GUAM PICKS UP PIECES AFTER SUPERTYPHOON

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News/PINA) - As Guam residents began piecing their homes and lives together after Supertyphoon Pongsona, American federal and local officials began working to rebuild the island.

Pongsona hit the island with sustained winds of 150mph and gusts to 184mph, essentially flattening parts of the island.

Guam Fire Department and Guam National Guard members were assigned to search for people who may have been stranded without shelter or transportation, officials said.

John Ryan, spokesman for Governor Carl Gutierrez, said during the first hours after the storm, crews concentrated on pulling trapped people from collapsed houses and finding shelter for the homeless.

"This was a bad typhoon. We are trying to rescue people who may still be trapped and getting people who may have lost their homes into shelters by nightfall," Ryan said.

Meanwhile, David Fukutami, Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinating officer said federal support would be long-term.

Gerald Yingling, executive manager of Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, said the airport's priority now is to ensure Federal Emergency Management Agency planes can land safely.

Andersen Air Force Base's airport was hit worse than the civilian airport, so asking the Air Force for help is not feasible, he added.

Port Authority of Guam officials said damage assessments at that facility were slow going, hampered by fires at a fuel tank farm.

Firefighters from Andersen Air Force Base, the airport and the local fire department were working to keep other tanks of airplane fuel from catching fire.

Government directors urged people to stay home or in shelters.

Mayors' offices already have begun cleanup and recovery efforts in their villages.

Mayors' Council President Robert S. Lizama said mayors are concerned that residents whose homes were destroyed by Supertyphoon Pongsona need different types of assistance.

"They have families out there who are calling the mayors' offices because they have no place to stay," said Lizama, who also is Yigo's mayor.

Other people are asking for tarps and tents so they can sleep near their homes because they are afraid that people may loot them, he said.

Guam Police Department officials said officers are on rotating shifts to ensure maximum force, especially during evenings.

Vince Leon Guerrero, Department of Education response activity coordinator, said 15 public schools are being used as shelters.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org

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