Red Cross prepared to deploy up to 200 people to Guam after Typhoon Mawar
All eyes are on Guam in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. Residents and officials emerged from homes and shelters Thursday to survey the damage done to the U.S. Pacific territory after a long night of hunkering down as Mawar's howling winds shredded trees, flipped vehicles and knocked out utilities.
The central and northern parts of the island received more than 2 feet of rain as the eyewall passed, and most of Guam received about a foot of rain during the storm. The island's international airport flooded, and the swirling storm churned up a storm surge and waves that crashed through coastal reefs.
The strongest typhoon to hit the territory of roughly 150,000 people since 2002, Mawar briefly made landfall Wednesday night as a Category 4 storm at Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island before moving back offshore, National Weather Service meteorologists said.
The scope of the damage was difficult to ascertain early on, with power and internet failures making communication with the far-flung island difficult.
"We do expect the damage on Guam could be devastating. Something like 40,000 homes are built with lighter construction materials and those could see considerable damage," said Diane Peters-Nguyen, the CEO of the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region, which covers Guam, Hawaiʻi, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
She said over a dozen Red Cross disaster workers are already on Guam and have weathered the storm, including a trained leadership team.
"We have up to 200 more seasoned, trained Red Cross disaster responders ready to deploy and we also have been assembling materiel to be deployed to the islands," she said. "We have already pre-positioned some relief items like water, shelf-stable meals, cleanup kits, tarps and hygiene supplies. We are ready as soon as the conditions permit us to get out there."
Guam is about 3,800 miles west of Hawaiʻi and 1,600 miles east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Guam is 20 hours ahead of Hawaiʻi.
This interview aired on The Conversation on May 24, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.