Typhoon Chata'an Guam public damage hits $59.9 million

From Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i

By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAG=C5TÑA, Guam (July 19, 2002 - Pacific Daily News) - The tally of damage the island incurred during Typhoon Chata'an has risen to $59.9 million, according to preliminary assessments from the Office of Civil Defense.

"Remember, this number is for public facilities. It does not include damage to nonprofit organizations, private schools or businesses," said Maj. Gen. Benny Paulino, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard and head of Civil Defense.

"But we don't expect to see a significant increase in the costs once all are in."

Government workers are slowly putting the island back together. Trash collection has resumed, 77 percent of the island's power has been restored, phone lines are being repaired and shelters for those who lost homes are expected to close by the end of the business day today.


Civil Defense hopes all families will have vacated the 14 Department of Education schools being used as shelters by today, said Paulino, who is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday there were 1,463 people or 242 families in shelters, said Evelyn Salas, DOE spokeswoman.

"The numbers are decreasing and so far we haven't made any changes as to when school will start," she said.

Year-round schools are scheduled to resume classes July 30 and all other public schools follow suit the following week, DOE officials have said.

Paulino said schools need to be emptied to give the education department adequate time to make repairs before the school year begins.

"Now it's just a matter of going back and catching those family members that have not gotten tents," he said, adding that there will not be a tent city erected for those who lost homes to Chata'an on July 5 or Typhoon Halong on July 10.

So far, 315 tents have been distributed to families, and more are expected to be distributed today, he said.

Paulino noted that 36 families are unable to make use of tents because they lived in apartments too severely damaged for repairs.

Civil Defense has contracted with the American Red Cross to help those families apply for federal assistance, he said.


Guam Telephone Authority finished repairs on phone lines in Agat and Merizo damaged during Chata'an, GTA spokeswoman Lucy Perez said yesterday.

GTA crews were working to repair fiber-optic cable and phone pedestals in southern villages, she said.

Perez said the crews will now begin to work on remote "outer areas" to restore phone service.

"We want people to remember, however, that as the days get hotter, service may fluctuate up and down because the heat and moisture can short out ... the system," she said.

Debris stations

The Department of Public Works, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are trying to decide the best way to remove debris from 17 closed typhoon debris dumpsites, Paulino said.

To dispose of typhoon debris, residents still can go to three sites: Asan, across from the War in the Pacific National Historical Park along Marine Drive; in Tiyan near the Division of Motor Vehicles; and at the Dededo Sports Complex along Harmon Loop Road. Those sites are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., he said.

Residents should remember they cannot dispose of household waste -- including oil, paint or batteries -- commercial waste, food waste and dead animals at the sites, Paulino said.