Micronesia - Typhoon Mitag OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 11 Mar 2002
Ref. OCHA/GVA - 2002/0060
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Federated States of Micronesia - Typhoon MITAG
11 March 2002

After completion of a preliminary assessment conducted by Yap State Government, the Office of the Governor provided the following information, through the OCHA Disaster Response Advisor for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji. This report also includes information from the IFRC.

Background information

1. Yap is one of the four States that make up the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in the Western Pacific. It is located 6 - 10 degrees North and 137 - 148 degrees East in the Western Caroline Islands, 720 km southwest of Guam and 580 km northeast of Palau. Yap State consists of 134 islands and atolls of which 22 are populated by around 8,000 people. Yap Main Island accounts for 100 of the state's total 129 sq. km land area.

Disaster event and impact

2. Tropical Storm MITAG began to impact the eastern part of Yap State on 28 February 2002. It became a typhoon and struck Yap Main Island for a few hours on 3 March. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 95 knots (approximately 175 km/h), with gusts up to 115 knots (approximately 212 km/h). Most of the islands neighbouring Yap Main Island were also impacted by the typhoon. The atolls of Ifalik, Woleai, and Eauripik are reported to have sustained major damage, and others that were close to its path are also likely to have fared badly.

3. There were no deaths or serious injuries reported, but destructive winds and a tidal surge destroyed nearly all the food crops in low-lying areas in the north, northeast, and southern parts of Yap Main Island, up to 400-500 m inland. The tidal surge brought many low-lying areas, including parts of Colonia (the main town), under water for several hours. Some 150-200 people lost their homes, and 129 of them are now being accommodated in temporary shelters. The coastline, the retaining walls and the food crops on Rumung Island, near Maap, in the north of Yap Main Island, were also extensively damaged by the storm surge, which went as far as 1,200 m inland.

4. Power in Colonia was cut for several hours when the typhoon struck but was restored soon after winds subsided. However, downed power lines meant that the north and south of the main island still did not have power three days later. Damages were caused to public facilities, property and roads. Homes and private property including boats, vehicles, and merchandise in stores were destroyed. An assessment of damage to historical and cultural monuments is still underway.

5. There were no major problems caused to the water supply system, though it is possible that the drinking water supply on Yap Main Island and neighbouring islands may have been contaminated. This is yet to be inspected. A limited oil spill in the lagoon was reported, caused by three possible sources - the ship/shore fuel transfer pipes, a fishing training boat that was smashed, or a waterfront gas station that was inundated.

National Response

6. Immediately after the typhoon's impact the Governor of Yap State declared a 30-day state of emergency and requested assistance from the national government. Yap officials conducted a preliminary assessment of the damage, which was forwarded to the President of FSM with a request for urgent assistance to conduct a full damage assessment jointly with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other relevant agencies. If despatched, the FEMA team would ideally rendezvous with the patrol boat at Chuuk State to assess the damage to the outlying islands of Yap State, as well as on Yap Main Island to conduct the joint damage assessment with local officials.

7. The Yap Chapter of the Micronesia Red Cross Society is involved in the Government's Task Force to respond to the typhoon. It is organising the distribution to the most affected people of relief supplies from pre-positioned stocks that includes blankets, cooking sets, hurricane lamps, plastic sheets and water containers.

International response

8. No international assistance has been notified to OCHA so far.

9. OCHA is in contact with the relevant government authorities in the Federated States of Micronesia through the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Advisor for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji, and will revert with further information, if and when available.

10. This situation report, together with information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. R. Muller / Ms. M. Spaak / Ms. C. Cassabalian
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 31 31 / 17 28 / 11 73

Press contact:
(in GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.)- Ms. Phyllis Lee, direct Tel. +1-212-963 48 32

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.