By Kassi Berg
The village of Ngkeklau (Ngaraard) located on the eastern coast of Palau’s largest island, Babeldoab, was practically wiped out by the tidal surge of Typhoon Bopha. Despite escaping the full brunt of the Typhoon because it veered south of Palau, the devastation of the typhoon is palpable in Ngkeklau where many of the locals are without homes and the entire village is without power, water, and communications.
Belongings from these homes litter the landscape. Some houses were entirely destroyed and literally washed into the trees and their neighbors yards, while others were swept off their foundations nearly in tact and can be found elsewhere. One house now sits in the middle of the road blocking access to the village. High watermarks inside the remaining structures indicate that the tidal surge may have been as high as 10 feet.
This same scene of destruction is replicated in Palau’s other states along the east coast, such as Ngiwal, where homes were flooded and flattened. Taro patches have been inundated with salt water, destroying the crops. Coastal roads were either covered in sand and debris or heavily damaged and even impassable in some areas.
At 3:00 in the afternoon on December 3, 2012, the locals, many of them homeless, gathered around their property, devastated by loss, awaiting government officials to visit and assess the damage.
The President was said to be driving through the eastern coast of Palau before he was scheduled to meet with the National Emergency Management Office and other leaders. A state of emergency has not yet been declared.
The residents of the east coast of Palau that had evacuated to the national capitol for refuge will continue to stay there until another option is determined. The government has announced that it will be closed tomorrow, December 4, 2012, as the national capitol is still acting as a shelter.