Saipan – The conclusion of Day Two in Pacific News Center’s Journey to Ground Zero leaves impressions of hope here on an island in recovery, after Super Typhoon Yutu struck just six days ago. Local and federal authorities are deployed every day ensuring the safety of the Saipan community. Residents without water and power are seeing progress faster, they’re helping each other clean up belongings confettied across neighborhoods; everyone is focused on rebuilding and rising.
Our day started with a tour led by Power 99 On-The-Go Traffic Reporter Russel Ann Dichoso. Then, SMG Saipan General Manager James Nelson drove us up Mt. Tapochao, where Sorensen Media Group’s radio tower needed repair. We also captured an almost 360-degree view of Saipan. Beyond the brown, a rich blue ocean hugged the island, reflecting the essence of rebuilding.
On our way down the mountain, we came across a long line of cars whose occupants took their turns at one of the island’s six water stations, manned by local crews. Tapochao is the site of one station, opened from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Other sites included Kannat Tabla, Koblerville, Kagman, and Navy Hill. As Matuis’s station is opened from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and all have been in operation every day since Super Typhoon Yutu left the Marianas.
PNC was the first Guam news organization to break word of Saipan’s second typhoon-related death since Yutu. PNC broke the story at 3:01 p.m. on the Pacific News Center Facebook page, and you can refer to last night’s PNC News First broadcast and pacificnewscenter.com for details.
Our team hit the streets of Chalan Kanoa and crossed paths with resident Bruce Iglesias. According to Iglesias, the road we were standing on is within the very area of Saipan that suffered the brunt of Super Typhoon Yutu.
As he referred to a massive fallen lemai tree in his neighbor’s yard, Iglesias told PNC the trunk has withstood about 60 years of intense typhoons, even making it through Super Typhoon Sodoulor that hit the island in 2015. He adds, however, that Yutu ripped it out of the ground with an eerie howl and sloughed it onto his neighbor’s roof, bearing down its substantial weight.
Today, our calendar includes speaking further with interim President of Northern Marianas College Frankie Eliptico. “Our 160 employees and our 1,300 students make up the soul of our college,” he told PNC. “The storm might have destroyed our buildings, but it didn’t destroy the soul of our college. We will come back, we will rebuild, we will rise.”
PNC will then take a ride-along with Bobby Jean Taisacan, Public Information Officer of the Dept. of Fire and Emergency Management Services.