Saipan residents, Red Cross workers brace for new storms

Photo courtesy American Red Cross

The American Red Cross and Saipan residents are bracing themselves for two new tropical storms threatening this remote U.S. territory.

Typhoon Soudelor blasted Saipan, part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, last week, leaving most of the island without power, water and sewer facilities. The new tropical systems are likely to bring new flooding and further damage the battered island.

“Typhoon Soudelor is the biggest storm to hit Saipan in 30 years, and the situation is desperate and about to get worse,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the American Red Cross, Pacific Islands Region, which includes the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Hawaii.

“We have 90 American Red Cross workers on Saipan who are sheltering in place as they monitor the storm closely. We are keeping our fingers crossed that these storms spare the island of a second round of destruction.”

From Typhoon Soudelor alone, over 1,100 homes were affected, including nearly 600 that were completely destroyed or suffered major damage.

About 600 residents sought refuge in government-run shelters and this number is expected to have grown with the approaching storms.

The Red Cross has already opened close to 700 cases and have provided over 21,700 meals and snacks, over 2,000 health and mental health contacts and over 38,500 emergency relief items to those in need.

Because of the extensive damage, the Red Cross has created a relief plan to get immediate help to people who need it. The program combines financial assistance with critical supplies to help people begin to recover.

Relief supplies include items such as rice, canned foods, hygiene products and cleaning supplies for thousands of people in the hardest hit areas.

And Hawaii residents can donate to the American Red Cross relief efforts in Saipan at Bank of Hawaii branches across the state. Check donations may be made payable to “American Red Cross — Saipan Disaster Relief” and deposited at any Bank of Hawaii branch. Cash donations are also being accepted.

A Saipan relief drive will also happen this weekend at the Pali Highway Safeway: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 21 and 22; and 9 a.m.-noon Sunday, Aug. 23.

Donations most needed are:

  • Unscented baby wipes (body wipes)
  • Disposable disinfectant wipes
  • Brand-new gas cans (all sizes)
  • New batteries (all sizes, must be in original packaging)
  • Head lamps and flashlights (all sizes)
  • Battery-operated lanterns
  • Mosquito coils
  • Bug spray
  • Tarps
  • Pop-up tents
  • New pillows
  • Light blankets
  • Gently used clothing
  • Folding pool chairs (to be used as makeshift beds)
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Board games
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Playing cards

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