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By Katie Worth

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 23) - Typhoon Chaba made its closest approach to Guam just before 11 last night, packing powerful winds that grounded flights, flooded roads and homes, closed stores and sent close to 2,000 residents scurrying to seek refuge in typhoon shelters.

As of 11 p.m., the typhoon's center was 85 miles northeast of Guam and 30 miles northeast of Rota, said National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge Genny Miller. Rota had peak winds of 132 mph as of 11 p.m.

Guam experienced a peak wind strength of 61 mph as of 10 p.m., Miller said.

"Rota is getting really pounded right now," Miller said shortly after 11 last night. She said Chaba will have left the Marianas by this morning.

Sustained winds of 90 to 100 miles per hour were expected in the Northern Marianas, with gusts of up to 120 mph.

Gov. Felix Camacho declared Guam in a state of emergency yesterday and authorized spending of up to $250,000 for emergency civil defense, public safety and health-care costs.

The island began to flood yesterday afternoon and by last night there were reports of flooding throughout the island, according to the Office of Civil Defense.

Agajan Bridge on Route 4 in Inarajan was impassable, under four feet of water, officials said. Marine Corps Drive near Polaris Point also was flooded, causing treacherous driving conditions.

Meanwhile, some 1,860 people sought refuge in the island's 10 schools-turned-typhoon shelters. By 8 last night, four of the northern shelters were filled to capacity and new arrivals were being bused to other shelters.

Department of Education spokesman Gerry Cruz said all of the island's public schools will be closed at least until Tuesday to allow for damage assessments, and some may be forced to stay closed longer, depending on the amount of damage sustained and how quickly the shelters close, he said.

The University of Guam announced there will be no classes today.

All government of Guam agencies are closed until Condition of Readiness 4 has been restored, according to Shawn Gumataotao, governor's spokesman and the lead public information officer for Civil Defense's Joint Information Center.

Yesterday, Civil Defense's Emergency Operation Center was working from the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport because the air conditioners at their offices in Government House in Agana Heights were not working.

Meanwhile, all flights in and out of the airport were grounded yesterday morning and are expected to return to normal today.

By around 2 p.m. yesterday, Guam Waterworks Authority had shut down the Ugum Water Treatment Plant because of worries that the pumps would clog, said John Pangelinan, GWA response activity coordinator. He said the water reservoir would feed the southern villages dependent on Ugum for a little while, but he urged residents to conserve water.

Pangelinan also said GWA had switched the power source at its wells to generators to reduce the risk of power fluctuations blowing out pumps and engines.

Meanwhile, Guam Power Authority reported power outages in the following areas: Wusstig Road, War Dog Cemetery, Micronesia Mall, Summer Palace, Ypao Road, Harmon Industrial Park and Route 4 in the Ipan, Talofofo, area.

Yesterday morning, both Guam Memorial Hospital and the Naval Hospital put out announcements asking all expectant mothers to report to the hospital as soon as possible, as well as very ill patients. As of last night, Guam Memorial Hospital reported 90 expectant mothers at the hospital.

Both hospitals have announced that all routine appointments and elective surgeries have been canceled today.

For those isolated in the south because of flooding, the Department of Public Health and Social Services opened its Southern Regional Community Health Center for any emergencies.

August 23, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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