Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau

“It’s better to be prepared,” says Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau about the announcements and preparations ahead of an expected storm today.  Palau was place on typhoon watch by Joint Typhoon Warning Center effective 8 am today.

On Sunday evening, a notice went out that schools and government offices will be closed on Monday and only essential services will remain. The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) notified the entire Republic that Palau was under Tropical Storm Condition Readiness 2, which means that tropical storm conditions were possible within 24 hours, with possible sustained winds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour.

“We are in a proactive mode, a step ahead by giving people ample time to prepare, including having the elderly moved to the shelters while the weather conditions are still good rather than wait until the storm hits to move them,” stated NEMO Director Waymine Towai in an interview with Island Times.

With the weather still fair yesterday, the announcements seemed premature, but Vice President and National Emergency Committee Chairperson Uduch Sengebau-Senior assured that it was not too early to get people prepared.

“Lesson learned from Surigae,” said Vice President Sengebau-Senior, “the advance warning allows families adequate time to prepare, get supplies, and for the parents to have peace of mind. It’s better to be prepared.”

After all the preparations, Vice President Senior says, “If the storm does not get here, we are blessed.” 

Typhoon Surigae which was projected to be a storm suddenly changed its path and turned into a typhoon hitting the island in April of this year.  The aftermath showed damages that cost over 4 million dollars and caused backlash from the community on what was perceived as poor communication of the typhoon by the government.

Vice President Uduch said that this was a major lesson learned for her and that preparing ahead of the storm will help reduce costs to families, “especially as we are so close to Christmas”.

Minister Charles Obichang of MPII said that they have learned many lessons from past typhoons, but one thing they’ve learned from Surigae is to have people prepare ahead of time when they have the opportunity to do so rather than when the storm is already upon them.

“The cost after the disaster is greater than the cost of preparing for disaster,” stated Minister Obichang.

As of Monday afternoon, the storm tracking showed that the storm was still west-northwest with winds just shy of tropical storm force of 40mph. It is expected to hit Palau on Tuesday night, may reach typhoon winds but is expected to be north of Palau, more offshore, and continue to move away rather than stay overhead. This prediction is as of 1 pm Monday and may change by Tuesday night.

Palau under typhoon watch

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