Thousands on Guam without water, power after Typhoon Dolphin strikes island, destroys homes


Typhoon Dolphin batters Guam.

Many Guam residents were left without power or water yesterday while hundreds remained in island storm shelters.

More than 3,300 Guam Waterworks Authority subscribers experienced water outages and 40 percent of Guam Power Authority customers experienced power outages that lasted through yesterday, according to GPA and GWA spokeswoman Heidi Ballendorf.

Ballendorf said more than five of the emergency generators used to power water wells experienced malfunctions, which left about 8.2 percent of the agency's 41,000 customers without water.

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According to Ballendorf, crews installed the emergency generators before Dolphin's approach when they discovered more than five generators would not start.

In response, GWA electricians were deployed yesterday while the island was still in Condition of Readiness 1 to fix the downed generators.

GWA and Guam EPA lab technicians also were out yesterday at some of the 400 points along a 700-mile-long GWA water line to test water quality.

All residents, particularly those who lost water, are being advised to boil tap water used for cooking and drinking.

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At 3 a.m. yesterday, GPA crews were deployed to restore power to scattered areas.

"Our crews are working in 12-to-14-hour shifts day and night to solve the outages," Ballendorf said.

Ballendorf said the crews' priorities were "feeder" lines, which she said service the most customers.

Prior to the storm hitting the island, Ballendorf said GPA is able to detect the locations of outages as they occur and the moment they happen through smart grids and a remote operating system called SCADA.

"We know where the outages are and we're working diligently to get those back up," Ballendorf said.

Deanne Criswell, a senior federal official from Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters said the agency didn't receive any reports of fatalities or injuries on Guam or in the CNMI.

Criswell said, once the team from Region 9 and the 35-person Incident Management Assistance Team finish their assessments, FEMA will know what types of assistance will need to be provided. FEMA's Region 9 serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Pacific islands.

More than 100 people were moved yesterday from the Maria Ulloa Elementary School shelter to the Astumbo shelter, which housed about 336 residents. The Machananao Elementary School shelter, which housed 199 residents, also remained open.

The other six shelters used during the typhoon were closed.

Once people are situated, officials will work out the next plan of action, governor's spokesman Julius Santos said. Priorities are set on trying to find solutions for these residents, and opening schools by Monday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chip Guard said Guam was well prepared for Dolphin.

"It was unusual to see a small storm like that expand at the last minute," Guard said. "Regardless, I think the island got by really well because of the preparations people made."

Guard added: "This was probably the strongest storm we've had in 10 years."