Cat 5 Typhoon Yutu devastates Saipan, Tinian

(Updated Oct. 30.)

Just three years after Typhoon Soudelor, a Category 4 monster with sustained winds of 130 mph with gusts in excess of 160 mph, became the worst storm to strike Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands in nearly 30 years, beleaguered citizens of the U.S. Trust Territory are facing another serious crisis.

Surprisingly, however, if early video is any indication, many of the larger buildings along the Saipan shore appeared to be in better shape than I expected, based on the early reports.  To view the brief Oct. 26 Saipan KSPN2 News “Typhoon Yutu Round-Up,” please click here.  .

On the other hand, global satellite images present a far starker view of Yutu’s destruction.  To view the Weather Channel’s “Super Typhoon Yutu’s Destruction in Saipan, Tinian Seen in Before and After Satellite Photos,” please click here.

This aerial drone photo shows the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu on Saipan. (Courtesy Raymond Zapanta, Saipan Tribune. )

The Washington Post  framed the awful news as well as any of the U.S. media it its Oct. 25 headline: Category 5 typhoon Yutu devastates the Northern Marianas in worst storm to hit any part of U.S. since 1935:

Typhoon Yutu’s 180 mph winds overturned cars, knocked down hundreds of power poles and left an island of thousands without a medical center and another without an airport.  Buildings were reduced to haphazard piles of tin and wood; if a structure wasn’t made of concrete, one resident said, it was probably wiped out by the most powerful tropical cyclone to hit any part of the United States since 1935.

. . . According to figures released by the Weather Underground website, Yutu was tied with the fifth-highest wind speed of any storm on record as it made landfall. Only a few storms, including 2013′s Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines, have been stronger, and even then not by much. For the United States, just one storm — the 1935 Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys — is believed to have been more powerful.

To read more of the Washington Post story, please click here.

Damage from Super Typhoon Yutu is shown outside Glenn Hunter’s home on Saipan, on Oct. 25, 2018.  As the typhoon crossed over the island, the walls shook in Hunter’s concrete home, a tin roof over the garage blew away and howling winds terrified his cats. Maximum sustained winds of 180 mph were recorded around the eye of Yutu, which passed over Tinian and Saipan early Thursday local time.  (Courtesy Glen Hunter via AP.)

Everyone knows know about Hurricane Michael, which made landfall at Mexico Beach, Fla., as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph on Oct. 10, and has claimed at least 54 deaths, but if you blinked you’d miss the news about YutuBecause the fortunes of the approximately 55,000-plus indigenous people of the Trust Territory of the Mariana Islands, consisting mainly of Saipan and Tinian, present no immediate political benefit to the U.S. media establishment, network coverage of the tragedy has been scant. 

In the Weather Channel’s Oct. 26 update, Super Typhoon Yutu Impacts: 1 Killed, 133 Injured by Storm,” we learn:

  • Super Typhoon Yutu left major damage on the Northern Mariana Islands after a direct hit.
  • The entire island of Saipan suffered damage and it may take weeks to restore power to everyone.
  • The governor’s office confirmed one death and at least 133 injuries in Saipan.

In an Oct. 26 story, Tinian destruction: 10 out of 10,” the Saipan Tribune reported, “On the smaller island of Tinian, which took a direct hit from Super Typhoon Yutu, most of the houses were destroyed, and even some concrete ones were reduced to rubble, resident Juanita Mendiola said.”

Recovery efforts were well under way by Oct. 29, and in a few parts of the island, power had been restored.  To see the latest KSPN2 News reports, please click here.

Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, October was always my favorite month, as its fresh, cool, blue days trumpeted the end of another hot, humid summer, but as we see, it can also be the cruelest month if you live in the wrong place.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel intercede for All on Saipan and Tinian as they embrace their journey to Recovery, Saipan residents Evelyna and Carlos Shoda, spared from certain months without power, wrote from their temporary home in Fountain Valley, Calif.  “Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

And Frances Sablan, secretary of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Committee and a close friend of Marie Castro, its guiding light, wrote in understatement Oct. 25,Si Yu’us Ma’åsi’!  We need all the prayers to help us through this recovery phase!

Just after midnight, Oct. 27, my prayers were answered when I received a brief email from Marie Castro: “Thanks for your prayers,” she wrote.  “Allen [Marie’s nephew] came and shut all the shutters to secure the house from the typhoon, Yutu.  I was in total darkness for two days.  I did not have any damage around the house, everything is OK other than fallen trees along Navy Hill.  I was reading the book [Truth at Last, presumably].”

With the recent news of Josephine Blanco Akiyama’s return to Saipan at age 92, I had been cautiously hopeful that some progress was being made there in favor of the planned Earhart Memorial Monument.  But this worthy cause and all the controversy it brings will now be set aside for another time, as far more pressing matters occupy the unlucky citizens of Saipan, Tinian and the rest of the Mariana Islands.

Your prayers are needed and appreciated.


5 responses

  1. They need to add a button other than “like”: something like “weeping” or “horrified” or “stunned”.

    This is hideously tragic news. My heart and prayers go to those living in the Marianas. Any time one falls victim to acts of nature, especially on such a large scale, it is a solemn reminder of the fragility of our lives and our minuscule and very temporary role in the larger scheme of the universe. 2018 continues to dish out hardship and suffering to many thousands across the world.

    You are correct about the scant if any notice given to this by US media, though I am skeptical that it is due to the lack of return on political fortunes: the US media needs no excuse or invitation to create its own reality – legitimate or not, though probably mostly the latter. Current events show that “news” and “facts” are now the substance of improvisational performance artists, most definitely with political intentions but also motivated by what I perceive to be demonic influences. Hatred and a desire to harm are inundating this world. Perhaps Mother Nature in the Marianas was also contaminated by this contagion of evil.


    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Wolfie. Nice to see you back here.


  2. William H. Trail | Reply


    Have you heard from Marie? Is she safe? Will keep everyone in prayer.

    All best,



    1. William,

      I heard from Frances Sablan, the secretary of the committee, who sent the short note I quoted in the post. In my reply I asked about Marie and the others, but have not heard from her. Not sure if she was even on Saipan when she sent it, and wondered about where her Internet source was with all the power down. The Saipan Tribune and KSPN2 TV are up at this time, but the Marianas Variety’s last post was Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 a.m. The Tribune and TV Station must have good generators, would be my guess. Need to update post and insert the KSPN2 Oct. 26 news. The irony is that few if any on Saipan and Tinian will be watching.

      Thanks for yours and everyone’s prayers and concern in this very worrisome situation.



  3. Mike,
    Thank you for this report. I had no idea, as NONE of the MSM covered any of it that I saw here. If not for your report, I would not even be aware of this terrible devastation. Keep up the great work reporting the truth, Mike.


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