Typhoon Soudelor has caused massive destruction, and its latest victim appears to be the Northern Marianas Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino. The large casino resort will be closed for three weeks following the typhoon so that the badly affected area around it has time to recoup from the storm. The closure of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino is notable given the fact that it was the first operational casino in the region. It was forced to close following large visitor cancellations that cost the casino a great deal of revenue and made the operational costs of staying open unrealistic.
Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan on August 2nd, and since that date over 9,000 tourists cancelled their trips to the region citing the poor weather as the reason. It is speculated that this has cos the CNMI as much as $24 million in revenue. Although Tinian did not feel much destruction or flood issues in the wake of the typhoon, Saipan its neighbor did. Given the fact that Saipan is host to the international air hub for the area, the typhoon aftereffects were enough to cause problems for every surrounding region as visitors were no longer able to easily get in and out.
The casino officially closed this past Friday as tour operators found that they were not able to sell their destination tour package successfully at the moment. The three week closure has hurt many starffers that depend on the casino for work including employees that worked in VIP areas, as dealers, in the cages, and other similar jobs. One staffer stated that they were told abruptly Friday afternoon not to come into work. The employee stated that they were only given a part of their salary and were then laid off even though they are owed three additional delayed salaries.
A great deal of the power grid was destroyed in Saipan following the typhoon and the Governor’s office for the Northern Marianas is still working on getting electricity back up to businesses and residents in the city. It is estimated that as many as 400 power poles were knocked over by the typhoon leaving the island completely without power. The only source of power for residents in the city has been generators that were given to the area as part of disaster relief aid from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to a spokesman from the Governor’s office, power poles will be delivered to the island over the next week. Linemen from the area have already convened on the island and are ready to help rebuild the power grid so that the island can regain electricity on its own. However, even with the materials on hand it will still take some time for the reconstruction to take place. Ivan Blanco commented that residents should expect the power outage to persist for another one to two months. In the meantime the island will have to continue to utilize the FEMA generators.
At the moment the FEMA generators are able to provide power to the water wells so that residents have access to proper water. The island has also been able to rebuild its main feeder line to the hospital so that the hospital is not reliant on the generators. The Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino expects to reopen in three weeks when hopefully interest in visits will be revived as the area continues to benefit from the efforts. For the time being only the casino will close however, as the restaurant and hotel operations will remain open for those who want a good meal or need alternate accommodations as a result of the storm.