Saipan and Tinian residents' tough living conditions now and in the coming weeks and months can be daunting after Supertyphoon Yutu brought devastation to the two islands last week.

Houses, public schools, and power and water infrastructure have been destroyed. Tourism is at a standstill and no regular commercial flights are allowed because of damage to the Saipan International Airport and hotels.

People had to line up for rationed water. Ready-to-eat food is being issued at certain distribution points.

Yet immediately after Yutu left a trail of devastation on the two islands about 120 miles north of Guam, we've seen humanity shine amid the destroyed homes and toppled trees.

There's the small group of residents who banded together and used a chainsaw to remove a tree that blocked a road, allowing a fellow Saipan resident, who had been trying to cut the tree with a machete, to take his mother to the hospital for medical care.

Gerard "G" Van Gils, who helped lead the effort, said volunteers came out of nowhere and "pretty soon we had about 40 people clearing that tree as we cut."

"It's a tragedy that is like warfare from nature. Today, we fought back," he said. "I have seen people who have lost everything put on a face of determination and start rebuilding their lives from the debris."

'We will not be beaten'

On Tinian, the home of retired U.S. Army Ranger Joe Camacho and his wife, Lydia Barcinas, was destroyed. Their roof was ripped from the walls of their home.

After the winds abated, one of the first things Camacho did was post the American flag to show "our community that we will not be beaten by this storm," Saipan resident Brad Ruszala said.

As The Guam Daily Post covered the devastation on Saipan, the thing that was striking to our staff was the sense of calm.

Many people are trying to cope with not a lot of materials left intact after the supertyphoon, but there hasn't been a sense of panic.

People patiently waited for their turn at the water refill station and food distribution centers.

'It's been crazy'

Even a family member, who lost a loved one when a concrete slab fell on her, tried to hold it together.

"We lost my auntie's youngest sister. During the night she got hurt ... concrete fell on her," said Luna Litulumar, of the death of her aunt Felicidad Litulumar, 44.

Luna Litulular said it's been "overwhelming and it's been crazy," but she held herself together, even describing how her brother's home provided a safe haven for her and other family members as the storm was passing through.

Asked how she's feeling, Luna Litulumar said, "We try not to think about everything ... at one time," she said, trying to hold back tears, and wiping away teardrops that escaped.

It's going to be a long road for Saipan and Tinian residents and we need to do what we can to help them.

They're a resilient people but some help will make their recovery easier and possibly quicker.


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