Cyclone Impact In FSM: Latest Count 4 Dead, 6,700 Displaced

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Far eastern islands of Yap yet to receive relief

By Jasmine Stol

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, April 8, 2015) – As Federated States of Micronesia officials continue to assess the outer, smaller islands of Yap and Chuuk states, more details of damage is being released and at last count, the FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management or OEEM confirmed four people have died and more than 6,700 people in Chuuk are displaced.

A situation report from the FSM OEEM issued yesterday detailed effect on health, agriculture and infrastructure that state officials have uncovered so far. The four dead in Chuuk include one male who died after a tree fell on his house, a child who was killed from a scrap of airborne tin, a newborn who did not make it to the hospital because fallen trees blocked the path and an adult woman who died in a landslide. Ten people were treated for injuries sustained from Typhoon Maysak in Chuuk.

In Yap, there have not been any reported casualties yet and the 18 fishermen who were stranded on Pikolot Island and West Fayew Island have safely returned to their home islands.

There is a large concern for the residents in farthest east islands of Yap, who have gone about a week without relief aid. According to Manny Hechanova, assistant director of Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation at the University of Guam, the Faraulep Atoll of Yap and Namonuito Atoll of Chuuk received aid yesterday and today, respectively. The FSM patrol boat has been dispatched and loaded with as much water and emergency rations as it can hold.

Hechanova said the residents are getting water, rice and packages of noodles from the FSM patrol boats. He also said the boats are smaller and don’t have capacity to carry a lot of supplies. After delivering rations, state officials will also be assessing damage to the island from Typhoon Maysak.

"The (FSM patrol boat) will have the first delivery of relief supplies for them," Hechanova said. "This is one week after the storm…. This has always been a concern for us. The other islands have received relief in a matter of days. The middle islands between Yap and Chuuk don’t have airfields and we’re trying to see who’s going to support these people."

Hechanova said the week-long wait without relief forced some residents of Namonuito to drink salt water because they were so thirsty, which caused some gastrointestinal problems. About 180 people live on the islands of Faraulep Atoll, according to FSM health department data.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that ‘The International Organisation for Migration says it is working to install reverse osmosis machines on islands hit by typhoon Maysak last week to restore a stable drinking water supply.’]

According to FSM Office of Environment and Emergency Management, 80 percent of breadfruit and banana trees and 80 percent of taro plants were damaged in Chuuk. In Yap, Ulithi Atoll crops were completely damaged.

The FSM OEEM also reported need for food rations for displaced residents in Chuuk and food rations for 1,200 people in Fais and Ulithi for the next three months to six months.

State officials are also calling for temporary shelters to help the displaced residents in Chuuk and Yap. In Chuuk, 830 houses were destroyed and in Yap, the FSM OEEM reported an immediate need for temporary shelters.

Portable toilets were delivered to Weno in Chuuk for emergency shelters and health personnel are issuing boil water advisories before water is consumed.

Sewer pumps and power has been restored and partially function in Chuuk, and full power restoration may take another week. Power in Yap’s main island is restored while power lines in Ulithi are broken and power poles blown down, the FSM OEEM reported on Monday. Water is partially restored in Chuuk and Ulithi is getting some water supply. In Fais, water is being supplied from a water pump energized by the Pacific Mission Aviation. Both states need immediate water supply repair and restoration because the storm damaged tanks or water was contaminated by salt water.

The nine boats grounded in Chuuk will need some attention as well to minimize oil spillage. While Yap has some telephone and internet services fully restored, more work is needed to service landline cables in Weno, part of Chuuk state. The main cellular tower is operational and technicians from Pohnpei are deployed to assist in repairs of telecommunication services.

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