‘Keep us in your prayers’: Guam residents brace for Typhoon Mawar

Meteorologists are calling it the strongest storm to directly hit Guam in six decades
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Typhoon Mawar is poised to hit the U.S. territory of Guam, bringing with it Category 4 hurricane force winds, a significant storm surge and heavy rainfall.

Meteorologists are calling it the strongest storm to directly hit Guam in six decades, and emergency responders expect the fallout to last for weeks.

“There’s a lot of anxiety. Everyone here knows there’s a high risk of typhoons. And everyone waits for the big typhoon each decade. And they would say that we were due for one. So everyone is sitting here anxious,” said Dr. Kevin McDermott, Chief Medical Officer for the Guam Veteran Affairs clinic.

“The typhoon was supposed to kind of hit us, probably yesterday afternoon. And now it’s going so slow. It’s just this long drawn out. So everyone is just pins and needles sitting and waiting.”

He says hospitals and the entire island spent weeks preparing for this big one.

“Everyone’s hunkered down. We have our emergency shelters active, the government has responded very well. The hospitals are running with capacity. And we’re all we’re all talking to each other. We’re all making sure that we’re all taken care of the best we can,” said Dr. McDermott.

As of Wednesday midday Guam time, residents witnessed strong winds and power outages, with the full impact of a storm surge and heavy rain expected in the afternoon.

Meteorologists expect Typhoon Mawar to be stronger than Typhoon Pongsona which hit Guam in 2002. KUAM News reporter Nick Delgado recalls the aftermath of that one.

“I just remember the massive floodwaters coming into my family home. This the glass, windows and sliding doors cracked in the middle of it in the height of the storm. So it was me and my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, doing whatever we can to just hold, hold things together and brace for the storm,” he said.

“Times without power, times without any of our utilities, having to collect even rain, rainfall water to wash our clothes and do other personal hygiene.”

On Monday local time, Guam’s Governor ordered residents to evacuate low-lying coastal areas, stay indoors and keep roads clear for emergency responders.

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration to provide federal resources before and after the typhoon.

Among the agencies on site to help -- FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, Salvation Army and American Red Cross.

“Before the storm, were able to make sure that a handful of people arrived on island to help start the coordination and get everything ready. And just be boots on the ground active as far as making sure everyone gets help and assistance,” said Matthew Wells, regional communications director for the American Red Cross of Hawaii.

In a statement to HNN, U.S. Army Pacific said it is “the conduit between civil authorities and support from the Department of Defense once Typhoon Mawar passes through the area. We have personnel on the ground to assist in assessment and coordination, and to provide whatever assistance is deemed necessary in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local government officials.”

“Keep us in your prayers. Keep us in your thoughts. That’s all we can ask for at this point. Yes, we are scared,” Delgado said. “But if you’re from Guam, you know that we got this Guam, you know that we’ll do our best to stay safe and stay inside and stay alive.”

Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about available positions, registering, and training and redcross.org/donate to make a contribution. Once the storm has passed, the Red Cross will focus on damage assessment and distribution of emergency supplies.