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September 20, 2019, 05:37:26 am

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Topic: After the Apocalypse: island life after a super typhoon  (Read 1724 times)

Cheapskate

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Iíve regaled other forum members with stories about the amusingly fucked-up world of the Northern Mariana Islands, where Iíve been living for the last several years. Itís a place where we operate what is officially the most corrupt casino in U.S. history, and where legislators go to prison for eating endangered species.

At the beginning of this month, Typhoon Soudelor scored a direct hit on Saipan, the largest of the Northern Marianas, where I live. The winds were so strong that they broke NOAAís measuring equipment. A private weather station recorded sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph) and gusts up to 215 mph (346 kph).

The wind tore the roof off the power plant, and the rain ruined the equipment. The power plant had no backup equipment because it had no money: it had no money because, in a masterpiece of power politics, the hospital and the school system stopped paying their power bills, confident that the government would never allow them to be disconnected.

Now everyone has been disconnected. Itíll be two more weeks before the plant works again, and months before we have enough utility poles to connect everyone on the island. Because thereís no electricity, the water treatment plant and the pumping stations arenít running, either.

My apartment has a diesel generator. We can afford to run it for six hours a day. If I want water, I have to drive to the reservoir with a ten-gallon jug, fill it, and bleach the water to disinfect it. I canít keep food refrigerated, so Iím subsisting mostly on dry cereal and trail mix.

The economy is entirely dependent on tourism and thousands of guests have cancelled their vacations here. The government was already broke: now itís superbroke. (Fortunately, we canít default on our bonds because we donít have any: nobodyís been stupid enough to loan the government money for about fifteen years.)

Most of the places where I like to hang out are closed and Iím tremendously bored and lonely. I offer up this thread for questions and answers about living in crazyland.

crow

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Why do you live there

A Meat

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Is moving somewhere less terrible even an option for you currently? Would you want to?

Also stay strong, that sounds real shitty and I had a tough time when I didn't have hot water for a month, so not having any water sounds abhorrent.

Baldr

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I was wondering where you went.  Did you move there to avoid paying back your law school loans?

Cheapskate

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I moved here because my job pays some twenty percent more than my previous job, I've been able to get cheap flights to Asia for vacations, and my work is a good resume line: I'm 34 years old and I'm the lawyer for an international airport, a state-level civil service system, and the tourism bureau of a tourism-dependent economy.

My contract runs until 2017. I can leave before that, but my plan is to ride it out until the government can't afford to pay me any more. Then I'll either go back to Idaho, or to the next island over, Guam.

There seems to be a public consensus on the cause of the typhoon: it's God punishing us for opening another casino. Although there is a strong minority viewpoint that it's God punishing us for sending a well-known and well-respected man to prison just because he had sex with a bunch of children.

Baldr

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What's your day-to-day work like?  Doesn't the lack of electricity complicate things?

Also, I knew someone who lived in Guam for a few years.  Aside from the snakes I got the impressed that she liked it there.

Cheapskate

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There's a generator at the office, so we have power and water there. Some of my agencies aren't up and running so I have less work to do than usual. I'm using this extra time to help draft procurement contracts. FEMA won't reimburse you for anything unless you go through their cumbersome reimbursement rules, so buying stuff after a disaster is difficult.

Guam is like a tiny Hawaii. It's a real city with drinkable tap water and an IHOP and everything. Saipan is more like a tiny Philippines. The economy here was built on Japanese tourism, immigrant labor (Saipan had its own immigration laws and brought in thirty or forty thousand Chinese and Filipinos to do all the grunt work), and garment factories. Then the Japanese economy went to hell, the garment factories shut down, and the Feds took over immigration.