CNMI & Guam were ready for Bolaven

It isn’t every day we find a harmony of circumstances and gratitude for society and its government; in both the CNMI and Guam. But, in my after-action report of the super typhoon-that-could have been, I feel better about how we’ll do when the next big one hits because of how well both Arnold Palacios and Lou Leon Guerrero led the peoples of our lands. How well the people responded to the advice of their governors. And, most of all, how assuringly-cautious, yet accurate the region’s National Weather Service office guided all our decisions.

Even through my resentment of having to work since Friday on storm coverage in both territories, I am heartened by the preparation, the urgency, the competency in coordination, and what seemed to be the readiness for recovery.

The heroes again of the pre-typhoon effort are Landon Aydlett and his team at the NWS Guam office. The Marianas’ chief meteorologist very likely is creating best practices for compressed dual networking and guidance to both emergency services operations and the public. I would be surprised if he hasn’t already been asked by the Emergency Management Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to present his protocol on a national level for others to learn.

His urgency, so far well timed through these events, coupled with his easy-to-understand way of communicating what we should expect and why we should continue to monitor events as they unfold have truly made the difference. It shows. Look how well prepared the peoples of Guam and the CNMI were for Bolaven.

Governor Palacios and his team, as expected, prepared for the worst, mobilized resources ahead of time, communicated well with the public, coordinated an immediate response effort, and provided a presence that was reassuring. As Mr. Palacios is fond of saying, this isn’t the CNMI’s first rodeo. The people’s preparedness makes all the difference. And the people of the Commonwealth take these things seriously and were prepared.

Governor Leon Guerrero and her team, just like the pre-Mawar operation, did a great job preparing the public in the event of a direct passage over Guam. The difference between then and now is that this time, Ms. Leon Guerrero appeared to be far more prepared to handle a response and recovery effort, though none was needed. She ordered the pre-positioning of resources. Her office said they were networking with radio stations and mobile communications companies. Redundancies were built into the water systems to keep wells operational even if power goes down.

I have only two criticisms of the coordination by both governments, and they have to do with recovery readiness. The first is that we’ve been doing this for so many decades, someone with a brain should have come up with a way to get students back in school the day after a banana storm passes. The second is that both governments did not provide many details on what its Plan B would have been if all radio and telecommunications services went out, like what happened on Guam during and after Mawar.

And my final criticism is for the government of Guam. I’ll couch it by first stating I thought Ms. Leon Guerrero’s office did a much better job communicating with the public in this event than with Mawar. However, it would really help if they responded faster to media questions, especially as the storm is passing and people start to wonder whether GovGuam, schools, and other places will open the next day.

All in all, the Commonwealth government, GovGuam, the NWS, and Joint Region Marianas did a damn good job. I feel better about the leaderships of the islands when the next big one comes our way.


  • Russ Mason

      10/12/2023 at 9:07 AM

    When the wind was blowing and the trees were dancing, our power went out, I thought, “Oh boy, here we go.”

    Fifteen minutes later the lights popped back on.

    Is that preparedness or what?

  • Russ Mason

      10/14/2023 at 8:42 AM


    When Bolaven slammed into Rota, it did nearly $12 dollars worth of damage.

    What’s the difference between owning property on Rota and gonorrhea?
    You can get rid of the gonorrhea.

    What’s the difference between the CNMI and the Titanic?
    The Titanic had a band.


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