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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 9) – Typhoon Sudal's eye was expected to pass very near, if not directly over, the main island of Yap early this morning, bringing with it sustained winds of 115 mph.

Relief organizations yesterday began preparing to provide emergency relief to the island state that is still recovering from last November's Typhoon Lupit.

Located 450 miles southwest of Guam, Yap is one of the four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia. Yap consists of 134 islands and atolls, 22 of which are populated.

Sudal was expected to pass about 75 miles north of the Yapese outer island of Ulithi but began veering southwest Wednesday night, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Mundell.

"The last typhoon we had was Lupit and it did exactly the same thing. It now looks like the eye will go directly over Yap overnight," Mundell said yesterday afternoon.

"There's a chance that if it keeps going southwest it could pass just south of Yap but they can expect typhoon-force winds throughout the night and we are expecting some significant damage results out of Yap as a result of this."

On Yap, officials were scrambling yesterday to prepare the island for the oncoming storm as best they can, said Francis Itimai, disaster control officer for Yap state.

Itimai said the people living in coastal areas of Yap island were evacuated yesterday morning to typhoon shelters in the village schools and government facilities strong enough to withstand the typhoon.

Government officials have activated Yap's command post and all relevant agencies are now working to help keep people safe, he said.

Yap has sent a pre-emptive request to the FSM government in Pohnpei and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance immediately after the storm.

Maite resident Louis Rama, a native of Ulithi and deacon at Nuestra Señora de las Aguas Church in Mongmong, said he plans to lead a prayer to ask for the safety of those living on Yap and the state's outer islands. He said he is worried about his family on the tiny island.

"It's kind of scary when you hear on the radio or read in the newspaper that the typhoon is going to hit," said Rama, 52.

"My adopted mom is still on Ulithi. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunties and cousins that are all out there. What really worries me more is that one of my aunties is very sick with cancer and I don't think this typhoon will help her any."

Rama said his aunt cannot be helped by chemotherapy and that the only painkiller available on the island is Tylenol or aspirin.

Besides prayer, Rama said he expects the Yapese community living on Guam will likely come together after the typhoon to solicit donations for Yap.

Rama said the community came together after November's typhoon and was able to help the outer islanders, thanks to the "very generous" donations from Guam residents and businesses.

Shannon Murphy, of the Ayuda Foundation, said the organization has been continuously assisting the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk that have not recovered from Lupit.

Lupit hit the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk on Nov. 25, destroying many of those islands' crops, buildings, water and power supplies, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Ayuda, a nonprofit organization that specializes in medical relief, has been working with the people who run the ship Sea Haven to deliver supplies to the outer islands since the last typhoon.

"We here in Guam know what it's like to have two typhoons in a 12-month period, so as soon as we heard it didn't hit Guam and it was heading for Yap, we said, 'Oh boy, here we go again,"' Murphy said.

She said Ayuda had just sent 2,000 pounds of supplies to Pohnpei for delivery to the outer islands, and FEMA is still assisting.

Murphy said Ayuda has contacted the Guam Pharmacy Association to see if the island's pharmacies can assist with donations of over-the-counter medicines.

Ailments are expected to pop up after a storm of such magnitude strikes an island where many homes are still made of wood and tin.

Joseph Edhlund -- whose small airline, Sky Blue Air, transported food, water and medical relief to the outer islands days after Typhoon Lupit -- said he is preparing to once again take flight once Sudal subsides.

Edhlund, whose company operates the relief flights at its own expense, said he thinks that most of the island's communications will be blown away by the storm so he plans to meet Itimai and other officials once there so that he can relay a message of what will be needed.

"This is our people down there, we love those people down there and we are going to do what we can to help," said Edhlund, who plans to soon offer a charter flight to the islands.

"We'd like to fly (today), but the winds might still be too strong, so we'll probably leave Saturday morning and the first thing we're going to bring out is doctors, medical supplies and food and water."

April 9, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com


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