Super Typhoon Yutu Slams Into Northern Mariana Islands
By DeAnna Taylor
Update 10:57am, 10/26/2018:
An outpouring of prayers have been circulating on Twitter for those affected by the storm.
Prayers to all of Saipan and Tinian pic.twitter.com/14L813h5ld
— DarleneM (@Darlene17562376) October 24, 2018
Both of the major islands, Saipan and Tinian, were extensively damaged by the storm. A 44-year old woman was killed on Tinian. While this is the only death reported thus far, 100 homes were destroyed in Tinian as well.
My heart is with the people of the CNMI. To all my friends on Saipan and Tinian, I know you are strong island warriors. #SuperTyphoonYutu was a catastrophic blow, but you will pull through this trying time together.
— R A B A N A N D A (@Rabananda) October 25, 2018
“Tinian has been devastated by Typhoon Yutu,” the city’s mayor Joey P. San Nicolas said Thursday, according to USA Today. “The homes, main roads have been destroyed. Our critical infrastructure has been compromised. We currently have no power and water. Our ports at this time are inaccessible and several points within the island are inaccessible.”
Saipan Airport today from the Guam Daily Post pic.twitter.com/vhqTiPSLen
— Saipanagupa (@agupasaipan) October 25, 2018
The Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth, are located about 3,800 miles west of Hawaii with a population of 55,000. Super Typhoon “Yutu” crossed over the islands on Thursday. The typhoon tied for the strongest storm anywhere in the world in 2018.
The storm produced sustained winds of over 180 miles per hour and left devastating damage.
The impact was so bad that the walls of a concrete home, owned by resident Glen Hunter, were shaking. “At its peak, it felt like many trains running constant,” Hunter, of Saipan, wrote in a Facebook message to The Associated Press. “As it peaked, the wind was constant and the sound horrifying.”
On Wednesday evening, the weather service in Guam issued dire warnings of possible destruction of homes and others buildings. “Collapse of some residential structures will put lives at risk,” the update said. “Airborne debris will cause extensive damage.”
The same update warned residents of falling glass from blown-out windows, fallen trees, and water and power outages that could last for days and even weeks after the storm passes. Residents were also warned that the winds would be so strong that “most homes will sustain severe damage with potential for complete roof failure and wall collapse. Most industrial buildings will be destroyed.”
Hunter, who has lived on the islands all of his life, is used to strong storms hitting the area as they live in “typhoon alley.” However, Hunter wrote that this is the worst storm he has seen. “We knew it was going to be big,” he said, “but wow.”
Power had already been knocked out on Wednesday, and Hunter was preparing to be without electricity and water for months. The island shut down its government offices and schools two days in advance. Some gas stations were out of gas as early as Tuesday.
Meteorologist Matthew Foster in Honolulu said Yutu is moving quickly enough that the main concern will be the strong winds, not huge amounts of rain that have been associated with other recent hurricanes.
“It’s a very powerful storm,” Foster said. “It’s going to be more of a wind damage threat versus rain.”
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.