News Release

Typhoon Mawar strikes Guam on May 24, 2023

Blessings from The Lord are recognized from Typhoon Mawar

Typhoon Mawar 2023
Typhoon Mawar 2023
© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Super typhoon Mawar made landfall on May 24, 2023 on the small island of Guam.  It was a slow-moving storm which gave people time to prepare ahead.  An evacuation order was given to all who lived-in low-lying areas and those who lived in wood or tin structures.  After 2002, it became mandatory that all new structures had to be made of cement to lessen the destruction.  It proved to be an accurate preparation for the storms that followed.  The winds blew fiercely.  As one senior missionary said: “It sounds like a 747 landed on our roof!”  The heavy downpour of rain was relentless, flooding many homes and buildings.  Most of the island lost electrical power and water to their homes and businesses just as the storm increased in intensity.  (As of this writing, power and water are still in the process of being restored.)  It became a long, dark, and loud night as the typhoon moved very slowly across the island.   Some people mopped up water for between 5-8 hours non-stop to keep the water from flooding their entire house.  A lot of water came under the doors.  Some of the senior missionaries agreed that in some ways, the flooding became a blessing.  It gave them something to do during the storm instead of sitting around listening nervously to the winds and rains pounding their homes.  When the rains and flooding subsided, some witnessed the blessing of being able to lay down and fall asleep quickly out of exhaustion.    

At dawn, people began to assess the damage.  The once thick jungle now exposed many hidden structures.  Large and small trees were uprooted and broken.  Leaves and flowers were stripped away including the bark on some of the trees.  It was estimated to be a 50-60 percent defoliation.  Priesthood leaders and Relief Society presidencies, under the direction of their bishops, checked on the status of members in their wards and branches.  Although there was some damage to homes, there was no loss of life or serious injury reported at the time of this written article.  Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the island, both junior and senior, jumped in to help assist as well.  Service was given and offered to anyone needing help.  

Typhoon Mawar 2023
Typhoon Mawar 2023
Yigo Guam Temple after Typhoon Mawar 2023© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Yigo Guam temple sustained flood damage.  Carpets were saturated with water.  Some of the beautiful furniture was damaged as well.  Sister Lopez, the temple matron, said that she prayed all night that the beautiful temple would stand strong and the dome on the steeple would stay intact.  The lights on the temple were run by a generator after the power went out.  It shone like a beacon on a hill during the storm, giving courage to everyone that saw it.  When it was safe to go outside after the typhoon passed over the island, it was a joy to see the temple still standing and the dome still intact!  Prayers were answered.

The Yigo Chapel and classrooms that are on adjacent property of the temple had a lot of flood damage as well.  Members and missionaries came to help remove the water from the carpets and clean the floors and windows.  The landscaping around the temple and the chapel were devastated by the storm.  Members and missionaries helped to remove broken and downed trees and brace up other trees that were leaning over.  There were some landscaping lights and the flagpole lying broken on the ground.  Sidewalks were cleared by primary children trying to do their part.  The youth worked together with adults in vacuuming and removing wet carpets.  The carpets that could be removed were taken out of the classrooms and laid over chairs to dry.  Everyone that came seemed to find a way to help.  A few young children found joy helping to brace up the smaller trees.    

A couple of families in the Barrigada Ward had the roofs of their homes ripped away.  Members and missionaries spent several days cleaning up debris and helping to put a cover on the damaged homes.  An apartment complex courtyard was cleared from the down trees and branches giving the children there a place to play again.  Without power, people in the apartment began sitting outside and visiting each other again.  Neighbors took care of each other offering food, extra water, and candles.  New friendships were forged by the storm and hearts were softened.  Several people, after seeing the missionaries cleaning up the courtyard, were touched by their act of service and have asked about the Church.  A few of them came and helped to clean the courtyard as well.  There is power in service and miracles even after the storms.  King Benjamin taught us in Mosiah 2:17 “…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”  An older lady in the apartment named Aurora, commented that she hasn’t given up hope.  This storm was big, but hope remains.  

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