Election postponed for typhoon-ravaged Northern Marianas
HONOLULU (AP) – Elections are being postponed by a week in a Pacific U.S. territory still without electricity after a super typhoon destroyed homes, toppled trees, utility poles and left a woman dead.
U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres said on his office’s Facebook page that elections will be postponed until Nov. 13. Early voting will now begin Nov. 6.
Residents will decide on their non-voting delegate to Congress, governor and other local races. Torres and his lieutenant governor running mate will suspend campaign events to focus on recovery, he wrote on Facebook.
“Exercising your right to vote is an important part of our democracy and our freedom,” he said. “Taking care of yourself and your family is even more important.”
The territory suffered massive damage after Super Typhoon Yutu passed over last week. At category 5, it was the strongest storm to hit any part of the U.S. this year.
The American Red Cross and other volunteers have been giving out meals and drinking water. There are water stations where each vehicle can receive up to 50 gallons (190 liters) of non-potable water for needs such as bathing. Medical teams were sent to shelters to provide services such as triage and crisis counseling.
More than 10,500 meals and 4,230 gallons (16,000 liters) of water were handed out Monday, along with other provisions, Torres said.
One of the nation’s largest cargo carriers landed in the territory and nearby territory Guam has sent 140 members of the Guam National Guard to help with recovery efforts, according to Torres’ office Facebook page.
President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration, making federal funding available to affected people in the Northern Marianas.
Most of the homes on the island of Tinian were destroyed by a direct hit from Yutu, residents said.
At the height of the storm, resident Alexis Hofschneider-Kwon hunkered down in the living room of a friend’s house, where they blocked themselves from windows.
“At several points I had to hold down the door to the kitchen while my friend comforted her son,” she wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “The winds were so strong that even some of the boards were knocked off the windows.”
Some people are using diesel generators for power, she said.
The local Catholic church, San Jose Parish, held Sunday Mass in a gymnasium that’s been doubling as a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency distribution point, she said: “There are glimmers of hope here and there.”