Dededo mayor recalls Supertyphoon Pongsona, 15 years later - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Dededo mayor recalls Supertyphoon Pongsona, 15 years later

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It was recorded to be one of the worst typhoons to ever strike the island. Supertyphoon Pongsona made land on this day 15 years ago, with the storm leaving behind more than $700 million in damages. And today, KUAM News spoke with one village mayor about her experience and what she's done to prepare her community for the next big one.

Archived video shows the strength of Pongsona as it moved over Guam. "The disaster was just overwhelming for our island considering we just went through this five months before," said Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares. She recalled the devastation, having been the village's vice mayor back then. 

NOAA report state Pongsona brought sustained winds of 144 miles per hour and gusts at 173 miles per hour. "Families were not only displaced but everyone was just scrambling, trying to recover was overwhelming for the families. Getting the roads cleared, a lot of concrete poles were twisted and just came apart so the clearing of the roads and trying to instill to residents to just stay where you're at if you're not at your homes was a task because everybody wanted help at the same time," she said.

The NOAA report also states one indirect death - one woman died after being cut by flying glass and suffered a heart attack. Medics unable to get to her in the height of the storm. Public Health also reported 193 injuries mostly caused by flying debris.

"It was just family wanting to help each other get back up. A bad month and we tried to make things as normal as possible," said the mayor. Though officials overall note deaths and injuries were kept to a minimum due to the island's experience with typhoons and Guam's strong building codes.

And 15 years later, Savares is finally able to get this shelter going with the help of a $700,000 Community Block Grant. It's the Astumbo Gymnasium. "Red Cross actually used this facility as their point of distribution," she said.

The new addition to her community she says will be the second tier where those in need would go after typhoon shelters at the schools close. "For those that cannot go back home they would all be consolidated into this shelter," she said.

The renovations are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

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