Guam hit by the 'perfect storm of chaos' disabling basic services
The Mawar typhoon destroys basic infrastructure in Guam causing water, electricity, and internet outages as authorities struggle to restore infrastructure.
Frustration grew in Guam due to the government's slow response to the Mawar typhoon, which hit the US territory leaving most areas of the island without power, water, and internet.
Officials reported that by Wednesday, only 28% of customers had their power restored. The Guam Power Authority took action by deploying crews to work around the clock in order to repair the typhoon-damaged infrastructure and restore electricity.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said that approximately 80% to 85% of power and water services would be restored within four to six weeks, based on updates from utility agencies.
"We cannot say 100% because there’s going to be places that we might not be able to reach and we don’t want to raise expectations," she added.
One resident, Gina T Reilly, residing in Barrigada village, described the measures she had taken to conserve fuel for her generator.
"I switch it on and off depending on what I need to do. It’s off during most of the day except when I cook our meals or warm up our leftovers. We cleaned out our fridge so we don’t have to worry about rotten food," Reilly explained.
Miguel Bordallo, the general manager of Guam Waterworks Authority, expressed uncertainty about the timeline for restoring full water availability. He explained that replenishing the depleted reservoirs, which were affected during and after the storm, would take time.
Some residents resorted to collecting rainwater in containers, while others who were not cut off from the water grid opened their homes to friends and relatives to share supplies. Cargo ships were also brought in to provide water and food.
Regarding internet service, it remained unclear how much progress had been made in its restoration. Many shops continued to operate without internet, causing difficulties in processing electronic payments and prompting a shift toward cash-only transactions. However, with ATMs out of service and several banks closed, customers faced challenges in completing basic tasks such as grocery shopping.
Vice speaker Tina Muna Barnes and Senator Joe San Austin expressed their concerns in a letter to the president of the Guam Bankers Association, describing the situation as a chaotic "perfect storm" due to the combination of issues faced by the island after the Typhoon ravaged it.
Docomo Pacific, one of the three providers of mobile and internet services in Guam, reported that most of its cell sites had not suffered significant damage. However, the company encountered obstacles in its restoration efforts due to the islandwide power outage, which also hindered the replenishment of portable generators due to long lines for fuel.
Moreover, the fiber network supporting mobile cell sites in southern villages was heavily damaged, rendering mobile service connectivity impossible even with the use of generators, as stated by Docomo in a statement. "Unfortunately, this means there would be no mobile service connectivity even if we were to power these sites with a portable generator," the mobile and internet services provider added.