- By Pacific island Times News Staff
CNMI requests Trump to declare federal state of emergency
Saipan— The CNMI is asking President Donald J. Trump requesting an emergency declaration for the CNMI, which is under Condition of Readiness 1 as Typhoon Hagibis became a super typhoon.
As of last Monday afternoon, Super Typhoon Hagibis was 165 miles east of Saipan moving west-northwest at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph with gusts up to 185 mph.
Acting Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, through the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and in coordination with the National Weather Service declared Typhoon Condition I for the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Alamagan, and Pagan, and maintained Tropical Storm Condition II for the islands of Rota and Agrihan.
According to the Office of the CNMI Governor, the White House has officially received Palacio’s letter requesting the emergency declaration.
The White House and the CNMI Office of the Governor has been in constant communication during the past few days as Typhoon Hagibis makes its way to the Marianas.
In his request, Palacios emphasized that the CNMI is still in the midst of recovery from last year’s impact of Super Typhoon Yutu, which devastated Saipan and Tinian.
“The intensity and erratic movement of the storm threatens such destruction to public and private infrastructure that are partially being restored from the catastrophic damages of Super Typhoon Yutu less than a year ago. My request for the Emergency Declaration is to mobilize critical response resources into the Commonwealth given our location and the time and distance from the mainland,” Palacios noted in the letter.
Currently, Typhoon Hagibis is rapidly intensifying with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. It continues to strengthen and may possibly grow to be a Category 4 typhoon by the time it passes near Anatahan.
“I have determined this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the Commonwealth government and supplemental federal assistance is necessary to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen the effects of this impending calamity,” Palacios said.
Palacios’ request includes public assistance emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance, including Department of Defense strategic airlift, mass care, and sheltering commodities.
On Monday morning, CNMI Gov. Torres, who is in Hawaii for prescheduled meetings with the Department of Defense, spoke on the phone with FEMA acting administrator Peter T. Gaynor.
Torres and Gaynor discussed the CNMI’s request, as well as other measures needed to prepare for the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.
“Acting Administrator Gaynor expressed his support for the Marianas and committed his full support to assisting our people, especially since we are still recovering from Super Typhoon Yutu. Acting Governor Palacios and I thank him and our FEMA partners for their partnership through our recovery and as we prepare for Typhoon Hagibis,” Governor Torres said.
“Despite all the storms that have gone our way, our islands remain resilient, and the lessons learned from our past disasters have made us a stronger community and a more responsive government. We continue to make every effort to be proactive and ensure that federal and local resources are dedicated to bringing everyone back to normalcy as soon as possible. We remain Marianas strong,” Torres added.
All government offices, including the CNMI Public School System and the Northern Marianas College will be closed on Tuesday until further notice.
The CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, through the CNMI Emergency Operations Center State Warning Point, will maintain a 24-hour operation, monitor the movement of Tropical Storm Hagibis, and issue bulletins as they become available.
The CNMI Office of the Governor in coordination with the CNMI Public School System and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs have activated the following as shelters:
• Koblerville Elementary School
• Kagman High School
• Marianas High School
• Tinian Elementary School
• Aging Center (for medical needs only)
• San Vicente Elementary School
• Chalan Kanoa Headstart
• Tanapag Middle School
• Dandan Headstart
As of 6 p.m. Monday, there were 357 residents in shelters on Saipan and 19 residents in shelters on Tinian.
The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority provided transportation to the shelters throughout the last two days. Government agencies available to help residents break down tents Teams from the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services with support from the Department of Corrections, Saipan Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Public Works helped residents break down their temporary tents and assisted in securing their personal belongings and effects. Teams ceased operations after Condition 1 was declared.
The Office of the Governor advises the community to keep a close watch on updates to weather forecasts and stay informed on the latest statements and advisories which will be available through media partners and NOAA Weather radio broadcast at 211 on phone, or call CNMI EOC State Warning Point at 237-8000 or 664-8000, and for the Northern Islands to contact CNMI EOC State warning point at high frequency single side band radio on frequency 5.205.0.
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Power and Water
The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (announced that as of 5:30 p.m., all feeders are energized on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, and all systems are running normal at this time.
CUC water crews began to isolate all water storage tanks on Saipan as of 4:55 p.m. due to the increase in wind strength and to ensure safety of crew. CUC is prepared to set up water filling stations if the storm’s impact causes power outages and other infrastructure damages. Roads DPW has continued to respond to troubleshoot calls and concerns regarding drainages. Teams have been dispatched to clear drainages to prevent severe flooding.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority) announced that the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport remains open, but all flights on Tuesday will be cancelled. This includes flights from: United Airlines, Star Marianas, Sichuan Airlines, Asiana Airlines, T’Way Airlines and Jeju Air Seaport.
The U.S. Coast Guard established Port Heavy Weather Condition ZULU for the ports of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota as of 4 a.m. Monday morning. All seaports are closed, and port operations are shut down.
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation is well stocked and prepared for inclement weather. Fuel tanks for the generators are topped off and will be good for two weeks. Water tanks are full and will be good for two weeks. The CNMI will have resources on-hand to take care of the hospital. Northern Islands There are 14 residents living on the islands of Alamagan, Agrihan, and Pagan. CNMI first responders continue to ensure that their needs are met.
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