Tropical storms headed toward Saipan as residents recover from typhoon
HONOLULU – Two tropical storms are headed toward Saipan while residents of the U.S. territory are still reeling from a typhoon that devastated the island.
Tropical Storm Goni is expected to pass through Saipan and Guam on Sunday, the National Weather Service said. Tropical Storm Atsani is following far behind and is forecast to go well north of the Marianas.
Typhoon Soudelor struck Saipan on Aug. 2 with wind speeds 160 to 200 kilometres per hour. The 30-square-kilometre island remains without electricity, and most residents don’t have running water.
“It’s definitely coming too close to them for comfort,” Paul Stanko, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in Guam, said of Goni. “A lot of the structures that got wiped out by Soudelor, they haven’t had time to rebuild anything yet.”
For a region that’s accustomed to storms, Goni wouldn’t normally be a problem.
“We’re so used to weak tropical storms passing … and maybe knocking over a few banana trees,” said resident Glen Hunter.
But Saipan residents worry tropical-storm-force winds will send debris from Soudelor’s downed trees and destroyed tin homes flying into the air.
“No matter how small the next storm is, we’re going to have some issues,” Hunter said.
Roofing tin is lightweight with sharp edges, Hunter described: “It’s like a knife flying through the air.” Residents were trying to spread word about the oncoming storms so neighbours could secure debris that has piled up, Hunter said. “For some people, that debris could be their entire house,” he said.
All major roads have been cleared, said Gregorio Kilili Camcacho Sablan, the Northern Mariana Islands’ delegate to Congress.
“All we can do is prepare,” he said as roosters crowed outside his home in Saipan, where it was already Saturday morning. “I wish I can say we will be fine. But you cannot say that until the storm has passed.”
© 2015 The Associated Press