US /

In Guam, a Jungle Now 'Looks Like Toothpicks'

Storm was strongest to hit US territory since 2002
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2023 3:48 AM CDT
Guam Dealing With 'Major Mess' After Super Typhoon
In this photo provided by Chris Leavitt, vehicles make their way through a flooded street Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Yigo, Guam, after Typhoon Mawar passed over the island.   (Chris Leavitt via AP)

Many residents of Guam remained without power and utilities Thursday after Typhoon Mawar tore through the remote US Pacific territory the night before and ripped roofs off homes, flipped vehicles, and shredded trees.The strongest typhoon to hit the territory of roughly 150,000 people since 2002, Mawar briefly made landfall around 9pm Wednesday as a Category 4 storm at Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip of the island, weather service officials said. There were no immediate reports of deaths and injuries but the central and northern parts of the island received more than 2 feet of rain as the eyewall passed, the AP reports. 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," said Landon Aydlett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Most of Guam is dealing with a major mess that’s gonna take weeks to clean up," he added. The scope of the damage was difficult to ascertain early on, with power and internet failures making communication on the far-flung island difficult. Guam Gov. Lou 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," the governor said, adding that "the worst has gone by." In a sign of how much help Guam might need, the Navy ordered the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group to head to the island to assist in the recovery effort, according to a US official.

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Winds peeled back the roof of Enrique Baza's mother's house in Yona, allowing water to damage everything inside. "My mom’s house didn’t escape," he said, adding that his mother stayed with him in his concrete home during the storm. He drove around in a pickup truck looking for supplies to repair his mother’s roof, but most stores were without power and only accepting cash. Many wooden or tin homes he passed were badly beaten or collapsed. "It’s kind of a shock," he said. (More Guam stories.)

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