Election postponed for typhoon-ravaged Northern Marianas

  • FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, file photo, an overturned car is shown at the airport after Super Typhoon Yutu hit the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Garapan, Saipan. Elections are being postponed in a Pacific U.S. territory going without electricity after a super typhoon destroyed homes, toppled trees, utility poles and left a woman dead. (AP Photo/Dean Sensui, File)

HONOLULU — 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.

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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.

Recovery efforts continue for the territory, where this morning marks the sixth day without electricity and running water.

There has been one storm-related death of a woman who took shelter in an abandoned building that collapsed.

While the commonwealth continues to cope with the aftereffects of Yutu, tourists are leaving the Northern Marianas, a popular tourist destination for Chinese and South Korean travelers.

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Kevin Bautista, a spokesman for Torres, said there were 3,200 tourists on the islands when Yutu struck last week. He said the South Korean government flew most of its nationals out on military planes during the weekend.

Bautista said Chinese tourists have been flying home now that commercial flights resumed out of the Saipan airport.

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