A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
On Friday, 27 March 2015, a tropical depression was noted forming in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), near Pohnpei state and the national capital in Palikir. The storm continued gathering strength and developed into a strong and dangerous typhoon – Typhoon Maysak – which was upgraded to a super typhoon. From Pohnpei it tracked west hitting Chuuk lagoon on Sunday 29 March 2015. Chuuk state has the largest population in Micronesia with approximately 50,000 people, spread across 11 major islands and many smaller islands. The core of the storm moved directly over the lagoon with damaging winds and torrential rainfall. Many outer islands also experienced strong destructive winds and damage.
The typhoon then continued on its path west towards Yap State (population of approximately 11,000) making landfall on Tuesday 31 March and Wednesday the 1 April 2015. Yap consists of 14 outer islands (mostly atolls) reaching to the east and south for some 800 km, covering 102 km2 . The typhoon is believed to have made landfall in Ulithi atoll in the north-west (consisting of approximately 900 people across the islands of Mogmog, Asor, Falalop and Fedrai), with strong destructive winds also reported on neighbouring islands and the main island of Yap.
On 30 March, the President of FSM issued an emergency declaration, allocating USD 100,000 for relief efforts and establishing a National Emergency Taskforce, following the declaration of a state of emergency by the Governors of Chuuk and Yap.
Impact of the disaster
Communications with the affected areas have been limited due to power outages and damaged communications systems. Assessments are underway but it could be some time before the full extent of damage across all islands and atolls is known.
The following is based on the provisional information received by Micronesia Red Cross Society (MRCS) and government assessment teams:
Situation in Chuuk State
Preliminary assessments to date have been limited to the main island of Weno and surrounding islands, revealing widespread destruction to houses, infrastructure, crops and water sources.
In the immediate aftermath of the typhoon, the Chuuk governor declared a state of emergency with “extensive damage to private and public properties including schools, health facilities, public utilities, private residences, and the sinking of several fishing, passenger, and dive ships.”
National authorities confirmed five deaths due to severe injuries sustained at the height of the typhoon.
Following rapid needs assessments in the state capital of Weno, it has been estimated that between 60 to 80 per cent houses are badly damaged, with over 800 homes completely destroyed and more than 6,000 people displaced and taking refuge with relatives or in over-crowded emergency shelters.
The population of Chuuk is highly reliant on subsistence farming, and reports of 90 per cent damage to crops has left many with no alternative food sources.
There is reported to be some contamination of water sources from water catchment and wells on the main island and in the lagoon.
Situation in Yap State
The Ulithi Atoll took the most direct hit from the typhoon, with the majority of homes destroyed and reports of significant and widespread damage to crops and infrastructure as well as possible contamination of food and water sources.
The main island of Yap and other outlying islands including Ifaluk, Fais, Faraulep, Tamatam and Fathrai also felt strong destructive winds, with reports of substantial damage to crops, buildings and water sources.
While many displaced families are currently staying with friends and relatives, there are a significant number of people remaining in overcrowded shelters. Thus emergency shelter has been determined as a high priority.
There are no reports of serious injuries or casualties from Yap at this stage, and health infrastructure (including hospitals and dispensaries) remains operational.
While Typhoon Maysak has long passed through the FSM, of significant concern is a recent, new, storm formation alert which has been issued for the region. This has resulted in local travel warnings for Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae over the coming week, which could significantly impact travel and access to affected locations over the coming days