Island leaders assess fringe damages from typhoon - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Island leaders assess fringe damages from typhoon

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Typhoon Vongfong may be long gone from Guam but it didn't pass without leaving behind some damage. However according to Ordot-Chalan Pago mayor Jesse Gogue, it was only minor to say the least, noting, "Typically speaking, we did really well."      

Gogue says for this storm, fallen vegetation and debris was his biggest problem such as along Bernardo Court. "it's that we've actually had several areas where trees have fallen and it has cut off roads and this location the families that live back here, and there are five homes behind me, this is their only way in and their only way out so we're trying to get my crew out to cut as many of these trees and out of the way, so they can get in and out of their homes," the mayor added.

Gogue adds he's thankful the island was spared from major damage compared to other major typhoons and even storms that just hit in the past few months. "Definitely this Vongfong was less severe than Halong," he assessed.

And while some may consider it less severe than Tropical Storm Halong, flooding continues to be problem such as along West O'Brien Drive in Hagatna. And where down vegetation seemed to plague some parts of the island, for Hagatna mayor John Cruz, flooding appears to be a never-ending challenge. "Back then when they were doing the road, they did a poor job in drain systems," he told KUAM News, "and every time there's a heavy rain we get flooded here and it's been going on for several years."

Several years turns out to be at least two decades he later admits. In our past storm coverage, we've visited West O'Brien Drive where close to 100 people stay and we've witnessed the flooding. This time around, it is still a problem, but not as intense. "There is drainage, it's either plugged up, they did some sort of drain but it never worked," said Mayor Cruz, adding, "I hope the senators look at this real closely, they have a flood mitigation but it's still in the works and I know Public Works wants to do a good job in trying to fix this problem."

Cruz adds the road used to have some drainage that went out toward the beach however it was cut-off to due environmental protection agency standards. DPW director Carl Dominguez tells KUAM West O'Brien Drive is a routed road and would fall under DPW's primary maintenance. He suspects the problem lies in the fact that the road is not only leveled resulting in water becoming trapped but a poor performing drainage and it's closeness to sea level. He's been aware of the problem, as flooding even occurred during past liberation parades nearby. He tells KUAM that he hopes to have his team investigate adding it simply "slipped (his) mind" as assessments were being concentrated on others areas, particularly the southern part of Guam.

But it wasn't just Hagatna that had flooding, but also along Route 1 by Polaris Point in Piti. Dominguez says this flooding problem is "a difficult fix." He says the problem is a result of many reasons including the road being slanted and how its practically at sea level and at high tide it "aggravates the situation." Dominguez adds he's talked to Federal Highway Administration representatives about the problem to possibly raise the road 2-3 feet, but it would cost millions of dollars. In the meantime, while there was some damage that could not be prevented, the Office of Civil Defense thanked the public for taking the typhoon advisories seriously and preparing in advance.

"We had minor damages reported, luckily we had some crews out there and we can attribute that the governor calling COR3 on Saturday so we called it at a good time for everyone to go out there and prepare," stated spokesperson Jenna Gaminde.

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