Extreme rain conditions over the past weekend wreaked havoc across the island causing eight (8) landslides on both west and east coasts of Babeldaob and road failures in three (3) different sites, one (1) in Airai and two (2) in Ngermid. Reports also of more soil displacement are still coming in according to Director Brian Melairei of the national Public Works and Capital Improvement Projects.
The three (3) reported landslides on the west coast occurred along the Compact Road with two (2) in Aimeliik, at Ngerderar and near the Aimeliik entrance intersection, and one (1) in Ngeremlengui. The five (5) on the east coast were also along the Compact Road with one (1) near Shimizu Mart, two (2) near Jungle River Cruise, one (1) near Ngchesar waterfall, and one (1) near Oikull, Airai.
Collapsed road happened on airport road across from SDA Church in Airai, and in two (2) areas in Koror, next to the former US Embassy and Ngermid intersection. Landslide can be seen at the Ngermid intersection after the retaining wall.
In addition to landslides, there was flooding in certain areas, including flooding of PPUC pump stations and damages to properties.
There were no injuries or fatalities but reports of more damages are expected from the community and so far, reports received included retaining wall collapse and waterline damages as results of landslides.
The estimated cost of clean-ups after the landslides is around $25 thousand and the cost to repair damaged roads at Topside, Ngermid and airport are estimated at around $500,000 per site but these are rough estimates until thorough site assessments are completed according to Director Brian Melairei of the Bureau of Public Works and Capital Improvement Projects.
Monsoon rains, which Palau normally experience between June to October were especially heavy this past week compared to the same event in 2017 where Palau experienced 6 to 8 inches of rain days prior, during and after the event”, stated Kikuko Mochimaru, Staff Meteorologist at NOAA NWS Office (WSO) Palau. “The difference between this event was the longevity of the southwest monsoon flow over Palau, the torrential and continuous rainfall, the amounts of rainfall, frequent thunder and lightning activity, and two Tropical Disturbances in the trough (Invests 93W and 94W).”
In the report, Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), co-authored by the Palau Office of Climate Change, the Coral Reef Research, experts say to expect increased risks to Palau due to climate change, such as hotter days, sea-level rise, and heavier rainfalls and flooding.