Ombre Ga’chong: Worst typhoon response I’ve ever seen

Lee Webber

By Lee Webber

During my past 55 years of living in paradise I have had the opportunity to weather more typhoons and earthquakes than I care to mention, and in some cases want to remember.

But I will say the government recovery and response to this most recent typhoon is very likely the worst in my experience.

The silence of the key elected government officials in responding to the critical needs of this community has actually been deafening!

Part of that may be the reality that the last time we had a significant storm was Pongsona and Chata’an in 2002, more than 21 years ago. 

That means we have an entire generation of people who have no real storm experience and in many cases are in positions of authority.

As an island community we also tend to allow things to move more slowly along with the propensity to not rush to fix things, i.e. Guam Memorial Hospital, Simon Sanchez High School and the list goes on and on.

A very good example are the two old wooden power poles on cross-island road that have been leaning for years and years. Two days after the storm passed they were replaced by new concrete power poles.

Had this been done sometime during the past 21 years it may have avoided some problems during this last storm.

The manana attitude of government really comes home to roost when storms such as these arrive on our doorsteps.

Or take another example, it is my understanding the Guam Power Authority is responsible for maintenance of all generators at Guam Water Authority wells. It would be a winning bet that consistent monthly maintenance has not been done on a regular basis. Hence extreme water outages.

Then consider the time it takes to clear and re-pressurize all those lines and then ensure the water is potable? All those wasted man hours that could have been avoided by simple, regular and consistent preventative maintenance.

Or where is the master plan for disasters that is regularly updated with current information and details for all island critical infrastructure? Can anyone find one and find out when was the last time it was updated?

Or how many times per year is that master plan (if it even exists) test run by civil defense to ensure all the proper and necessary pieces of critical gear and competent and knowledgeable staff are in place and ready to deal with any disaster?

Are any of these exercises even conducted in cooperation with our military neighbors to ensure across-the-board support in every direction that may be conceivably necessary during a disaster?

Is there really a plan for keeping the community consistently informed with the who, what, where, when, why, and how we are – as an island community – to avoid as much panic and frustration possible during times like these?

Where were our elected officials and critical government management staff during times of peaceful living, and what are they doing to avoid  such problems in the future?

Did they do their job of preparing the island for disasters or are they gaming the political system for their own gain or the gain of their political supporters?

Citizens really need to ask themselves these critical questions.

Additionally, the media needs to fulfill their responsibility as the fourth estate and ensure work as outlined above continues for the safety of everyone on Guam.

Just remember it is the responsibility of the media to hold the feet of public officials to the fire in good times and in bad. 

Their job isn’t to be buddies with key elected officials!

Ensure that our island is much better prepared for the next disaster. 

Remember other significant storms we’ve endured like Pamela in 1976, Russ in 1990, Yuri 1991, Omar and Gay in 1992 and Paka in 1997 to name a few.

Mark my word, it’s not a matter of if, but rather when!

Harden up Guam! 



Lee P. Webber is a businessman and civic advocate, the former publisher of the Pacific Daily News, a former president and publisher of the Honolulu Advertiser, and a former director of operations for USA Today International/Asia


  • Trump was right about the corrupt fake news media! We have it here on our little tiny island. The media here is has become an extension of the government and governors public information office. There is no longer any investigative journalism that reports on the corruption taking place at the highest levels of government! All you have to do is look at all the former news casters and where they are now, working for the governor/government, they are just cronies to who ever is the governor at the time. They know who they are. They are part of the corruption! Shameful!!!

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