HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into Saipan in the middle of the night, packing winds clocked at close to 180 miles per hour.
“The wind was a screaming, ripping noise. Some people said it sounded like a freight train going through,” said Dean Sensui, a Hawaii resident who is in Saipan for meetings of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.
By telephone from his hotel, Sensui told Hawaii News Now what some of his colleagues did during the height of the storm.
"They put some of their bedding in the bathtub and kept far away from the sliding glass doors and balconies," he said.
Yutu decimated communities on Saipan and the smaller island of Tinian.
Officials from the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands said it will take months to recover.
John San Nicholas is from Tinian. He lives in Manoa.
"It affects us that our families are hurt," he said. "It also affects us that friends, family, people we grew up with lost everything."
Most of Jay Aldan’s family is in Saipan. He said the photos damage on friends' Facebook pages is heartbreaking.
"From social media, from friends and family, total devastation really. Any house that is not concrete is gone or is completely dilapidated," he said.
Tinian native Raybrent Iglecias is in Hawaii attending community college.
His family sent him pictures of what used to be their home.
"It's not even recognizable anymore. That's the sad part, seeing pictures of what used to be home and it doesn't even look like home anymore," he said.
Aldan said there are about 30 people from Saipan on Oahu for medical treatment. They’re desperate to get home but can’t because Yutu crippled Saipan’s airport.
“I know the airports aren’t working right now,” he said.
"It's hard on us," Iglecias said. "We can't fly there and help out."
Power on Saipan and Tinian could be out for months.
Aldan's Northern Marianas Club Hawaii plan to fill a shipping container with emergency supplies to send home.
“After we fill this container is when we want to focus on maybe monetary fundraising. But for now we just want to send the essentials home,” he said.