No major damage in the CNMI; CUC working to restore power; hospital & clinics okay; flights to resume soon

Arnold Palacios in a helicopter flying over Tinian on his way to Rota on October 11, 2023. Photo courtesy of the CNMI Office of the Governor.

Arnold Palacios is on a helicopter at this hour heading to Rota to assess the situation there and to be with his people as they recover from a typhoon that damaged some power infrastructure, but caused no other major damage to the CNMI. His multi-agency coordination (MAC) group, according to governor’s de facto communications director Frankie Eliptico, has received no reports of death or life-threatening injuries caused by Typhoon Bolaven’s passage through the CNMI last night.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, Mr. Palacios intends to cancel all storm conditions at 2 p.m., and to declare the “All Clear” at 5 p.m. today.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation is repairing lines and straightening power poles leaning from the heavy winds in Rota as an islandwide power outage persists, according to Mr. Eliptico. CUC will be providing the MAC group with an estimated time of restoration later today. Tinian’s electrical grid has been restored, except for its airport. Crews are working on that now, as well as the pockets of Saipan still without power.

Mr. Eliptico said cellular and data communications in Rota are being monitored, with IT&E not reporting any major issues, and DOCOMO’s mobile network available to 80 percent of the population. Fixed services for DOCOMO on Rota are down because of the power outage.

The governor and his team have been working since the weekend in preparation for Bolaven, which hovered on a track threatening direct passage over Guam, Rota, Tinian, or Saipan. The storm ended up grazing Rota, but largely passing through the waters between Rota and Tinian and sparing the Mariana Islands from its more devastating winds as it pushed west and grew.

Mr. Palacios and his MAC group, which includes the mayors of the CNMI, prepositioned assets throughout the islands for quick response and recovery, and ensured redundancies in critical infrastructure to ensure the continuous provision of water services, power to important facilities, and the ability to clear roads and begin power restoration once conditions improved this morning.

As a result, Mr. Eliptico said, the Saipan hospital and the medical clinics in Tinian and Rota had uninterrupted power supply, no flooding or other calamity affected clinical operations, and first responders were able to begin recovery work immediately throughout the islands.

Jeju Air and United Airlines will resume flight operations tonight, while all other flights will resume tomorrow.

There is no word yet whether public schools will resume classes tomorrow, Thursday, October 12, 2023.


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