Guam – PNC’s Journey to Ground-Zero, Saipan and Tinian would not have been possible if it were not for the men and women of Star Marianas, the first commercial airlines to resume operations only a few days after Super Typhoon Yutu ripped through the two northernmost inhabited islands of the Marianas.
A pop-up tent stands in lieu of what was once Star Marianas’ commuter airport, one of the many infrastructures that were demolished by Super Typhoon Yutu.
The regional airline was the first to resume operations days after the devastating storm – transporting supplies and passengers throughout the Marianas. Rose Yamada, station manager of Star Marianas was one of the many vital components in getting disaster victims the aid they needed.
Standing amongst the ruins of Star Marianas’ commuter terminal Yamada tells PNC “Officially we did start on Sunday but on Saturday we did start our first flight, out of Guam. Transferred some blood for Tinian. About 300lbs.” It was through an emergency flight directly to Tinian out of Guam that initiated the airline’s operations following Yutu.
However, it wasn’t just medical equipment, relief supplies and emergency medical staff were also transported through Star, to include residents who were eager to return home and be reunited with their families.
Yamada adds, “Well a lot of emergency response team and cargo, a lot of water and chainsaws and generators, all the stuff that we need now.”
Despite having to operate out of a pop-up tent right outside the airport’s fence line, the the attitude of daily progress kept the team focused on their mission of keeping the bridge between the islands connected, regardless of the heap of challenges against them.
Star President Shaun Christian, has been PNC’s direct point of contact during our travels and personally piloted the single-engine aircraft during our surreal executive tour over the almost unrecognizable island of Tinian.
Christian has since set his sights beyond the wreckage that was left his terminal in the wake of the Super Typhoon, expressing the confidence he has in his team to make do with what they were left with and return airline operations to some sense of normalcy.
“It’s not the most beautiful of terminal buildings but it’s functional and we’re getting better as we continue to operate here and work through some of the challenges associated with not having power and finding ways to get internet,” Christian says, standing before his pop-up tent terminal. The regional airlines’ president continues,“It’s great. I’m so proud of the team pulling together.”
Shaun was not the only fleet member that focused on moving pass the devastation, Yamada also tells PNC, “Our station is completely damaged. It’s hard but we’re managing. Everyday is a progress. We add stuff and make it back to normal. We’re going, it’s good.“
After talking with PNC, Yamada the station manager who oversees all commutes from Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan concludes, “I would like to say thank you to everybody that you know, understands our situation and we understand theirs. We’re just trying to move along and you know, get passed it. And one day minus today, we’re all gonna be better and we’re gonna look back and we can say, aye we made it.”