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Cleanup continues in Guam from Typhoon Mawar as storm heads toward Japan

As Typhoon Mawar knocked out power, utilities to most of the island, Church members clean up water damage and downed trees

In the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar’s winds on Guam, Sister Cyndi Burtenshaw has seen people generously helping each other as they work together to clean up after the massive storm poured rain on the Pacific island, shredded trees, knocked out utilities and, in some places, ripped roofs off of houses.  

Typhoon Mawar hit Guam on Wednesday, May 24, and no fatalities were immediately reported, according to news reports. It was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall and was the strongest typhoon to hit the U.S. territory since 2002, according to the Associated Press.

In this photo provided by Chris Leavitt, downed trees litter a street Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Yigo, Guam, after Typhoon Mawar passed over the island. | Chris Leavitt via Associated Press

The storm knocked out power, including internet, and water to most on the Pacific island, and there are various pockets where it has been restored, said Sister Burtenshaw. Many of those who have power and water have been sharing with those who don’t. 

“People have been generous,” said Sister Burtenshaw. She and her husband, Elder Kim Burtenshaw, are senior missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Monticello, Utah, and serving as communications missionaries in Guam.

Members and missionaries have started helping clean up downed trees and limbs and helping each other clean up after wind blew rain into homes. 

“It was so strong, it ripped bark off the trees,” she said of the wind. 

Sister Burtenshaw estimates they cleaned up about 60 gallons of water in their own apartment. Many stores are still closed, and the Burtenshaws have heard there are long lines for fuel. 

Even with the challenges, they’ve seen many blessings. 

“It really has been miraculous that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” she said. 

Trees stand stripped of leaves following Typhoon Mawar outside Hagatna, Guam, Thursday, May 25, 2023. The Category 4 typhoon pummeled the U.S. Pacific territory with howling winds, torrential rain and a life-threatening storm surge as residents hunkered down on the island. | Grace Garces Bordallo, Associated Press

There are more than 2,500 members of the Church in Guam in five congregations. The Yigo Guam Temple was dedicated on May 22, 2022.

Typhoon Mawar is still an active storm. It passed by Taiwan on Tuesday, May 30, with sustained winds of 155 kph (96 mph) and gusts of up to 190 kph (118 mph), sending high waves crashing on the island’s east coast, the Associated Press reported. 

In the Philippines, authorities said heavy rains were expected to continue in the country’s north through at least Thursday, June 1, and warned of flooding, possible landslides and gale-force winds.

By Thursday, it downgraded to a tropical storm with wind speeds up to 108 kilometers (66 miles) as it headed toward Japan’s southern archipelago of Okinawa on Thursday, June 1, the Associated Press reported.

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Yigo Guam Temple, several meetinghouses remain closed due to damage from May 24 typhoon
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