   Supertyphoon Yutu has turned the resort island of Saipan into a disaster zone.

Downed power poles lay scattered in many areas. Cables wrap buildings and roadways in twisted steel webbing. Skeletal walls stand bare among the rubble.  Homes, schools, and businesses were lost in one night.

But Luna Litulumar lost more than her home the night Yutu slammed her island. Her aunt, 44-year-old Felicidad Litulumar, was Yutu’s first victim. She was seeking shelter in an abandoned home when a concrete wall collapsed on her. Luna Litulumar said she learned about the death the following morning.

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“There was no emergency response until the morning. That’s when they got to her,” Luna Litulumar said.

With her own home destroyed, Luna Litulumar is living with her brother. As a teacher, she said she worried about her students.

“It’s a lot to take in. So we try to not think about everything at one time because this is what happens — you cry,” Luna Litulumar said, trying to smile as she held back tears.

She did that often as she described Yutu’s passing.

For hours when Yutu’s estimated 180-mph sustained winds made landfall on the island and in nearby Tinian, her family couldn’t sleep. They wondered, she said, “if the wind is going to blow through the windows.”

“My mom and my brother actually stood by the door holding it back so it doesn’t blow in,” Luna Litulumar said.

Several days after Yutu, the island is moving forward. Things have calmed down, stores have opened and lines for gas, water, and other needs are a little shorter, Luna Litulumar said.

While the island has had a few days to focus on recovery, most residents still don’t have power or water. The island expects it may take three to six months just to get Saipan up to 50 percent of the island’s power restored. Utility officials are waiting for emergency generators to power water pump stations.

Because of this, many residents do find themselves in line to get drinking water. John Akiyama Aldan, who volunteers his time to help direct traffic at Star Water, said lines can stretch back a mile to a mile and a half.

The same happened after Typhoon Soudelor but compared to then, residents are calmer and more orderly, said Star Water employee Michelle Achas.

“Before, the people (were) panicking,” Achas said. This time, she said, people lining up for water were organized.

More aid also is coming for those affected by Yutu. About 300 U.S. Army Reservists from Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as military personnel from the Pacific, are being mobilized to assist with recovery efforts.

About 140 Army Reserve soldiers volunteered to support relief efforts as the first military assets on the ground to support the Saipan community, according to a media release.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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