Kayangel State flooding due to heavy rains from Typhoon Surigae. (top and bottom right photos) Container storage of Sonsorol State damaged by the typhoon. (center left) US Civic Action Team helping with recovery efforts cutting and clearing downed trees in Ngesaol, Koror. (Right photo, credit US Embassy)

Palau is assessing the damage after Typhoon Surigae left a trail of devastation, with the initial assessment coming in at about $2 million, with the amount expected to increase as a comprehensive appraisal of the typhoon continues.
Vice President and National Emergency Committee Chairman J. Uduch Senior in an interview last night said preliminary assessments indicate that it caused $2.1 million in damages, affecting many residents in the community.
The vice president said no casualties were reported as a result of the typhoon.
“Initial damage, completed by the NEC in collaboration with state governments, which might increase as more information becomes available to about $2.1 million damages across six sectors,” Vice President said,
She said sectors impacted are education, utility, health, agriculture, infrastructure, and homes.
Vice President Senior said 30 homes across the 16 states were destroyed, while 199 sustained minor damages.
The preliminary assessment also identified sectors that would be needing assistance; they are Kayangel residents, homeowners with destroyed or damaged homes who now living with host families and affected populations that continued to have no electricity or water, among others.
Kayangel Governor Richard Ngiraked said preliminary appraisal showed that three homes were destroyed in Kayangel State.
Ngiraked said the typhoon caused flooding in the state and electricity is yet to be restored.

Frustrations

As residents began to clean up, many expressed frustrations that government did not warn them early of the incoming typhoon.
One resident who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal said she has gone through severe weather before, but the government has always been instrumental in getting them prepared for the impact.
“This is really different from the last administration before they would have warned us to secure your home and go to a safe place, and all those things. Now, no,” she lamented.
Vice President said she understands the frustration of the community but explained that based on the information given to NEC by National Emergency Committee Management Office and the Palau meteorologists, Typhoon Surigae had an unusual trajectory.
She said while their office continued to monitor and warn the public of the incoming storm, Surigae suddenly developed into a typhoon early morning of Friday.
“It was traveling towards Yap and suddenly veered to the left and become a typhoon in the early morning of Friday,”
“I understand the frustration that has been expressed in the community, but the usual warnings that normally issued from NEMO were followed through. Weather statements were given 24 hours in advance of the storm,” she said.
She however took offense to criticism that she is not the best person to be the NEC chair because “she’s a woman.”
Typhoon Surigae left the entire Koror and Babeldaob without electricity, water, and phone service for almost two days.

Help is coming

The Vice President however assured the community that one of the lessons learned during the typhoon was to come up with a better system to communicate with the public especially when electricity and cellular services are down.
But, Vice President said help is coming to the communities impacted by the typhoon with the Australian government assisting with the initial damage assessment and maintaining evacuation centers, through a $50,000 aid.
She said they also received a pledge of assistance from the US government.

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