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Guam Is Rebuilding

Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2023
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By – RNC National Committeewoman Shelly Gibson

Guam

Sometimes, the world reminds you how fragile life really is. For those of us who live on Guam, that moment came recently when Typhoon Mawar tore through our beloved island home. Thankfully, there was no loss of life and no reported injuries! We are incredibly grateful for that. However, as we take in the devastation around us – the destruction wrought by 2023’s most powerful typhoon – it is hard to comprehend the scale of what has happened here.

Too many families, including good friends of mine, have seen their homes destroyed. Too many children’s schools have been damaged beyond recognition. Debris is everywhere and many roads are still filled with debris; electricity, water and telecom services are in slow recovery mode. I haven’t seen much coverage of what’s happened here in the national media, and that concerns me as communication and information sharing is so critical in these times. Fortunately we’ve had two local media companies broadcasting and sharing whatever updates are available. What’s significant is that not only is Guam strategically important – it hosts three significant military bases, representing the largest US military installation closest to Asia – but that people are struggling. Whether military or local residents, everyone here has had their lives upended. 

One side not being reported, one of equal if not more importance, is that the people here are resilient, strong, and decent, characteristics which have been on prominent display in the aftermath of this storm. A few stories stick out. I saw a man fill his pickup truck full of gas cans and drive to the one open and working station in the area; when I asked why he had dozens of cans, he told me he’d volunteered to fill up for his family and many neighbors, to give them time to rest or do work around the house rather than stay in hours long wait lines. I saw a woman carrying several small blue coolers; she told me they were full of insulin, which she was keeping cold for relatives as ice is now a luxury. I think about the volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to clear runways of debris so supply planes can land with aid; I think about the countless folks I’ve seen supporting their neighbors without a moment’s hesitation. We are not a large island. We have a population of just over 170,000 people. The size of our population is dwarfed by the strength of our spirit, especially in times of crisis such as these!

We are especially grateful for the brave first responders who put their lives on hold, working non-stop to improve the situation and keep us safe. These folks have families too. Their lives have been just as affected by the damage of this typhoon. And yet they are still at their posts, working around the clock, doing their jobs with distinction. Today and every day I thank our first responders at the utilities, fire and police, medical personnel and disaster recovery volunteers from on the ground organizations like Red Cross and FEMA for their tireless, selfless work. I would be remiss not to acknowledge and applaud the efforts of our legislature’s republican caucus and their support staff out and about delivering food, water and supporting the efforts of our village mayors.

I hope that this brief account of the situation in Guam might raise awareness about what we’re going through. We have a long road of rebuilding ahead and are grateful for any support folks might be able to offer. You can donate at this link. And as a steadfast believer in the power of prayer, I humbly ask that you please pray for our island. While none of us can undo what has been done, with faith as an anchor and our love for each other we can rebuild our island. 

Shelly Gibson is the Republican National Committeewoman from Guam and currently serves as the Special Projects and Government Affairs manager, Federal and Military Business Development manager for TanHoldings Guam.

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Richard Jumper, Iowa
Richard Jumper, Iowa
1 year ago

We continue to lift the island and its people up in prayer!

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