‘State Of Disaster’ Declared After Soudelor, Strongest Storm Of 2015, Strikes Saipan
Super Typhoon Soudelor caused severe damage after it intensified in the Northwest Pacific with sustained winds reaching 178 miles per hour, as reported by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The wind gusts had escalating to a whopping 218 miles per hour as of 4 p.m. ET.
Extensive Damage Caused
Soudelor directly struck Saipan, causing widespread destruction – knocking over trees, downing power lines, damaging buildings, and causing massive flooding to the power plant. It had been upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1-equipvalent typhoon.
As reported by Pacific Daily News, about 350 people had taken refuge in emergency shelters as of Monday.
“From looking at the damage, I would guess weeks to months to restore power. It took about three to six months to restore service on Guam after Pongsona,” Dr. Phillip Dauterman said. “This is not the total damage of Pongsona, but it is close.”
According to Mashable, Soudelor has become the strongest tropical cyclone in 2015. Forecasts suggest that it will persistently increase, with the winds reaching a frightening level of 184 miles per hour, before beginning to abate as it reaches Taiwan and China by the end of the week.
Soudelor has been recorded to be stronger than Cyclone Pam, which brought maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour.
‘State of Disaster’ Declared
A “state of disaster and significant emergency” was declared for Saipan by the acting governor for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Monday.
Saipan is the biggest island of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The storm sent most of Saipan into power outage.
Brad Ruszala, a spokesman for the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, said that “a huge amount of our infrastructure is just gone.”
“All these power poles snapped in half [have] fallen into buildings crossing over the road. We’ve also had some damage to our power plants,” said Ruszala. “We haven’t been able to assess that completely yet… but right now we’re not gonna have power for some time.”
According to The Huffington Post, there has been a diesel fuel spillage of almost 500 gallons into the port of Saipan, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Thousands of gallons of gasoline had leaked from a storage tank.
‘Seeing All The Damage Was Heartbreaking’
Myla Capilitan, a resident of Saipan for 19 years, said that the storm had caused extensive damage to her property.
“Given that we’ve already gone through typhoons in the past that were relatively weak, and one of those typhoons was a super typhoon, we assumed this would be another typical storm,” she said. “Most people didn’t really think to prepare so much.”
The storm broke Capilitan’s sliding door and destroyed part of her roof.
“Our apartment building is entirely made of concrete and we could feel it vibrating [with the wind],” she said. “Waking up the next day and seeing all the damage was heartbreaking.”
According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the warming of ocean temperatures all over the world has caused a decrease in the number of tropical cyclones but escalated the intensities of these storms.
“These are very trying times for us here on Saipan,” Torres wrote on his Facebook page. “I expect our recovery efforts to be a collaborative one across government agencies with the cooperation of the whole community to get us back on our feet.”
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