Public school shelters in the Astumbo area of Dededo and in Mangilao village were ‘all systems go’ as this unusual workweek got off to an overcast start on Monday morning.
Guam – Temporary lodgers woke to a surprise visit from the Magalahi himself at Astumbo Elementary School before 9:00 a.m. Following a constant stream of helpful typhoon information flowing from his office and the Joint Information Center through island media, Gov. Calvo saw fit to follow up in the flesh.
“You take care, OK,” the Governor told a group of girls after sharing a laugh with them outside the cafeteria.
“You know, there [are] some positive signs that this thing may run a little bit north of the island, but the meteorologist said…it’s unpredictable,” Calvo said. “It could take a dip; it could slow down.”
Calvo said he was praying for Rota as the storm drifted toward the Friendly Island.
In the relative calm before the storm, it was a gray, sputtering morning at a school where slackened halyards beat a haphazard chime against a banner-less flagpole. And while it was difficult to tell from the outside, Astumbo Elementary was already packed to the gills with registered shelterees this morning. In all, 441 people had signed up to camp out on campus till Typhoon Mangkhut passes. That’s 41 persons over capacity.
“What happened last night was…a lot of them registered,” Assistant Principal Angel Legaspi told Gov. Calvo.
“They left,” Gov. Calvo said, finishing Legaspi’s sentence.
“They left to secure their homes,” Legaspi said.
“Then they’re coming back, they’re coming back,” the Governor said, quickly concluding why it didn’t look like there were so many people at the school.
“So right now—I know you’re full capacity by signing in. How much do you have right now, here?” Calvo asked Principal Dexter Fullo.
“Roughly 200,” Fullo said.
“Two hundred,” Calvo said.
“Yeah, in and out,” Fullo motioned.
“Some of them—looks like they come here [while] half of their family is at home,” Fullo told PNC. “And when the winds start picking up and get stronger, they start bringing people in, so it’s just the dynamics of this place.”
Many of the emergency guests were still sleeping in the cafeteria when the Governor walked in to check on them, and a sense of relief was already settling in among administrators as they realized the typhoon wasn’t likely to be as bad as originally anticipated by the National Weather Service.
Nevertheless, it was still all hands on deck at Dept. of Education shelter schools, as administrators pitched in and worked shifts at designated facilities like Astumbo, whether they’re employees of that particular school or not. Neither Legaspi nor Fullo usually works at Astumbo. Legaspi helps run Agueda Johnston Middle School while Fullo leads the JP Torres Success Academy high school.
With traffic flowing in and out, it’s critical to have someone experienced, responsible, and trained in charge of sheltering at all hours to care for the needy while enforcing the rules.
Meanwhile, in central Guam, the grounds were calm and everything seemed under quiet control at George Washington High School in Mangilao in the early hours after daybreak. But the infirmary was a hive of activity as Principal Yolinda “Lynda” Hernandez-Avila took charge of sheltering operations.
“I’ll go over the rules and making sure they understand it,” one assistant told the principal.
“And definitely no smoking or cooking or candles,” Hernandez-Avila said as the assistant walked away with her assignment.
“All the keys are here,” another assistant told the principal.
“K. Alright, sir. Thank you,” Hernandez-Avila said. “Hopefully we don’t have to call you for the next shift, but if we do, then that’s what’s going to happen.” The good-natured laughter flowed.
Hernandez-Avila said shelteree registration had swollen from 14 to 37 people by 9:30 Monday morning. And at least one occupant and his ten family members couldn’t have been more grateful for a safe place to settle in from the storm.
“We just have too much family,” Robinson Willy said. “So we’re going to make sure everybody’s safe, and we thank the government and [GDOE] for allowing us to stay here.”