Recovery efforts on Saipan and Tinian will be slow, Aydlett said. “This is the worst-case scenario. This is why the building codes in the Marianas are so tough,” he said. “This is going to be the storm which sets the scale for which future storms are compared to.”
Six of Saipan’s 10 shelters were full, he wrote, and Tinian’s shelter was full.
All ports were closed, and flights into the Northern Marianas were canceled, he wrote.
“The Tinian Medical Center sustained extensive damage. Fortunately, no patients were present,” he wrote in a post that also said the Commonwealth Healthcare Center and Rota Medical Center were running on generator power.
The emergency operations center was having phone connectivity issues, Sablan tweeted later in the day. Cellphone and landline service was spotty in Saipan.
Dean Sensui, vice chair for Hawaii on the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, was in Saipan for a council meeting. He hunkered down in his hotel room, where guests were told to remain indoors because winds were still strong Thursday morning.
“From around midnight the wind could be heard whipping by,” he said in a Facebook message. “Down at the restaurant it sounded like a Hollywood soundtrack with the intense rain and howling wind.”
Because he’s in a solid hotel, it wasn’t as scary as living through Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which left the Hawaiian island of Kauai badly damaged, he said. “The fact that we still have Internet access proves how solid their infrastructure is,” he said. “Hawaii and others should study the Marianas to understand how to design and build communication grids that can withstand a storm.”
The Northern Marianas have a population of about 55,000 people.
Waves of 25 to 40 feet were expected around the eye of the storm, and flooding is likely, forecasters said.
A typhoon warning was in effect for Saipan, Tinian and Rota. A tropical storm warning was in place for Guam and other southern islands.