HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Some homes on a western Pacific Ocean island have been destroyed by typhoon-force winds, which were expected to bear down on a neighboring island in the Federated States of Micronesia.
“A lot of houses and roofs were blown away, and trees and telephone poles on the main road were blown down,” Kane Faylim, airport manager for Chuuk state government, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service in Guam said residents on Yap Island could experience winds of 74 mph or higher from Typhoon Maysak early Wednesday morning. Telephone calls to the island were not connecting.
Widespread damage was reported in Chuuk, which suffered damage Monday.
Many homes made out of tin were destroyed, said Perry Killion, a pastor who also works at the National Weather Service office in Chuuk. Many residents were without water and sought shelter at schools, he told the Pacific Daily News, a newspaper in Guam.
Weather service meteorologist Derek Williams said Tuesday afternoon that Maysak is expected to hit the Philippines on Sunday or Monday.
“Its official track has it straight toward Luzon,” he said. Williams said the storm is expected to weaken significantly when it gets to the Philippine Sea, but the storm is still expected to cause widespread damage there such as flooding.
Though the storm may weaken when it travels away from Micronesia, it is an imminent threat to low-lying islands in Yap State now.
“Our main concern is the atolls northwest of Yap, Fais and Ulithi. The sustained winds are around 150 miles per hour at this point, gusting to 180.”
It is expected to pass just north of Fais this afternoon. The eye is about 61 miles away.
“The weather conditions are deteriorating rapidly. Typhoon conditions on Fais is imminent,” he said. Ulithi is an atoll about 12 feet above sea level, and Fais is 30 feet above sea level. “The entire island could be covered in water from storm surge.” The storm is expected to hit Ulithi tonight.
Hiroyuki Mori, 27, told the Daily News that his home suffered damage, as did those of his neighbors and a nearby hotel in Weno.
“No one was without damage, and we were prepared,” he said. “I was lucky. I have a concrete house, unfortunately I (can) not say the same for many of my fellow Chuukese. Ships have sunk. Homes destroyed. Breadfruits, mangoes, bananas and coconuts, our local source of food … trimmed down to just stems and branches.”
Faylim told the AP he doesn’t know when the government will be able to fully assess the damage, and he described the situation as difficult.
He said the airport has been reopened after large waves deposited rocks on one of the runways, which airport employees had to clear.
Located about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, the Federated States of Micronesia consists of 607 islands with a population of about 107,000. About 11,000 people live on Yap Island.
Japan began administrating the islands under a League of Nations mandate in 1920. That ended with World War II, and Micronesia became part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It attained independence under a Compact of Free Association with the United States in 1986.