SAIPAN—In the late afternoon of October 24, 2018, a Wednesday, Fray Allan Rubett Cabatian, OAR, local prior of Recoletos de Saipan, sent a text message to the office of the Prior Provincial saying, “We are experiencing a super typhoon stronger than Soudelor. Please include us in your prayers.”
The next day, October 25, news and footages about the great devastation particularly of the US Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) flooded the internet. Category 5 Typhoon Yutu packed with sustained winds of 290 km per hour, “the fiercest to hit any part of America since 1935,” tore through these Pacific islands.
Typhoon Soudelor, a.k.a. Typhoon Hanna in the Philippines, assessed to have a one-minute sustained winds of 285 kph, was among the most intense tropical cyclones worldwide in 2015 that severely damaged CNMI. The 2013 super typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda in the Philippines) had one-minute sustained winds of 315 kph.
At 10:38 in the morning of that still gloomy Thursday, Fray Cabatian informed the Provincial Curia: “We survived!” He then sent some pictures that vividly captured the typhoon’s merciless wrath that blew off the roofs and walls of the convent and those of the structure of the San Roque Parish Church.
The depictions were no different from what The Washington Post reported that day: “Images of the storm’s aftermath in the Marianas were horrific. In Saipan, the largest of the islands, roadways were littered with downed power poles and tree branches. Parked cars were smashed by debris, some overturned by the powerful winds. What used to be buildings were reduced to haphazard piles of tin and wood.” Next logical step for the people and the friars to do is to pick up the pieces and try to return to normalcy.