Guam views Mawar’s destruction

Restoring essential services begins as governor gives all-clear

The waters of the Hagatna River overflow its banks and encroach into the Bank of Guam parking lot Thursday in Hagatna, Guam, in the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar. (AP/The Pacific Daily/Rick Cruz)

HAGATNA, Guam -- Guam's governor gave the all-clear Thursday after Typhoon Mawar tore through the second-largest U.S. territory the night before, ripping off roofs, shredding trees and leaving much of the remote Pacific island without power and utilities.

There were minor injuries reported but no fatalities, according to the office of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. She declared the "all clear" Thursday evening, returning the island to its typical condition of typhoon readiness as the National Weather Service lifted a typhoon watch.

She thanked the people of Guam for keeping themselves safe and protected during the storm.

"We now continue to focus our efforts on repairing infrastructure and restoring services to residents," Leon Guerrero said in a statement. "After speaking with department leaders and seeing the incredible rapid response to the storm I am confident we will make significant progresses towards restoration of services."

Survey and work crews were assessing damage at military installations, which were limited to essential personnel only, according to Joint Region Marianas.

The central and northern parts of the island received more than 2 feet of rain as the eyewall passed. The island's international airport flooded and the swirling typhoon churned up a storm surge and waves that crashed through coastal reefs and flooded homes.

"We are waking up to a rather disturbing scene out there across Guam. We're looking out our door and what used to be a jungle looks like toothpicks -- it looks like a scene from the movie 'Twister,' with trees just thrashed apart," Landon Aydlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said in a briefing streamed online.

"Most of Guam is dealing with a major mess that's going to take weeks to clean up," he added.

The strongest typhoon to hit the territory of roughly 150,000 people since 2002, Mawar briefly made landfall around 9 p.m. Wednesday as a Category 4 storm at Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island, weather service officials said.

Power and internet failures made communication on the far-flung island difficult in the early going. Leon Guerrero said in a video message late Thursday morning that roads were passable, but residents should avoid driving and stay home due to ongoing strong winds.

"We have weathered the storm," she said, adding that "the worst has gone by."

Guam Power Authority said crews were working to restore power to critical and priority facilities such as a hospital, water wells and wastewater plants. Guam Waterworks Authority was working to restore water service and had issued a notice advising customers to boil their water.

The A.B. Won Pat International Airport Guam completed damage inspections, with recovery underway. The airport will accommodate humanitarian and cargo flights to Guam.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that more than 130 staffers were pre-staged or already deployed to support the storm response. More than 100 generators as well as emergency communications equipment and specialized personnel have been mobilized. The agency's distribution center is fully stocked with about four times the food and water that was in place during Typhoon Mangkhut in 2018, with additional supplies ready if needed, FEMA said.

The storm is expected to move northwest for days over a large, empty expanse of ocean and enter the Philippine "area of responsibility" late today or early Saturday. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Facebook that officials are preparing, and that the storm could bring heavy rainfall and flooding.

The storm could threaten Taiwan next week. Mawar regained its status as a super typhoon on Thursday, with winds reaching 150 mph. By early today, they had strengthened to 175 mph, according to the weather service. Mawar, which means "rose" in Malay, was forecast to maintain that general course and speed through Saturday.

By early today, Mawar was centered 265 miles west-northwest of Guam and 280 miles west of Rota, Guam's neighbor to the north, moving west-northwest at 14 mph.

Officials also declared all-clear on Rota, Saipan and Tinian on Thursday. Power was knocked out for all of Rota, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. said Thursday night. The island has about 2,500 residents.

Information for this article was contributed by Seth Borenstein, Lolita C. Baldor, Sarah Brumfield, Audrey McAvoy, Mark Thiessen, Stefanie Dazio and Ed Komenda of The Associated Press.

 Gallery: Guam deals with mess from Typhoon Mawar