U.S. Guam residents frustrated by slow relief works after Typhoon Mawar

(Xinhua) 13:12, June 02, 2023

LOS ANGELES, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Residents of Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean, felt frustrated by slow relief works as most parts of the island were still without power, water and internet on Wednesday, one week after Typhoon Mawar slammed it.

"My people will not live like pigs because of this government's ineptness," Mayors' Council of Guam President Jesse Alig told lawmakers during an emergency legislative session Tuesday.

Alig said that some villages were only getting access to heavy equipment six days after the island was hit by Mawar.

He made the remarks at a meeting in which lawmakers debated a bill to give the authority an additional 50 million U.S. dollars to pay for typhoon recovery, according to a report from the Pacific Daily News, a leading newspaper based in Guam.

"The problem is, if there's money, why in heaven's name are we not using it six days after the storm," Alig asked, noting that the government was full of talk and was making plenty of mistakes.

Super typhoon Mawar hit Guam with strong winds at a speed of about 225 km per hour and heavy rains last Wednesday night, causing floods and knocking out power on the island.

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said in a social media post that the island suffered "a frightening experience that hasn't been felt for over two decades."

The typhoon not only knocked out wind equipment at the airport installed by the National Weather Service, but also demolished the radar dome. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Remote Ground Terminal also suffered significant losses.

At one point, 98 percent of Guam lost power during Typhoon Mawar, Guerrero said, and it took the Guam Power Authority (GPA) almost two days to fully restore power to the Guam Memorial Hospital.

By Wednesday, power had been restored to just 28 percent of customers, according to the latest statement from the GPA.

Miguel Bordallo, general manager of Guam Waterworks Authority, told KUAM News that he could give no assurance that water would be fully available any time soon.

Robert Fenton Jr., administrator for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 9, said Monday that more than 500 FEMA personnel were working to assist Guam.

Members of the 249th Engineer Battalion from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been dispatched to Guam and would be hooking up emergency generators, Fenton said.

However, Alig noted at Tuesday's meeting that FEMA, who has had representatives on Guam since before the storm, only started to distribute bottled water on that day and still was not distributing food.

"It's supposed to be getting better, but it's getting worse. No water, no power, and people are getting desperate," Napoleon Gonzales, a 72-year-old resident, told the Guam Daily Post on Tuesday.

Gonzales's neighbor James Davis said he waited in line outside the Yigo Shell Guam gas station for 14 hours on Sunday.

But Davis said the long lines, power outages and nonfunctional ATMs don't frustrate him since he still has a roof on his house.

"Some people have no roof," he said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


Related Stories