CNMI government shuts down due to looming tropical depression
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- Still recovering from the impacts of twin typhoons that battered the islands three years ago, the CNMI is now bracing for yet another possible disaster.
CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres declared tropical storm condition II for Saipan, Tinian and Rota effective noon today until Friday due to the ongoing threat of Tropical Depression 20W.
Torres noted that the CNMI remains vulnerable as they still continue to recover from super typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut.
"Non-critical government employees are advised to go home, take care of their families, secure their belongings, and finalize preparations for heavy rainfall and increasing wind speeds," a press release from the governor's office said.
Officials said 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 Depression 20W, and will be issuing bulletins and advisories as they become available.
As of 8 a.m. this morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) Guam Weather Forecast Office has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam for Tropical Depression 20W.
At 7 a.m., Tropical Depression 20W was located about 225 miles south-southeast of Saipan, 220 miles south-southeast of Tinian, and 185 miles southeast of Rota and is moving west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. The storm is forecasted to intensify through Saturday, possibly becoming a Tropical Storm by tonight.
A small craft advisory and a flash flood watch remain in effect from Thursday morning through Friday afternoon as heavy rainfall is expected for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
The government will be activating the following locations as shelters on Saipan and Tinian effective 4 p.m. today:
· Marianas High School
· Kagman High School
· Tinian Elementary School
There are currently no shelters in place for the island of Rota; however, emergency managers on the island are currently monitoring the situation with shelters on standby.
Residents on Saipan and Tinian in tents are advised to go to the closest shelter to them for care, support, and relief during the rainy conditions.
The Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority is activated to provide transportation to the shelters throughout the day. Residents can call (670) 664-2690 for transportation to designated shelters.
In compliance with current CNMI Covid-19 protocols and to ensure the safety and health of all residents seeking shelter, the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. will be conducting temperature checks and Covid-19 vaccination verifications prior to residents entering shelters.
Vaccinated individuals seeking shelter must bring their Covid-19 vaccination cards (CDC vaccine card) for vaccination verification.
In preparation for the tropical disturbance, Torres and HSEM advise CNMI residents to take the following precautionary measures through Friday:
· Avoid driving on flooded roads or areas.
· Secure loose debris and belongings around your household or yard.
· Have a prepared emergency preparedness kit with first-aid kits, batteries, flashlights, toiletries, and a portable stove in your household.
· Stock up on food and water for your household.
· Stay up to date with the latest information from the National Weather Service and the CNMI Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.