RMI Fishing, Yachting Fleet Battered By Storm

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Half of vessels anchored in lagoon break loose, drag moorings

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, July 6, 2015) – The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a "typhoon formation alert" for the Marshall Islands Friday night, saying a tropical typhoon was building between Majuro and Kwajalein, the two most populated atolls in this western Pacific nation.

"We’ve been here through many westerlies (storms), but I have never seen anything quite so ferocious," said Cary Evarts, an American yacht owner who has lived on his vessel "Seal" in Majuro for over 15 years.

A Majuro business’ shoreline bar and store is hit by big waves kicked up by a tropical depression that was building to typhoon strength Friday night in the Marshall Islands.

"We’ve seen up to 35 knot winds, but today it peaked at 55 knots." He said waves in the normally calm lagoon were as high as eight feet, nearly double the worst previous storm he has seen.

Local fishermen agreed with Evarts assessment of the storm kicked up by a tropical depression beginning early Friday. "All these years, this is the worst I’ve seen," said longtime local fisherman Kyle Aliven.

The three-mile long eastern lagoon shoreline of the capital atoll of the Marshall Islands is devastated by the heavy surf, Evarts said. Several fishing vessels and yachts broke loose from their moorings and either were blown onto reefs or up into people’s backyards. "We’ve seen inundation and damage all along the shoreline," Evarts added.

Newly built portions of homes collapsed, docks washed away, and high volumes of debris washed in from the storm.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center warned boaters of hazardous surf conditions that "will coincide with a rising spring tide cycle resulting in coastal inundation up to two feet along south and west facing shores on Majuro, Jaluit and Mili atolls through Saturday evening."

Evarts estimated that 50 percent of the approximately 50 vessels anchored in Majuro’s lagoon broke loose or dragged their moorings Friday.

A tropical depression kicked up high winds and surf that battered usual placid shores around the capital, while on land the winds tore off some roofs, knocked trees down on roads slowing traffic, and caused a power outage affecting half of the capital city Friday.

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