Back in the 'dark days'

Saipan casino temporarily shuts down

Yutu ravaged Saipan

“Those dark days in our economy were not too long ago, and I know we all remember those days. But now we see an economy that has provided more opportunities for everyone,” CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said on Oct. 20, trumpeting the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ report that highlighted the CNMI’s phenomenal economic growth at 25.1 percent in 2017.

Garapan was vibrant, swarming with tourists. The Imperial Pacific casino resort was tossing millions into the government coffers. Life was sunny.

At one fell swoop — five days after the government announced the good tidings— Supertyphoon Yutu sent the Northern Marianas back into the “dark days,” literally and figuratively.

The Commonwealth Utilities Commission has managed to switch the power and water back on in certain parts of the Saipan and Tinian, but for the most part, residents still have to light candles at night. Several offices and businesses are still relying on generators that they run for limited hours. The displaced households — over 500 of them — are at the mercy of federal largess and community assistance.

The tourists, who were greeted by the sun and the sand when they came to Saipan, left a paradise in desolation. The click-clock-dings of the casino machines have stopped.

Imperial Pacific casino