Japan braced for effects of Typhoon Vongfong

A man struggles against wind and rain in Tokyo as Japan braces itself for the effects of a second Typhoon. Picture: Getty
A man struggles against wind and rain in Tokyo as Japan braces itself for the effects of a second Typhoon. Picture: Getty
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A TYPHOON carrying strong winds and heavy rains has passed over the Mariana Islands, with the eye of the storm skirting the small island of Rota.

Power outages and minor flooding were reported in some areas, but there was no immediate word of injuries or major damage.

The storm began moving through Guam and the other islands stretched across a swath of the western Pacific before dawn and left the region several hours later.

Tanya King, who was in Sinapalo, one of the population centres on Rota, said via Facebook messenger that there were no reports of any injuries or serious damage on her island.

“We reconned all villages,” said King, who described herself as a representative to the islands’ Public School System Board of Education. “There is no damage to any homes, the power is back on, the greatest damage was the uprooting of large trees, which is being cleared by the mayor’s crew.”

King, 60, said in an earlier message a few hours after the eye had passed, that she was still without electricity, it remained very windy, and there was minor flooding.

It appeared the eye of Typhoon Vongfong had passed about five miles north of Rota, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Ziobro said. The eye wall, which packs the strongest winds, probably passed over the island, he said.

Rota, which is about 10.5 miles long and 3 miles wide, has about 2,500 residents, according to the last census. Guam Governor Eddie Calvo asked for prayers for residents there.

The weather service cancelled a flash-flood watch for the islands around 8:30 a.m. Monday, as the storm shifted farther west. Light to moderate rain was expected to continue for several hours, with occasional downpours, but flooding wasn’t expected.

But the agency warned that poor drainage could lead to some flooding.

Residents on Guam heeded warnings about high winds and flooding by taking shelter at designated public schools.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Jenna Gaminde said there were no reports from Guam of injuries from the storm.

As conditions improved in the early afternoon, Guam officials shut down the island’s storm centre and government agencies and many businesses began reopening, but public schools remained closed for the day.

The Guam International Airport resumed full operations with inbound and outbound flights.

In the Hagatna area, there was some flooding in low-lying areas, but by early afternoon the waters were receding and roads were passable.

Melissa Savares, the mayor of Dededo, Guam’s most populated village with more than 45,000 residents, said by phone that some who sought shelter in the schools were checking on their homes to see if it was safe for them to return.

Ed Propst, a manager of the Head Start Program in the island of Saipan’s public school system and a candidate for the islands’ House of Representatives, said branches, leaves and debris were scattered across his yard on Saipan early Monday morning.

He said that he had experienced several storms growing up in Saipan, but “I don’t think we have had one this strong in over a decade. Or at least it feels like it.”

The weather service said the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 105mph and was expected to intensify as it moved away from the islands during the next day and a half.

The track was still unclear, but Japan - which had another typhoon hit the southern part of the nation on Sunday - was on the outer edge of Vongfong’s potential track, according to the weather service.